I am trying to compile, for personal use, a complete ebook of old fairytales. Fairytales are easy to find in the public domain, go look at Project Gutenberg and you will be inundated with large lists of compilations. However, each of those compilations is far from comprehensive, and many of them will have odd names for common tales making them difficult to find, and of course one compilation will have a different version of one story to another compilation. So I am copying and pasting to make my own.
This is a difficult process. Not so much the copying and pasting, that is easy, though tedious, with the right software - for reference I am using an Epub editor called Sigil, it's freeware and very handy. The difficult part is finding the stories you want. Of course I want the common classics, Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Pied Piper, etc. You would think this is easy. But as I already mentioned, there is more than one version for each story. Which should I use? This is the problem.
Should I read to my children the watered down Disney-fied tales? Or should I read them a story of a girl comatose in the woods, found by some prince who has his way with her and she wakes up much later having given birth to his children? My kids aren't easily frightened, and probably would have no inkling of what happens to Briar Rose in the original story, but I am not sure I want to read them a story that is shadowed by rape. At the same time, I like the idea of reading original stories rather than the watered down, politically correct, versions. So, as I said, its a difficult process.
Add to this extreme example, you also have minor things. Should I read them Hansel and Gretel or Hansel and Grethel? Should I read them the Pied Piper of Hamlin, or the Rat Catcher (of Hamel)? Should it be Sleepy Beauty or Briar Rose? Not many people know who Briar Rose is after all, but everyone knows Sleeping Beauty.
Another thing that I look at is the length of the story. Depending on the version, and this happens with watered down and classics, some are very long stories and others are a few paragraphs long. I know right now my kids don't have the best attention spans, so I will go for short versions, but I feel sometimes those short versions are missing too much.
Now I plan, or hope, that in the future, when my kids are older, that we will be able to look at multiple versions of certain stories and compare them, great literature study in my opinion, not to mention social study and even media when you compare stories to movies and shows. But right now, they are only 4 and 6 years old, so it wouldn't work that well.
So that is where I am right now, trying to compile an ebook that contains specific version of fairytales. How many times today have I read Snow White? I couldn't say, but now I remember why I haven't read them many fairytales before now.
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