There’s an old story that states that Marcel Proust met James Joyce for five unremarkable minutes at a dinner party. Artistically significant though it may have been, it had less geopolitical significance than another famous meeting a hundred years earlier, in which Napoleon went out of his way to pay a visit to Goethe. As a new biography of the French emperor details, Napoleon couldn’t understand why Goethe admired Shakespeare.
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We’re all familiar with the Grimm-style fairy tales, with their evil stepmothers and imperiled princesses. But a new collection of 19th century Bavarian folk tales has been discovered, edited, and now released in English for the first time, and they’re darker, dirtier, and involve more gender-bending than the Grimm tales. Salon talks with the tales’ translator, Maria Tatar, about their history, importance, and “the surprising ways they upend our long-standing notions of the roles of heroes and heroines in some of Europe’s oldest and most popular stories.”