Thu
Sep 25 2014 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Mythology of Grimm by Nathan Robert Brown

The Mythology of Grimm by Nathan Robert Brown is an encyclopedic comparison of Grimm, the TV series, to the classic fairy tales on which it's based (available September 30, 2014).

Full Disclosure: I have a soft spot for fairy tales. Okay, not just a soft spot, but an abiding obsession with all: in their original gruesome Black Forest-ey form, in retellings and re-imaginings  ranging from comics to YA novels, to you guessed it, TV.

The popular TV show Grimm is part police procedural, part supernatural monster show. Nick Burkhardt, is the eponymous “Grimm”,  a guy who has to profile, hunt and kill monsters straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Nathan Robert Brown’s The Mythology of Grimm: The Fairy Tale and Folklore Roots of the Popular TV Show makes clear the connections and associations between the show’s monsters and situations, and the fairy tales and folklore they’re inspired by.

He breaks each chapter down into one or two related fairy tales/folk tales/myths, and then makes connections between the story and specific episodes of the show. Brown manages a deft hand with giving good information, but still keeping the pacing and the tone breezy. Another thing that’s interesting is that instead of quoting the tried-and-true version of each fairy tale, he actually does his own telling of it. His retellings are lively, and he uses very modern language without modernizing the story.

The next morning Little Red-Cap hit the path into the woods. Just as she lost sight of the village, a wolf (or in Grimm terms, a Blutbad) met her on the trail. Apparently, Little Red-Cap had never encountered one before and so was totally ignorant to the danger he posed. She had no knowledge of the wickedness of which such a creature was capable. As a result, she exhibited no fear and, oddly enough, struck up a conversation with him.

“Good day, Red-Cap,” said the wolf.

“Holy crap, a talking wolf! And it knows my name!” replied Red-Cap.

[Okay, not really…I made that part up]

“Thank you, Mr. Wolf,” is what she really said, which is even weirder, in some respects.

In relating the stories to the episodes, he doesn’t manage to do more than make plain what seems obvious by association. But my view may be faulty in this instance, as I confessed before – I may have more knowledge of fairy tales than the average viewer. Regardless, he keeps up the same modern and breezy tone, and frankly making these kinds of things “plain” is often harder than it looks.  His use of quotations and summary from the show are specific; he reveals enough information so that the scene is clear, but manages to keep the spoilers to a minimum.

When he spies Monroe peeing his fence (“marking his territory”) later that evening, Nick believes his suspicions are confirmed. However, we soon learn the truth when Monroe gets a little payback by tackling Nick after jumping through his own winder (“And, by the way, you’re paying for that window.”) then inviting him inside for a beer. Some Blutbaden, he explains, have learned to control their wild and often violent natures Monroe refers to this as being a wiederBlutbad. Through a “strict regimen of diet, drugs and Pilates”, Monroe tells Nick that he is “not that big” and “done with the bad thing”.

In addition to the tales and such, the book also makes good use of sidebars, giving the reader some word origins (“Grimm Words”), as well as some Fun Factoids (“Tasty Morsels”).  The sidebars give the book a kind of “encyclopedia” feel.

TASTY MORSELS

In the original folktale, Rapunzel’s affair is revealed when she asks Frau Gothel why her clothing no longer fits. You see, her clothes were getting tighter because she was pregnant. However, Wilhelm Grimm felt that discussing anything related to sex or pregnancy was inappropriate for children (especially since there was no way Rapunzel and the prince could have been properly married), so he changed this part. While the change may have reflected the moral standards at the time, it causes the rest of the story to become more than a little confusing.

It’s reasonably well researched – both in terms of the folklore and in terms of the show – and while I could have picked a couple of bones with him over some of his folklore interpretation, that’s not really what Brown is getting at here. The book does what it does, and it does it well. It’s just as easy to read it piecemeal, meandering your way through chapters and stories and sidebars – as it is to read it straight through.  Best for readers who are already fans of the show (for whom it was clearly written), although newcomers may find something here as well.

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Amy Eller Lewis is a writer and Library Fairy in Southern New England. She works at one of the oldest libraries in the country, www.providenceathenaeum.org which is definitely haunted. Follow her on Twitter @amyellerlewis or on Tumblr: scriptoriana.tumblr.com.

Read all of Amy Eller Lewis's posts on Criminal Element.

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36 comments
Gordon Bingham
1. gordonbingham
My wife's absolute favorit show!! She would do a happy dance to get this one!
Joanne Mielczarski
2. jtmswim
I love this show so I am excited to read this book.
Patrick Johnson
3. superopie
My wife and I are excited to see this book!
Angela Bartlett
7. angeebart
I love this show. Can't wait to read the book. Sounds very interesting.
Joyce Mitchell
9. JoyceLm
Sounds interesting - thanks for the chance to win.
Sharron Armel
10. SharronA
One of my favorite shows! I've been reading here & there in other Grimm collections, but would love to read this one that has specific links to the TV series.
Deanna Stillings
12. reader123
Interesting. I read all of these as a child.
susan beamon
13. susanbeamon
I watch the show whenever the show I follow opposite it is off for some award or special show, so not faithfully. I have studies fairy tales and folk stories, so some of Grimm is familiar. Some of it is wildly off, and not just as a different POV. This may be an interesting book.
Jennifer Beers
14. jlb226
This is a fabulous show, and this book sounds like a great read to accompany the show. I'm looking forward to another season!!
Courtney
15. cmh627
I would love to read this and learn more about the mythology.
16. Chris McNally
What a wonderful idea for a book - Really excited to see it - Here's hoping.
18. AmandaP
I love this show & I find the writers' clever use of fairy tale tropes fascinating.
19. Missy
This is amazing, I love this show, and have always loved the Grimm fairy tales, this is perfect!
Margaret Sexton
20. dirtyolegardenhoe
I loved these stories as a child and the show is great! I took a Children's Literature course in college and my professor basically turned every story into a pronographic horror story filled with incest and cannibalism etc... It was one of my most memorable classes to say the least.
Kimberly Dull
21. kimdulina
I love, love, love fairy tales and even own a great big copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales, so I also watch all of the TV shows that are fairy tale based. I also love Grimm, and sometimes I do wonder about the origins of some of the creatures on the show, so I know I would love this book.
Andra Dalton
22. andra77
What an exciting contest!!! Can't wait to read!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win & good luck to all who enter!!!:)
kent w. smith
23. bodacious
Dorothy Parker said: "............. in all history, which has held billions and billions of human beings, not a single one ever had a happy ending." What is not to love about 'fairy tales'? I need to read this book!
Ellen
24. Neroon
Born and raised in Oregon and love to watch Grimm
Vanessa
25. rosemarysgreen
Love the idea of this book. Tracing the background of the tv show and correlating it with the originals... so cool!
Kris Kaminski
26. kjkski
Can I still use it for a bedtime story for the kids!
Erika Kehlet
27. ekehlet
My kids and I love this show - would love to read the book!
Walt Buchanan
28. waltb555
Love this show. I would love to have this book as a reference as I watch the new season.
Mary Lauff-Thompson
29. mtl166
My son and I enjoy this show and some more background info would be fun!
Mary L Allen
30. celtpriest
I have loved this show from the start, both because it's filmed in Portland, Oregon and because of my love for the original fairy tales.

Mary Allen
Jackie Blem
31. JackieBlem
I'm a fairy tale fan, and I'm very curious about the book.
kelly dunaway
33. resied46
Have always loved mythology. Am a fan of the show and would love to see how they connect the two.
36. georgina b
I love the original Grimm fairy tales, was one of the first collections I read as a child.
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