Sunday, May 12, 2013

A haunting tale from the brothers Grimm

A young man we might think of today as having a mental disability has no sense of fear.
His father has basically disowned him, so the young man leaves home. He will travel the countryside, he tells his family, so that he might finally learn what it means to shiver.
"A TALE OF ONE WHO TRAVELED TO LEARN WHAT SHIVERING MEANT" is one of the most haunting of the almost universally dark entries in GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES, a collection I am re-reading for the first time since childhood (when I couldn't possibly appreciate them as much as I do now).
In "A Tale of One Who Traveled," I see the protagonist almost in the same vein as Lennie from "Of Mice and Men," except without a George to serve as protector.
Coming upon a group of seven men hanging from gallows, the protagonist of "A Tale of One Who Traveled" takes them down and arranges them around his fire when he fears they are getting cold. Then, he becomes angry when the dead men allow their clothes to catch fire.
It's one of a number of striking scenes in the story, that also includes successive nights spent in a haunted castle.
If, like me, you haven't read Grimm's Fairy Tales in years, I recommend you pick up a copy. The imagery is often cinematic. The subject matter is often thought-provoking -- never more so than in "A Tale of One Who Traveled."


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