brother grimm

Another Grimm tale today. This one is from the “Tales for Adults” section of The Annotated Brothers Grimm. “The Hand with the Knife” was the eighth tale in the first edition of the Grimms’ stories, but was left out of later editions.

Its a simple story and starts in a standard fairy tale way. We have a girl with three brothers. The mother loved the boys will all her heart, but was mean to the girl and treated her badly. Every day the girl had to go out with nothing but an old dull tool and dig peat for cooking and heating. Happily for her, an elf who live near their home, admired her and everyday, when she passed by his hill, he would reach out of a boulder and give her a magical sharp knife that would cut anything. It allowed her to do her work quickly, and every day on the way she would tap twice on the boulder. The elf would reach out and take the knife.

Of course mother becomes suspicious and send sthe boys out to spy on the girl, thinking she must have help. The brothers follow the girl and learn the secret of the magic knife. The catch up with her and force her to give them the knife. The boys head back home, tapping on the rock when they pass it as they knew the girl did. When the elf reached his hand out, they cut it off with the knife. “The bloody arm pulled back, and because the elf believed that his beloved had betrayed him, he was never seen again.”

The end. No punishment for the brothers or the mother. No quest for the young, disadvantaged child. No prince to save the girl from a life of misery. It doesn’t follow the rules. The brothers don’t try to trick the elf into helping them and recieve something negative instead; they just cut off his hand. I can’t say I’m surprised it didn’t make the later editions of the collection.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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