The Godfather-Written By Grimm Brothers
A poor man had so many children that he had already asked
everyone in the world to be their godfather, and when still another
the child was born, no one else was left whom he could invite.
He knew not what to do, and, in his disparity, he lied down
and fell asleep. Then he dreamt that he was to go outside the
gate, and ask the first person he met to be his godfather. When he awoke,
he determined to obey his dream and went outside the gate and
asked the first person who came up to him to be his godfather.
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The stranger presented him with a little glass of water and said,
this is wonderful water; with it, you can heal the sick; only
you must see where death stands. If he is standing by the
patient’s head, give the patient some water, and he will
be healed, but if death is standing by his feet, all trouble
will be in vain, for the sick man must die. From this time forth,
the man could always say whether a patient could be saved or
not, and he became famous for his skill and earned a great deal
Once, he was called into the child of the king, and
when he entered, he saw death standing by the child’s head and
cured it with the water, and he did the same a second time, but
the third time death was standing by its feet, and then he knew
the child had to die.
Once, the man thought he would visit the godfather and tell him
how he had succeeded with the water. But when he entered the
house, the strangest things were happening. On the first
flight of stairs, the broom and shovel were disputing,
knocking each other about violently. He asked them, where does
the godfather live? The broom replied, one flight of stairs
higher up. When he came to the second flight, he saw a heap of
dead fingers lying. He asked, where does the godfather live.
One of the fingers replied, one flight of stairs higher. A heap of dead heads lay in the third flight, which again directed him to the flight beyond. On the fourth flight, he saw fishes on
the fire, which frizzled in pans and baked themselves. They,
too, said, one flight of stairs higher. And when he had
ascended the fifth, he came to the door of a room and peeped
through the keyhole, and there he saw the godfather who had
a pair of long horns. When he opened the door and went in,
the godfather got into bed quickly and covered himself
up. Then said the man, sir godfather, what a strange household
you have. When I came to your first flight of stairs, the shovel
and broom were quarreling, and beating each other violently.
How stupid you are, said the godfather. That was the boy
and the maid talking to each other. But on the second flight, I
saw dead fingers lying. Oh, how silly you are. Those were some
roots of scorzonera. On the third flight lay a heap of dead
men’s heads. Foolish man, those were cabbages. On the fourth
flight, I saw fish in a pan, hissing and baking
themselves. When he had said that, the fishes came and served
themselves up. And when I got to the fifth flight, I peeped
through the keyhole of a door, and there, godfather, I saw
you, and you had long, long horns. Oh, that is not true.
The man became alarmed and ran out; if he had not, who knows
what the godfather would have done to him.
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About Grimm Brothers:
The Brothers Grimm (die Brüder Grimm or die Gebrüder Grimm), Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm (1786–1859), were German academics, philologists, cultural researchers, lexicographers, and authors who together collected and published folklore. They are among the best-known storytellers of folk tales, popularizing stories such as “Cinderella” (“Aschenputtel”), “The Frog Prince” (“Der Froschkönig”), “Hansel and Gretel” (“Hänsel und Gretel”), “Little Red Riding Hood” (“Rotkäppchen”), “Rapunzel”, “Rumpelstiltskin” (“Rumpelstilzchen”), “Sleeping Beauty” (“Dornröschen”), and “Snow White” (“Schneewittchen”). Their first collection of folk tales, Children’s and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen), began publication in 1812.
The brothers spent their formative years in the town of Hanau in the Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel. Their father’s death in 1796 (when Jacob was eleven and Wilhelm was ten) caused great poverty for the family and affected the brothers many years after. Both brothers attended the University of Marburg, where they developed a curiosity about German folklore, which grew into a lifelong dedication to collecting German folk tales.
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The rise of romanticism in the 19th century revived interest in traditional folk stories, which to the brothers represented a pure form of national literature and culture. With the goal of researching a scholarly treatise on folk tales, they established a methodology for collecting and recording folk stories that became the basis for folklore studies. Between 1812 and 1857 their first collection was revised and republished many times, growing from 86 stories to more than 200. In addition to writing and modifying folk tales, the brothers wrote collections of well-respected German and Scandinavian mythologies, and in 1838 they began writing a definitive German dictionary (Deutsches Wörterbuch) which they were unable to finish during their lifetimes.
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The popularity of the Grimms’ collected folk tales has endured well. The tales are available in more than 100 translations and have been adapted by filmmakers (including Lotte Reiniger and Walt Disney), with films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In the mid-20th century, the tales were used as propaganda by Nazi Germany; later in the 20th century, psychologists such as Bruno Bettelheim reaffirmed the value of the work in spite of the cruelty and violence in original versions of some of the tales, which were eventually sanitized by the Grimms.