Which of the Brothers Grimm was a “literary nigger”?

Which of the Brothers Grimm was a “literary nigger”?

February 24, 1786 in the heart of Germany in the county of Hanau would have remained a dreary February gray day, if the family of one of the numerous vassals of the count – lawyer Grimm did not have a second son. He was called Wilhelm Karl and, frankly, little hope that the child will survive. He was born prematurely and all the sores fell to him, like flies on honey.

In his early childhood Willy had been ill with everything that could be picked up, even without leaving home. And if it were not for the love of my mother, who was not too lazy to get out of bed even on a dead night after the first squeak of the baby, it’s hard to say what would have ended up. It’s good yet, the first-born – Jacob – did not deliver so much trouble, otherwise the poor woman would have a hard time. Especially since at that time Eva’s daughters of childbearing age almost always wore a child under their heart, and the mother of the Grimov brothers did not escape the same fate, giving birth to six children in 12 years of marriage.

First father could not stand such a strain. Once he fell seriously ill and, despite the sea of ‚Äč‚Äčtears of his wife and the genuine care of his young sons (the daughter was born last), he quietly left the earthly vale. It happened when Jakob was barely 11 years old, and even less so for Wilhelm. 10. Grimm Sr. did not leave money, but gave his sons much more – a rich imagination and love for their native land.

The fact is that five years before this tragic event the family moved to his homeland in the calm and measured town of Steinau. His ancestral home was very old, and as reported to the brothers under a great secret on the first day – this is a favorite place for ghosts. Each of them had its own story, and when the adults did not have time for the children, Jacob and Willie climbed under the blanket and, trembling with fear, came up with the chilling stories of the White Lady and the Old Earl, who can always be recognized by his creaky gait and an angry cough. Sometimes the younger children became grateful listeners, and Jakob and Willy, with a sharp mind and a tenacious memory, watched closely their reactions, in order to add a little bit of horror at the right place, or, on the contrary, let a little pity go. All this was very useful later, but while they were just composing, not thinking about what will remain in history in many respects thanks to the writing of fairy tales.

After the death of the father, the family had a very difficult time, but the mother’s sister came here to help, which was not constrained by the means and was very attached to this “sweet couple” – Jacob and Willy, who often aroused fits of thrill with her stories. Later the brothers themselves called their aunt “Good fairy from a fairy tale.” And subconsciously they tried to give her any features of any kind fairy, which is better than others when her help is vital!

It was thanks to the care of their aunt that they received an excellent education. So the first lyceum brothers managed to finish in four years, although the program was designed for 7 years of study. And then Berlin and Paris, Vienna and Stockholm opened their gates before the brothers. And only one clouded the youth of the geniuses of German literature – Willy’s constant illnesses. That is why Jacob, who, like an icebreaker, cut the ice of mistrust more often, had to take care of the daily bread, he got a job himself, without fail trying to immediately “pull” Willy here.

Who was not at this time Jakob – and the secretary of the military mission (in Europe it was very uneasy, one French bourgeois revolution that was worth it! And Napoleon Buonaparte tried already to crush those countries that could not defend himself), and the diplomat , and a librarian. And everywhere, I repeat, Jakob did not see himself without Willy.

Their first articles appeared in the year of the twentieth anniversary of Wilhelm, and in 1812 an event occurred that made the whole Germany talk about the brothers. On Christmas Day they released the first volume of “Children’s and Family Tales”, which immediately became a bestseller. After all, their light language, like nothing else, reflected the essence of the German soul.In 1815 the second volume was published, in 1822 – the third volume. In 1816-1818 they published “German legends.”

Around the same period, the pathways of the brothers, or rather, their literary activities and creative thoughts, separated somewhat. The senior – Jacob – henceforth decided to pay his attention to philology, and the younger Willy focused on oral folk art.

Willy’s marriage played a significant role in this. Once, in search of old traditions, he came to a small mountain town, where instead of a dry old lady-storyteller and a stern old man who remembered the “old times of deep antiquity”, the 12-year-old daughter of a local pharmacist was offered as a storyteller. In the fact that the “small” language without bones, Willie made sure of the first two hours of their acquaintance. The girl was chattering like a machine gun, and possessed such an amazing memory that the youngest of the Brothers Grimm, known at that time, could not help noticing her in his memory. And then followed the correspondence, short meetings, which, in the end, led to the altar.

From now on, Willi had less need of his brother’s care. But, as noticed by others, in his retelling of legends there is much more softness, lyricism. And if earlier the brave sailor had killed seven flies in one fell swoop, then in later tales of “bloodthirstiness” it was somewhat diminished.

By the way, if Jakob remained in the memory of the German people as the author of a textbook on German grammar, ancient law and mythology, Willy very subtly and competently “laid out” oral folklore in comparison with the folklore of France, England, Sweden, Russia, Slavic peoples.

If you remember the most famous fairy tales, it’s the Bremen Street Musicians, Wolf and the Seven Little Kids, King Drozdoborod, Pot of Porridge, Snegurochka, Boy with a Finger.

And, finally, it remains to answer the question put in the headline. I asked him not by chance. Once in a conversation with a German philologist, we touched on the topic of the Brothers Grimm. I was always interested in the question of the contribution of each of the co-authors to the common work.

– There was such a division of labor in this pair, – Herr Sznidtke grinned, – Jacob wandered around the villages and drank schnapps with the men. And Willy worked on what they had threshed on a drunken bench. And what to do? Willie can rightfully be called a seamstress. Although in truth he was the literary nigger.

And I want to end like this: “Fairy tale is a lie in it, a good lesson to good fellows.” Do not rush not to believe in a fairy tale. Even from the time of the Nativity of Christ, the 20th century has passed. A fairy tale lives and teaches others …

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