Who do they think they are?
The Brothers Grimm assess JK Rowling's fairy tale
Theme Park envy?
Wilhelm: She's amazing. She could have been in one of our Kinder-und Hausmärchen. Her life is as much a fairy tale as Potter's, don't you think, brother? She must think she's still dreaming.
Jakob: You've lowered your standards. Where's the violence in her life, Wilhelm? We wouldn't have called anything a fairy tale unless it was riddled through with evil and violence. You've bought into this Disney thing, haven't you? Where kissing frogs is about as unpleasant as it gets. Don't you remember that, in our original, the frog was hurled at the wall to wake him up? That kind of Disney schmaltz is what's making children ungovernable these days. Fear provides the structure a child needs. How can Rowling's life be a lesson in structure to anyone?
Wilhelm: She had to struggle, Jakob, but came through magnificently. Give her that.
Photo: Brothers Grimm statue, Wikipedia Commons
Photo: JK Rowling, bbc.co.uk
Photo: grimm swimsuit, fandomania.com
Photo: Theme Park, hollywoodnews.com
What will happen when JKR wakes up?
Jakob: Rowling lived in Scotland, which, I concede, may well be a struggle for anyone. She attended Exeter University, which is only slightly humiliating. She spent a year in Paris without getting raped, addicted or consumptive. She had to spend hours in a coffee house so that she could think in peace, which might have strained her bladder but usually is not physically or psychologically damaging. The State was giving Rowling money, which I don't believe is inevitably ruinous to self-esteem. Her exposure to monsters has been limited to all those award ceremonies she goes to. No, Wilhelm, there has never been anything frightening in her plight, anything moral in her life story. She had one idea and bludgeoned it all the way to the bank. Which is what every mediocre story teller in the world wants to do.
Wilhelm: You're jealous, brother. Which saddens me. We were never after fame and fortune. Most of it came after we were gone, anyway.
Jakob: Not jealous. Angered, perhaps, at the way the world judges worth. We weren't about Hansel and Gretel, The Girl with No Hands, Snow White or The Old Woman in the Wood, we were about a sense of national identity. By plying visitors to our house in Kassel with cordials and beers, by listening to their favourite stories, we helped Germans understand what it is to be German. I'm not saying we did more than Bismarck to unify our country but our collections of folk legends, along with our Deutsches Wörterbuch, made people proud of German culture. Bismarck built on that. Is any part of the world stronger for what Rowling is or does?
Made any connections?
If you can link the past to the present, we’d love to hear from you.
Jakob: Are you deliberately upsetting me, Wilhelm? Is the fact that I'm still living with you and your wife so annoying?
Wilhelm: I don't literally want you to move on, brother, but I would like to see some of your attitudes soften. Become more accepting of a world that has changed. Theme Park envy is not attractive. Besides, we have a theme park too.
Jakob: We have a space in the German Culture Village on Miyakojima Island, visited only by bored Japanese. She has The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Universal Orlando Resort, visited by hordes from around the world. Almost a thousand culture-forming tales and legends outshone by one strung-out story of a lovable boy wizard. It's humiliating.
Wilhelm: You're forgetting the Spreepark in Berlin where every German who wanted to terrify their children sent them on spooky rides into a giant wolf's mouth inspired by our tales.
Jakob: It's derelict. Only used as a film set.
Wilhelm: Yes, brother, perhaps because Rowling understands what children want a lot better than we did. You never had children, Jakob. The stories you collected were never for children, they were allegories of the dark and dangerous world adults lived in. As soon as I had my first son, I understood why, if we were to call them childrens' Fairytales, we had to change them. Rowling is only building on my style.
Jakob: Your style? Listen to yourself, Wilhelm. As though I had little to do with the books! You polished what I collected, that's all. I wasn't going to say this, brother, but I think Rowling's style is better for children. More sympathetic.
Wilhelm: If that's your attitude, I'm not sure we can stay under the same roof.
Jakob: You want me to move out?
Wilhelm: It wouldn't be before time. You are two hundred and twenty five years old.
The Brothers’ opinion was interpreted by Will Coe, July 2011
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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando, Florida