Tag Archives: philip pullman

387 Stories: Day 8: Story 8: The Frog King, Or Iron Heinrich: A New Version by Philip Pullman

Title: The Frog King, Or Iron Heinrich
Author: Brothers Grimm, a new version by Philip Pullman
Taken from: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

Today was the day to start believing in fairy tales all over again. To look at the world from a child’s point of view and not with the cynicism I have been harboring for a while now. Winter is upon us and I honestly could not think of a better reason for today’s story to be a retelling of a Grimm brothers fairy tale. This one is “The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich”.


We all are aware of the fairy tale. A princess. A ball of yarn that falls in a well. A frog to the rescue with a condition and at the end of it all, there is happy ever after ending. The metaphor of kissing a frog is so apt for modern times. The entire setting is not lost when Pullman says it. In fact, I think he enhances it also with a quick note at the end, telling readers more about the fairy tale. A nice one for today.

Book Review: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm Title: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version
Author: Philip Pullman
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9780670024971
Genre: Fairy Tales
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

We are all fascinated by fairy tales. From the time we know of their existence, to the time we believe in some of them as we grow up, and hope they do come true as we live out our lives. Fairy tales play a very important role in our lives. We never really forget what is handed down to us at such a young age – fairy tales are never forgotten.

Having said that, every version somehow seems to be different every time it has been retold. The Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales were among the first ones to be told and retold and retold and handed down over generations. The brothers heard the tales through various sources and this was way back in 1812, when there was a seemingly large interest in German everything. What Philip Pullman started doing some time ago was that he started giving his voice to fifty of the Grimm tales. He started writing them differently (well not so much so – the structure remains the same). Pullman does not try and give a different spin to the tales. He respects them hugely. What he does instead is just clean lines, make them more satisfying so to say (at least for me) and give us further insight into each tale picked by him, by adding relevant footnotes at the end of every tale.

The book consists of popular tales such as, “Rapunzel”, “The Robber Bridegroom” and “Hansel and Gretel” and also some of them such as, “The Nixie of the Millpond” and “The Goose Girl”. Philip Pullman does a fantastic job of putting his point through this book. The tales are well-structured and hit the so-called sweet spot of the reader’s imagination. The other thing in the book which is not there and which works brilliantly is the use of pictures. There are no illustrations in the book, which is great, as readers have to use their imagination to capture in their minds what they read on paper.

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm comes in a lovely penguin classics deluxe edition with the fantastic illustration of Hansel and Gretel on the cover, or it could be any other fairy tale actually and yet it just speaks to you in so many ways.

All in all, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman is a very satisfying read which goes down well with a nice cup of hot chocolate way into the night.

The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman

It’s not an easy task to write about a man who was named God and turn it into a story, as the back of the book says, “This is a Story”. Powers of Imagination have to run wild and that’s what Mr. Pullman has done with this book. He has taken it to a whole new level. I do not love reading all books, contrary to popular belief, I love reading good books and thank God (hmmm is the pun intended? I do not think so) for writers such as Mr. Pullman.

The Story of Jesus H. Christ is said to be the Greatest Story Ever Told and yet Philip Pullman’s book is set on the premise that how do we know the facts if we were never there? Could the story be any different? Can it be made different? And that’s what it sets out to do. It makes it human. It is almost as good as believing a traveller who has travelled wide and far and one cannot challenge what he says. One just believes it.

I was scared before the book was published. I thought that may be devout Catholics would condemn this book (and may be they did), however I was not aware of it. I was just excited to read this book and like I said earlier, I enjoyed reading it. This book was not written with the intention of scandalising people or the faith, it was written just to see things differently. The teachings are the same that are mentioned in the Bible. It is just made easier for people to understand.

For example, “‘Lord, if I thought you were listening, I’d pray for this above all: that any church set up in your name should remain poor, and powerless, and modest. That it should wield no authority except that of love. That it should never cast anyone out. That it should own no property and make no laws. That it should not condemn, but only forgive.”

Mr. Pullman takes it a step further by making us see that if miracles did not happen, they might have to be created. To keep the faith alive. Seen through the eyes of Jesus and his twin Christ, the book runs through not proclaiming that the Bible is false or was false, but just that this book is only a story. After all it all depends on who is reading it, right?

The Good Man Jesus And The Scoundrel Christ; Pullman, Philip; Penguin Viking; ISBN: 978-0-67008-444-9; Rs. 499