Grimms' Fairytales - A Book That Inspired Tolkien: With Original Illustrations

Grimm Jacob and Wilhelm

Grimms' Fairytales - A Book That Inspired Tolkien: With Original Illustrations
Quillpen Pty Ltd T/A Leaves of Gold Press
1 July 2018

Grimms’ Fairytales - A Book That Inspired Tolkien: With Original Illustrations

Grimm Jacob and Wilhelm

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Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, made specific mention of the brothers Grimm In his essay ‘On Fairy Stories’. In his essay he mentioned his love of a tale by the name of ‘The Juniper Tree’ in the Red Fairy Book, renamed ‘The Almond Tree’ for British audiences.

Tolkien mined the folklore of the Grimm brothers for literary gems. Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s new introduction quotes Tolkien’s own words on the effect of fairy stories on the human mind.

In J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment by Michael D. C. Drout, Maria Raffaella Benvenuto writes, A number of motifs from the Grimms’ fairy tales can be recognized in Tolkien’s work, especially in ‘The Hobbit’. As both Shippey and Anderson (‘The Annotated Hobbit’) point out, part of the episode of the three trolls in chapter 2 was inspired by ‘Der tapfere Schneiderlein’ [‘The Brave Little Tailor’], which appeared in the 1812 edition of ‘Kinder- und Hausmarchen’. Besides, Tolkien probably derived some elements of the Dwarves’s character and behavior from the tales of ‘Schneewittchen’ [‘Snow-white, ’ also from 1812] and ‘Schneeweisscheo und Rosenrot’ [‘Snow-white and Rose-red, ’ from the 1837 edition]. The influence of the Grimms’ tales can even be seen in The Silmarillion, with the episode of Luthien growing her hair in order to effect her escape, echoing the well known tale of ‘Rapunzel’.

The 1882 English translation of Grimms’ Fairy Tales was beautifully illustrated by Walter Crane. Like William Morris, another of Tolkien’s favourite fantasy authors, Crane was an influential member of the Arts and Crafts movement. This new edition by The Professor’s Bpokshelf, a close replica of the original, contains more than 180 of Crane’s pictures, embellishments and ornate initials. ‘Certain artists did provide visual sources for Tolkien’s writing, particularly in their illustrations for the fairy tales that so appealed to him.’ So writes Mary Podles in her article ‘Tolkien and the New Art: Visual Sources for The Lord of the Rings ’. ‘Crane illustrated a version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales that may in several instances have inspired specific scenes and incidents in The Lord of the Rings . Often Crane added details to his black-and-white illustrations that were not in Grimm, but proved to be the very ones that stuck in Tolkien’s memory and resurfaced in his novel.’ Crane’s illustrations for the fairy tales that Tolkien read as a boy do justice to the richness, strangeness and beauty of the folklore which fired the imagination of the author of ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

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