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Grimm's Fairy Tales

The Three Sluggards -

a comparison of the first version (1815)
with the final version (1857)

German title: Die drei Faulen
English title: The Three Sluggards
English title: The Three Lazy Sons
Story position: Volume 2, Number 65
Story designation: KHM 151 ("Kinder- und Hausmärchen")

Quick history: There were seven editions of the Grimm's Fairy Tales published in the Grimm Brothers' lifetime. Each edition was presented in two volumes. Volume 1 of the first edition appeared in 1812; Volume 2 of the first edition appeared in 1815. Both volumes of the seventh (7th) and final edition appeared in 1857.

(Take me directly to the detailed comparison in the original German.)

Here are the nontrivial differences between the first and final versions of The Three Sluggards using the English translation by Margaret Hunt (1884). We disregard spelling, punctuation, and grammar updates, and minor shuffling of words.

In the difference spots, "1:" indicates the first edition (1815), and "7:" indicates the seventh and final edition (1857). Naturally, Hunt worked with the final edition, so all of the words in the common passages and the lines labeled "7:" are hers. Think of the lines labeled "1:" as what she would have produced if she had translated the 1st edition. Highlighted words direct your attention to the added, deleted, or changed wording. Click on "1:" to see the difference spot in the original German.


The Three Sluggards -
showing the significant differences between the first and final versions

A CERTAIN King had three sons who were all equally dear to him, and he did not know which of them to appoint as his successor after his own death. When the time came when he was about to die, he summoned them

1:   to himself

7:   to his bedside

and said:"Dear children, I have been thinking of something which I will

1:   say unto you;

7:   reveal unto you; [1]

whichsoever of you is the laziest shall have the kingdom." The eldest said, "Then, father, the kingdom is mine, for I am so idle that if I lie down to rest, and a drop falls in my eye,

1:   I will not shut it that I may sleep."

7:   I will not open it that I may sleep." [2]

The second said; "Father, the kingdom belongs to me, for I am so idle that when I am sitting by the fire warming myself, I would rather let my heel be burnt off than draw back my leg." The third said, "Father, the kingdom is mine, for I am so idle that if I were going to be hanged, and had the rope already round my neck, and any one put a sharp knife into my hand with which I might cut the rope, I would rather let myself be hanged than raise my hand to the rope." When the father heard that, he said,

1:   "Thou shalt be king."

7:   "Thou hast carried it the farthest, and shalt be king."

[1] Hunt uses "declare" here.
[2] WARNING! At a glance, this "difference" seems to show the Grimms actually reversing the sense. In reality, the German versions are identical; both versions say "shut" (zuthun). It appears that Hunt envisioned the eldest son already asleep and too lazy to open an eyelid when hit by a raindrop. The other is the correct interpretation, I believe. The son is too lazy to close his eyes to get some sleep, even when raindrops are falling on them. Now that's lazy!



To identify the differences, I did a word-by-word comparison of the first and final versions in the original German. I used texts provided on the fine "Kinder- und Hausmärchen der Brüder Grimm" site ( In the comparisons below, as above, "1:" indicates the first version (1815), and "7:" indicates the seventh and final version (1857).

Und nun, auf Deutsch, mit aller Unterschieden zwischen die erste und letzte Ausgaben . . .


Die drei Faulen

Ein König hatte drei Söhne, die waren ihm alle gleich lieb, und er wußte

1: nicht,
7: nicht

welchen er zum König nach seinem Tode bestimmen sollte. Als die Zeit

1: kam
7: kam,

daß er sterben wollte, rief er sie vor

1: sich und sprach: »Liebe
7: sein Bett und sprach »liebe

Kinder, ich habe etwas bei mir bedacht, das will ich euch

1: sagen:
7: eröffnen:

welcher von euch der Faulste ist, der soll nach mir König werden.« Da sprach der

1: älteste:
7: älteste

»Vater, so gehört das Reich mir, denn ich bin so faul, wenn ich liege und will schlafen, und es fällt mir ein Tropfen in die Augen, so mag ich sie nicht zuthun, damit ich einschlafe.« Der zweite

1: sprach:
7: sprach

»Vater, das Reich gehört mir, denn ich bin so faul, wenn ich beim Feuer sitze mich zu wärmen, so ließ ich mir eher die Fersen verbrennen,

1: eh’
7: eh

ich die Beine

1: zurückzöge.« Der dritte sprach:
7: zurück zöge.« Der dritte sprach

»Vater, das Reich ist mein, denn ich bin so faul,

1: sollt’ ich aufgehenkt werden
7: sollt ich aufgehenkt werden,

und hätte den Strick schon um den Hals, und einer

1: gäb’
7: gäbe

mir ein scharf Messer in die Hand, damit ich den Strick zerschneiden dürfte, so ließ ich mich eher

1: henken, eh’
7: aufhenken, eh

ich meine Hand

1: aufhübe
7: erhübe

zum Strick.« Wie der Vater das

1: hörte: sprach er: »Du
7: hörte sprach er »du hast es am weitesten gebracht und

sollst der König

1: seyn.«
7: sein.«


























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