Main Entry: thau·ma·turg
Etymology: French, from New Latin thaumaturgus, from Greek thaumatourgos working miracles, from thaumat-, thauma miracle + ergon work — more at Theater, Work
The official blog of the Dramaturgy Department at Baltimore's CENTERSTAGE. For posts related to our current and upcoming shows, click the links to the right. Alternatively, you could begin at the beginning, and explore our posts in chronological order.
The wolf, now piously old and good,
When again he met Red Riding Hood
Spoke: “Incredible, my child,
What kinds of stories are spread. They’re wild.
As though there were, so the lie is told,
A dark murder affair of old.
The Brothers Grimm are the ones to blame.
Confess! It wasn’t half as bad as they claim.”
Little Red Riding Hood saw the wolf’s bite
And stammered: “You’re right, quite right.”
Whereupon the wolf, heaving many a sigh,
Gave kind regards to Granny and waved good-bye.
By Vivian Vande Velde
If the coach turned back into a pumpkin
And the coachman into a rat
And the footmen into mice,
One can only wonder
Why the glass slippers alone remained untouched by magic’s ebbing tide.
Obviously a set-up.
But by whom?
The fairy godmother’s ability
Didn’t extend beyond midnight.
And where would a cinder girl
Have ever gotten shoes like that?
Could they possibly have been a secret gift
From the stepmother,
Eager to get her out of the house,
Tired of her unrelenting goodness,
(not to mention all that singing)?
There were so many fascinating comments on my post about the dead-girl trend in YA book cover design that I hardly know where to begin addressing them. But as I ambled over to the coffee shop where I write these posts, something about the sight of winter branches and the feel of warm air that lies of springtime turned my thoughts to fairy tales, and from fairy tales back to this discussion.
“How Some Children Played at Slaughtering”
The pioneering collection of fairy tales published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the first half of the 19th century reflects both the romantic interest in the national past—that is, in the cultural origins and “childhood” of the German people—and the burgeoning efforts to create a literature tailored to the perceived needs of children. “How Some Children Played at Slaughtering” encompasses two stories included in the first edition of Grimms’ collection (vol. 1, 1812). The brothers’ decision to withdraw the tales from subsequent editions provides insights into the Grimms’ generic conception of the fairy tale and debates about appropriate reading material for children. The two stories themselves shed light on the ways in which adults construct ideas about childhood.
Source: Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. “How Some Children Played at Slaughtering.” In The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, translated by Jack Zipes, 600-01. Expanded 3rd ed. New York: Bantam, 2003. Original German: Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. “Wie Kinder Schlachtens miteinander gespielt haben.” In Kinder- und Hausmärchen gesammelt durch die Brüder Grimm, Vol. 1, 101-03. Berlin: Realschulbuchhandlung, 1812.
How Some Children Played at Slaughtering
In a city named Franecker, located in West Friesland, some young boys and girls between the ages of five and six happened to be playing with one another. They chose one boy to play a butcher, another boy to play was to be a cook, and a third boy was to be a pig. Then they chose one girl to be a cook and another girl her assistant. The assistant was to catch the blood of the pig in a little bowl so they could make sausages. As agreed, the butcher now fell upon the little boy playing the pig, threw him to the ground, and slit his throat open with a knife, while the assistant cook caught the blood in her little bowl.
A councilman was walking nearby and saw this wretched act. He immediately took the butcher with him and led him into the house of the mayor, who instantly summoned the entire council. They deliberated about this incident and did not know what they should do to the boy, for they realized it had all been part of a children’s game. One of the councilmen, an old wise man, advised the chief judge to take a beautiful red apple in one hand and a Rhenish gulden in the other. Then he was to call the boy and stretch out his hands to him. If the boy took the apple, he was to be set free. If he took the gulden, he was to be killed. The judge took the wise man’s advice, and the boy grabbed the apple with a laugh. Thus he was set free without any punishment.
There once was a father who slaughtered a pig, and his children saw that. In the afternoon, when they began playing, one child said to the other, “you be the little pig, and I’ll be the butcher.” He then took a shiny knife and slit his little brother’s throat.
Their mother was upstairs in a room bathing another child, and when she heard the cries of her son, she immediately ran downstairs. Upon seeing what had happened, she took the knife out of her son’s throat and was so enraged that she stabbed the heart of the other boy, who had been playing the butcher. Then she quickly ran back to the room to tend to her child in the bathtub, but while she was gone, he had drowned in the tub. Now the woman became so frightened and desperate that she did not allow the neighbors to comfort her and finally hung herself. When her husband came back from the fields and saw everything, he became so despondent that he died soon after.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, “”How Some Children Played at Slaughtering” [Children’s Literature],” in Children and Youth in History, Item #113, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/113 (accessed February 4, 2012). Annotated by Donald Haase
~Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road