Second edition of 'Mr. Korbes'

Foreword by the publishers for the 2nd edition (2020) of Mr. Korbes and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm

Dear girls and boys, before you enter the land of Mr. Korbes, Mrs. Trude, and the sea hare, we must tell you something which cannot be postponed any longer.

The first edition of this book appeared almost twenty years ago, in 2001, and, the following year, it received the Bologna Ragazzi Award for Best Fiction Book, awarded by the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Thanks to this award, it was published soon after by a South-Korean publishing house.

When we received the first copy of the Korean edition, we ran to show it to our neighbour Mi Kyung, thinking she would like to read it in her own language. A few days later, Mi Kyung informed us that she had read the stories and they had left her in shambles, since she could not remember having read anything like it as a child in Korea. ‘Korean parents want their children to be happy’, she said. We were a little worried, thinking that perhaps we were ruining a generation of Korean children by giving them nightmares. It was useless to reiterate that if these stories collected by the Grimm Brothers are still remembered today is because children have made them their own. Certainly Central European children, but also others who have discovered them from remote places of the world.

For this reason, now that we are putting them back into circulation with illustrations by Oliveiro Dumas and the faithful translation by Pedro Gálvez, we are forced to give the following warning, in case new generations are more impressionable than previous ones:

More than a hundred people die in this book (mainly peasants), and animals are not better off either, since six mice, three horses, a crow, a fish, a dog and an indefinite number of cows bite the big one. A stone also dies, although it may seem strange.

These are not real deaths, as all children know. They are stories. There is a bit of truth in most of them, because life is not often easy for most people, but some are so exaggerated they could be jokes. Well, now we have said what we had to.

The publishers

In the image, the book cover, illustrated by Oliveiro Dumas and taken from the FreeHand montage of the book’s first edition in 2001.