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  • Lori Brack

Grimms' last story

Today I finished reading The Complete First Edition: The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm translated and edited by Jack Zipes. I chose this version because the Grimms had not yet changed the stories they collected. In this first edition, they were motivated by saving German culture and language. These weren't stories for children yet.


My copy now has several big sticky-note lists in the front where I marked the stories that resonated or intrigued or amused me most. My goal is to reread only those, to see what I might make of specific tales for my writing.


Here's what I want to remember today.

I ordered the book from Amazon on March 22, 2019, so it has been a full year since I began reading a tale a day, though of course I skipped days. The synchronicity of time - I did not plan this reading birthday. Somehow this book reminds me that magic isn't only inside books.


The Grimms end every edition of their tales - there are 7 - with "The Golden Key." Today, sheltering at home in this virus era, this tale hums like the wind outside making the awnings vibrate. Here is the whole thing:


Once in the wintertime when the snow was very deep, a poor boy had to go out and fetch wood on a sled. After he had gathered it together and loaded it, he did not want to go straight home, because he was so frozen, but instead to make a fire and warm himself a little first. So he scraped the snow away, and while he was thus clearing the ground he found a small golden key. Now he believed that where there was a key, there must also be a lock, so he dug in the ground and found a little iron chest. "If only the key fits!" he thought. "Certainly there are valuable things in the chest." He looked, but there was no keyhole. Finally he found one, but so small that it could scarcely be seen. He tried the key, and fortunately it fitted. Then he turned it once, and now we must wait until he has finished unlocking it and has opened the lid. Then we shall find out what kind of wonderful things there were in the little chest. (https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm200.html)


What wonderful things are in this little chest? (My chest where my heart and lungs keep doing their work, your chest where yours are, too.)


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