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Terrors of Childhood in Grimms’ Fairy Tales

Series:

Winfried G. Kudszus

Questioning culturally predetermined consolidations of childhood experience, this study focuses on memory and affect on the verge of linguistic formulation. Fairy tale plots frequently function as cover-ups of a deeply rooted violence that expresses itself through sensibilities of the skin and in presymbolically charged cataclysms. In a narrative border zone, early linguistic and psychic events reemerge with primordial force. Split into seemingly irreconcilable opposites, good and evil engage in warfare with each other; cannibalism and infanticide take hold of family life. Four tales are presented here as related in 1857 by the Brothers Grimm, along with new translations. Through in-depth readings of these intricately interpersonal texts, this inquiry explores a frightful silence.