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Grimm's Fairy Tales

The Fox and the Geese -

a comparison of the first version (1812)
with the final version (1857)

German title: Der Fuchs und die Gänse
English title: The Fox and the Geese
Story position: Volume 1, Number 86
Story designation: KHM 86 ("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 Fox and the Geese 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 Fox and the Geese is a humorously "open-ended" story. It was the closer in Volume 1 of all the editions. Notice that the Grimms also closed Volume 2 with an unresolved story, The Golden Key.


The Fox and the Geese -
showing the significant differences between the first and final versions

THE fox once came to a meadow in which was a flock of fine fat geese, on which he smiled and said,

1:   "Aha, I

7:   "I

come at the nick of time, you are sitting together quite beautifully, so that I can eat you up one after the other." The geese cackled with terror, sprang up, and began

1:   to beg quite piteously

7:   to wail and beg piteously

for their lives. But the fox

1:   said:

7:   would listen to nothing, and said:

"There is no mercy to be had! You must die." At length one of them took heart and said, "If we


7:   poor geese

are to yield up our vigorous young lives, show us the only possible favour and allow us one more prayer, that we may not die in our sins, and then we will place ourselves in a row, so that you can always pick yourself out the fattest." "Yes," said the fox, "that is reasonable, and a pious request. Pray away, I will wait till you are done." Then the first began a good long prayer,


7:   for ever

saying, "Ga! Ga!" and as she would make no end, the second did not wait until her turn came, but began also, "Ga! Ga!"


7:   The third and fourth followed her, and soon they were all cackling together.

And when they have

1:   all


done praying, the story shall be continued further, but at present they are still praying without stopping.



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 . . .


Der Fuchs und die Gänse

Der Fuchs kam einmal auf eine Wiese, wo eine

1: Heerde
7: Herde

schöner fetter Gänse saß, da lachte er und

1: sprach: »Ei, ich
7: sprach »ich

komme ja wie gerufen, ihr sitzt hübsch beisammen,

1: da
7: so

kann ich eine nach der andern auffressen.« Die Gänse

1: gackten
7: gackerten

vor Schrecken, sprangen auf,

1: und fingen an gar
7: fiengen an zu jammern und

kläglich um ihr Leben zu

1: bitten; der Fuchs aber sprach:
7: bitten. Der Fuchs aber wollte auf nichts hören und sprach

»da ist keine Gnade, ihr müßt sterben.« Endlich nahm sich eine das Herz und

1: sagte: »sollen wir
7: sagte »sollen wir armen Gänse

doch einmal unser jung frisch Leben lassen, so

1: erzeig
7: erzeige

uns die einzige Gnade und erlaub uns noch ein Gebet, damit wir nicht in unsern Sünden

1: sterben,
7: sterben:

hernach wollen wir uns auch in eine Reihe stellen, damit du dir immer die fetteste aussuchen kannst.«

1: »Ja,
7: »Ja,«

sagte der Fuchs,

1: das ist billig und eine fromme Bitte,
7: »das ist billig, und ist eine fromme Bitte:

betet, ich will so lange warten.« Also

1: fing
7: fieng

die erste ein recht langes Gebet

1: an: ga! ga!
7: an, immer »ga! ga!«

und weil sie gar nicht aufhören wollte, wartete die zweite nicht, bis die Reihe an sie kam, sondern

1: fing auch an ga! ga!
7: fieng auch an »ga! ga!« Die dritte und vierte folgte ihr, und bald gackerten sie alle zusammen.

(Und wenn sie

1: alle

ausgebetet haben, soll das Märchen weiter erzählt werden, sie beten aber alleweile noch immer fort.)


























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