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Friday, June 9, 2023

Grimm - The Goblins - (and Maurice Sendak) - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

If we were able to keep Maurice Sendak alive and generating his many wonderful books and illustrations for others, today, June 10, 2023, would be his 95th birthday instead of a year and a decade after his death.  Unfortunately as the Wikipedia article about him points out:

Sendak died on May 8, 2012, at age 83, in Danbury, Connecticut, at Danbury Hospital, from stroke complications, a month before his 84th birthday. In accordance with his wishes, his body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at an undisclosed location.[24][25]

Wikipedia: The characters illustrated in Where the Wild Things Are caused some controversy for their grotesque appearance that parents alleged to be too scary for children.[citation needed]  

That Wikipedia article names many influences and also a 1968 exhibition at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he loaned the bulk of his work, including nearly 10,000 works of art, manuscripts, books and ephemera.  I couldn't help noticing there were "Unique materials from the Rosenbach collection that relate to Sendak's work, including an 1853 edition of the tales of the Brothers Grimm."

There are a multitude of editions and translations of the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm.  As near as I can tell the 1853 edition is the book called Household Tales by Brothers Grimm  that was translated by Margaret Hunt.  It is the complete collection and offers 200 tales plus an additional ten legends.  Out of those 210 stories in that complete collection, Sendak worked with Lore Segal to produce The Juniper Tree, and Other Tales from Grimm.  Copyright prevents my using that book's translations, but Hunt's translation can be used.  You can see it and her translation of the complete Grimm tales at Project Gutenberg.  She has the story Juniper Tree calls "The Goblins" as the third of three stories she groups together as Tale number 39, "The Elves." Hunt's translation isn't really different except for calling them "Elves."  I'm going to reprint this brief little "Household Tale" but change it to "Goblins" as that certainly fits Sendak and his "Wild Things."

                                                        The Goblins

A certain mother’s child had been taken away out of its cradle by the goblins, and a changeling with a large head and staring eyes, which would do nothing but eat and drink, laid in its place. In her trouble she went to her neighbour, and asked her advice. The neighbour said that she was to carry the changeling into the kitchen, set it down on the hearth, light a fire, and boil some water in two egg-shells, which would make the changeling laugh, and if he laughed, all would be over with him. The woman did everything that her neighbour bade her. When she put the egg-shells with water on the fire, the imp said, “I am as old now as the Wester forest, but never yet have I seen any one boil anything in an egg-shell!” And he began to laugh at it. Whilst he was laughing, suddenly came a host of little goblins, who brought the right child, set it down on the hearth, and took the changeling away with them. 


Of the many tributes upon Sendak's death, I especially appreciate the one by Neil Gaiman:

"He was unique, grumpy, brilliant, wise, magical and made the world better by creating art in it."[26]

That was from an article in the Washington Post of reactions by "authors and celebrities" to Sendak's death.  I was unable to go to an online copy of that article, but think this mural fits all of us who fell under the spell of Sendak.
A mural, at Wicker Park, Chicago, alludes to Sendak's passing.          


This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown -

         - Richard Martin -

         - Spirit of Trees -

         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for December 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - 

           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories


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