Clever Maids by Valerie Paradiz
The Secret History Of The Grimm Fairy Tales

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Most people know the stories of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, but very few know that behind the Brothers Grimm and their fairy tales stood a network of sisters-and mothers, neighbors, and female friends. In this intimate history, Valerie Paradiz tells the real story of the greatest literary collaboration of the nineteenth century, and gives the long-lost narrators of these beloved tales their due. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were major German intellects of their time, contemporaries of both Goethe and Schiller. But as Paradiz reveals here, the romantic image of the two brothers traveling the countryside, transcribing tales told to them by peasants, is far from the truth. More than half of the tales the Grimm brothers collected were contributed by women friends from the upper classes. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars and the high years of German romanticism, Clever Maids chronicles this most fascinating enterprise in literary history, and illuminates the ways the Grimm tales-with their mythic portrayals of courage, sacrifice, and betrayal-still resonate so powerfully today.

About Valerie Paradiz

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Valerie Paradiz was born in Colorado and has lived and worked in Germany and Japan. For several years she has taught literature and writing at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. She lives with her son in Woodstock, New York.
Published April 27, 2009 by Basic Books. 240 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Non-fiction

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The daughters of the Wild family, neighbors and close friends of the Grimms’ sister Lotte in the Hessian town of Kassel, were their first source, followed soon afterward by the Hassenpflug daughters from another Kassel family.

Jan 04 2005 | Read Full Review of Clever Maids: The Secret Hist...

Publishers Weekly

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Contrary to popular myth, the Brothers Grimm collected their stories not from peasants but from educated young women in their locale of Kassel, Westphalia.

Nov 29 2004 | Read Full Review of Clever Maids: The Secret Hist...

Project MUSE

This book "is about the forgotten and unknown women of the Grimms' fairy tales, the social climate in which they collected their stories, and the extraordinary collaboration that bridged the gender divisions inherent in romantic culture to bring the stories into print" (xii).

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