1902 Encyclopedia > Wilhelm Carl Grimm

Wilhelm Carl Grimm
German folklorist and philologist

WILHELM CARL GRIMM, (1786-1859). The chief events in the life of Wilhelm Grimm have been narrated in last article. The two brothers were indeed so inti-mately associated both in their lives and in their works that a separate biography of the younger is almost super-fluous. As Jacob himself said in his celebrated address to the Berlin Academy on the death of his brother, the whole of their lives were passed together. In their school-days they had one bed and one table in common, as students they had two beds and two tables in the same room, and they always lived under one roof, and had their books and property in common. Nor did Wilhelm's marriage in any way disturb their harmony. As Cleasby said ("Life of Cleasby," prefixed to his Icelandic Dictionary, p. lxix.), "they both live in the same house, and in such harmony and community that one might almost imagine the children were common property." Wilhelm's character was a complete contrast to that of his brother. As a boy he was strong and healthy, but as he grew up he was attacked by a long and severe illness, which left him weak all his life. His was a less comprehensive and energetic mind than that of his brother, and he had less of the spirit of investigation in him, preferring to confine himself tc some limited and definitely bounded field of work; he utilized everything that bore directly on his own studies, and ignored the rest. These studies were almost always of a literary nature, and the majority of his works, including those he carried on in common with his brother, are concerned either with literary problems, or popular traditions, or else are text-editions. It is characteristic of his more aesthetic nature that he took great delight in music, for which his brother had but a moderate liking, and had a remarkable gift of story-telling. Cleasby, in the account of his visit to the brothers, quoted above, tells that "Wilhelm read a sort of farce written in the Frankfort dialect, depicting the ' malheurs' of a rich Frankfort tradesman on a holiday jaunt on Sunday. It was very droll, and he read it admirably." Cleasby describes him as "an uncommonly animated, jovial fellow." He was, accord-ingly, much sought in society, which he frequented much more than his brother.

His first work was a spirited translation of the Danish Kozmpeviser (Altdanische Heldenlieder), published in 1811-13, which attracted great attention, and made his name at first more widely known than that of his brother. The most important of his text-editions are—Ruolandslied, Gottingen, 1838; Konrad von Würzburg's Goldene Schmiede, Berlin, 1840; Grave Ruodolf, Gottingen, 1844 (2d ed.); Athis unci Prophilias, Berlin, 1846 ; Altdeutsche Gespräche, Berlin, 1851; Freidank, Gottingen, 1860 (2d ed.). Of his other works the most important is Deutsche Heldensagc, Berlin, 1868 (2d ed.). His Deutsche Runen (Gottingen, 1821) has now only an historical interest. (H. SW.)

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