Broadly speaking, the Grimms sought to collect and preserve all kinds of ancient relics as if they were sacred and precious gems that consisted of tales, myths, songs, fables, legends, epics, documents, and other artifacts — not just fairy tales. They intended to trace and grasp the essence of cultural evolution and to demonstrate how natural language, stemming from the needs, customs, and rituals of the common people, created authentic bonds and helped forge civilized communities.
The Grimms have often been criticized, especially by critics in the last 50 years, for having changed and edited the tales from the first to the seventh edition. That is, they never lived up to their own words that the task of the collector is to record the tales exactly as they heard them. In other words, various critics have complained that the Grimms’ tales are inauthentic folk tales. But this is a ridiculous if not stupid argument, for nobody can ever record and maintain the authenticity of a tale. It is impossible. And yet, the Grimms, as collectors, cultivators, editors, translators, and mediators, are to be thanked for endeavoring to do the impossible and to work collectively with numerous people and their sources to keep traditional stories and storytelling alive. In this respect their little known first edition deserves to be rediscovered, for it is a testimony to forgotten voices that are actually deep within us. Hence, the irresistibility of the Grimms’ tales that are really not theirs, but ours.
You can read more about the Brothers Grimm at Wikipedia, and you can also read more about the author of the article, Jack Zipes.
1819 edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen
illustrated by Ludwig Emil Grimm,
younger brother to Jacob and Wilhelm.