Book Review: The 1810 Grimm Manuscripts

Book cover. Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org “The 1810 Grimm Manuscripts” is translated and annotated by Oliver Loo.

If you are looking for a book of quick Grimm fairytales for sleepy-time reading, this isn’t your book.

If you want to dive deep into the nuances and research of some of the earliest versions of the collected Grimm tales, this is a pool of knowledge and information you need to visit.

Loo explores the subtle meanings of many words in the often-handwritten notes of the Grimm brothers, bringing to light a new understanding of what words mean, acknowledging that some German words can’t be directly translated. This is especially true as he works to define some phrases and meanings that are more than 100 years old.
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Two Plus One is Greater than Three: The Presence of the Number 3 in Fairytales and Folklore

Although I do not believe that the “number three” requirement should limit the classification of a story as a folktale, such a requirement for classifications does elicit several questions. Why the focus on the use of the number three? What does the number three represent?

(1+2) > 3: The Presence of the Number Three in Folktales

By: K. Sean Buvala

As storytelling has moved from its perceived position of folk art to more mainstream recognition, the inevitable attempts to classify, catalog, and define it have become more ambitious. Storytelling is now a subject one can “take” for college credit. Although I believe that learning storytelling in a focused environment is overall a positive area of growth for storytelling, along with these classroom opportunities comes the need to create and memorize definitions of the characteristics of different types of stories.

Three wedding rings stacked on a dark background

For many storytellers, educators, and folklorists, the classification of a “folktale” requires that it include some reference to the number or sets of three. Such stories as “Three Blind Mice,” “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” and “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” are common examples of the titles and subjects of basic folktales reflecting this concept. Although I do not believe that the classification of a story as a folktale should be limited by the “number three” requirement, such a requirement for classifications does elicit several questions. Why the focus on the use of the number three? What does the number three represent?

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Storyteller: What is Your Singular Subtlety?

purple hued picture of a hand holding a lens

What is the singular, intentional and subtle thread that runs through the story you are telling?

With a skilled storyteller, many things are happening in each storytelling that the audience may not be consciously aware of. It can be as simple as a gesture you make, a tone shift, or a pacing decision. I consider this singular subtlety to be felt by the live audience as a “something.” They’ll feel this when you, as the teller, get out of the way of the story; don’t preach, don’t moralize, don’t teach. Speak it and let the subtlety do the work.

Example One: When I tell my distinct version of “Beauty and the Beast,” I’ve decided that Beauty is a take-charge, inner-strength person.

Her presence and actions are intentional, measured, and concise. She is strong in the chaos of her family, learning what her fate is. She is strong in the face of the storm, which is the Beast’s anger. She’s not a victim. Note that in my telling, I don’t overtly name this strength. I don’t tell my audience about Beauty’s personality. I show it. I use it. I model it. I embody it.

Example Two: More business storytelling: my story of the angry manager in the bathroom has a subtle thread of “bemusement.” If you don’t know the story, it’s essentially how one person at a corporate event thought the speaker was terrible and angry-man was being very vocal about it…in the men’s bathroom. I was the speaker. . The bemusement shows in my telling, in how other people reacted to the manager, in how I responded to him, and ultimately how he responded to me.

Example Three: When I tell “The Tiger’s Whisker,” my subtle thread is “quiet.” Everything in this story, about a woman training a tiger to make a magic potion, is quiet. Never once do I say “quiet” in my words, but I know the singular subtlety is quiet. It’s not the subtle “strong” of Beauty; it’s the “quiet” presence of each character. And no one is “bemused.”

What is the singular subtlety thread that ties any of your great stories together?

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Sean Buvala is a storyteller and communication coach in Avondale, Arizona. He is the founder and director of Storyteller.net. Photo by Stephen Kraakmo on Unsplash

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Sean Buvala

sean buvala stands at a microphone with his hand on his headStorytelling Saves the Day.

Since the mid-1980s or so, Sean Buvala has been connected to the art of storytelling. He started working with the art form when a group of 13-year-old students were just a bit homicidal (comically, but you never know) during some of Sean’s classes. Working with a story out of pure desperation, he converted those kids from budding criminals (not really, but maybe) to practitioners of the fine art of storytelling. Well, that is how he remembers it.

Storytelling. Publishing. Communication.

Sean tells stories that range from simple fable to complex personal tales. He’s most at home telling stories the audience doesn’t expect but probably needs. You’ll find him most immersed in “inappropriate folktales appropriately told.” He works with adult audiences in a variety of settings. Most of his work these days is as the publisher at “The Small-Tooth-Dog Publishing Group LLC” in Arizona, where he’s helping new authors speak their stories in person and print.

Diverse Audiences.

Sean has been presenting and storytelling “on the road” for decades. He’s traveled to perform and present workshops in most of the United States and to hundreds of organizations in those states. His audiences have ranged from just a few people gathered in a living room to several thousand teens and adults. Both national organizations and local groups have experienced Sean as a teller and workshop leader.

Sean’s experience also involves training and design for the telecommunication and hospitality industry. He is especially good for the entrepreneurial and start-up communities. He’s done customer service instruction/team development for companies ranging from government to faith-based organizations to major corporations.

Visit his website at seantells.com.