Grimm outlook: Philip Pullman's fairytales to arrive in September
Posted on: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The Guardian - 20th March 2012
Exciting news for fairytale fans: Philip Pullman is adapting the classic stories of the Brothers Grimm.
This is a project the His Dark Materials author has been working on for a while – he mentioned it to a fansite a year ago, telling Bridge to the Stars that "this isn't a book for children only", and that he was "telling the best of the tales in my own voice, and I'm finding it a great purifier of narrative thinking, rather as a pianist relishes playing Bach's preludes and fugues as a sort of palate-cleansing discipline".
But now we finally have a publication date – 6 September – and a publisher: Penguin Classics. And the new version of Grimms' Tales for Young and Old sounds great. Pullman has chosen his 50 favourite stories, "from the quests and romance of classics such as Rapunzel, Snow White and Cinderella to the danger and wit of such lesser-known tales as The Three Snake Leaves, Hans-My-Hedgehog and Godfather Death", and is retelling them in "clear as water" new versions, complete with commentary on each story's history and background.
I've just had a quick read of those last three and they are deliciously, weirdly creepy. The Three Snake Leaves features an evil wife, Hans-my-Hedgehog a disturbing hedgehog hybrid, and Godfather Death a hapless attempt to fool the reaper. Apparently Pullman's favourite, though, is The Juniper Tree, in which a stepmother is as evil as can be expected.
Pullman, with his blend of myth and legend, his willingness to see the world in shades of grey, strikes me as the perfect author to be marking the 200th anniversary of the Grimm tales' first publication. Roll on September – I can't wait to see what he's done with them.
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