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Grimm's Fairy Tales

The Ditmars Tale of Wonders -

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

 
German title (1815): Das Dietmarsische Lügen-Märchen
German title (1857): Das Dietmarsische Lügenmärchen
English title: The Ditmars Tale of Wonders
English title: The Ditmarsch Tale of Wonders
English title: The Tall Tale from Ditmarsh
Story position (first edition): Volume 2, Number 68
Story position (final edition): Volume 2, Number 73
Story designation: KHM 159 ("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 Ditmars Tale of Wonders 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 Ditmars Tale of Wonders is an insanely nutty story, stringing impossibility on crazy impossibility. Great! But I always felt the Grimms must have made a transcription error, marring the whole thing for me. Check out this passage:

Three fellows who wanted to catch a hare, went on crutches and stilts; one of them was deaf, the second blind, the third dumb, and the fourth could not stir a step. Do you want to know how it was done? First, the blind man saw the hare running across the field, the dumb one called to the lame one, and the lame one seized it by the neck.

Surely, in this "wonder" of teamwork, the dumb one calls to the deaf one. I was hoping the first version would have it right, but was disappointed to find the same "typo." However, there is a footnote that gives the source of the story:

A dancing song, "Von eiteln unmöglischen Dingen", in Anton Viethen's Johann Albert Fabricius's Beschriebung und Geschichte des Landes Dithmarschen (1733).

Surely the source will have it right! I tracked that down on Google Books, not without some hair-pulling, I might add:

Von eiteln unmöglischen Dingen; .
Von eiteln unmöglischen Dingen; ein ander vergleichen Lied

Note the last two lines of the bracketed passage, "De Stumme sprach den Lahmen tho, De freg em by den Kragen." So even the original has it wrong! Darn, darn, darn...

 

The Ditmars Tale of Wonders -
showing the significant differences between the first and final versions

I WILL tell you something. I saw two roasted fowls flying; they flew quickly and had their breasts turned to heaven and their backs to hell, and an anvil and a mill-stone swam across the Rhine prettily, slowly, and gently, and a frog sat on the ice at Whitsuntide and ate a ploughshare. Three fellows who wanted to catch a hare, went on crutches and stilts; one of them was deaf, the second blind, the third dumb, and the fourth could not stir a step. Do you want to know how it was done? First, the blind man saw the hare running across the field, the dumb one called to the lame one, and the lame one seized it by the neck.

There were certain men who wished to sail on dry land, and they set their sails in the wind, and sailed away over great fields. Then they sailed over a high mountain, and there they were miserably drowned. A crab was chasing a hare which was running away at full speed, and high up on the roof lay a cow which had climbed up there. In that country the flies are as big

1:   as the goats are here in this country.

7:   as the goats are here.

 

1:  

7:   Open the window, that the lies may fly out.

 

***

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 (khm.li). 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 . . .

 

1: Das Dietmarsische Lügen-Märchen
7: Das Dietmarsische Lügenmärchen

Ich will euch etwas

1: erzählen: ich
7: erzählen. Ich

sah zwei gebratene Hühner fliegen, flogen schnell und hatten die Bäuche gen Himmel gekehrt, die Rücken nach der Hölle, und ein Amboß und ein Mühlstein

1: die
7:

schwammen über den Rhein, fein langsam und leise, und ein Frosch saß und fraß eine Pflugschaar zu Pfingsten auf dem

1: Eis; da waren drei Kerls,
7: Eis. Da waren drei Kerle,

wollten einen Hasen fangen,

1: gingen
7: giengen

auf Krücken und Stelzen, der eine war taub, der zweite blind, der dritte

1: stumm
7: stumm,

und der vierte konnte keinen Fuß rühren.

1: Wollt’
7: Wollt

ihr wissen, wie das geschah? Der Blinde der sah zuerst den Hasen über Feld traben, der Stumme der rief dem Lahmen zu, und der Lahme faßte ihn beim Kragen. Etliche die wollten zu Land segeln und spannten die Segel im

1: Wind,
7: Wind

und schifften über große

1: Aecker hin,
7: Äcker hin:

da segelten sie über einen hohen Berg, da mußten sie elendig

1: versaufen.
7: ersaufen.

Ein Krebs jagte einen Hasen in die Flucht, und hoch auf dem Dach lag eine Kuh, die war hinauf

1: gestiegen; in dem Land
7: gestiegen. In dem Lande

sind die Fliegen so

1: groß, als hier zu Land die Ziegen.
7: groß als hier die Ziegen. Mache das Fenster auf, damit die Lügen hinaus fliegen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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