The old grandfather and the grandson

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The old grandfather and the grandson is a moral parable ( ATU 980 (1)). It is in the children's and house tales of the Brothers Grimm at position 78 (KHM 78) and comes from Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling's autobiography Heinrich Stillings Jünglingsjahre (1778), but has been attested earlier. Jung-Stilling's version is based on Johann Michael Moscherosch's memorial poem Kinderspiegel from 1643 in Insomnis cura parentum .


The old grandfather can no longer eat his soup properly, he spills it and it keeps running out of his mouth. As his son and daughter in front of disgust , he has to sit while eating in the corner. When he breaks his bowl, all he gets is a wooden bowl from which he has to eat. Shortly afterwards, the four-year-old grandson collects little boards and explains to the parents that he wants to make a little trough that father and mother should eat out of when he grows up and they are old. The parents then begin to cry and bring the grandfather back to the dining table.


The text reproduced from the first edition of Grimm's Children's and Household Tales (1812) as No. 78 belongs to the not so small number of stories which the Brothers Grimm took from printed models. In addition to the source, Johann Heinrich Jung-Stillings Heinrich Stillings Jünglingsjahre , Grimm's note mentions other oral and written versions.

In Heinrich Stilling's youth , the story is told towards the beginning by a boy in Latin school and fits in with the changed domestic circumstances after the death of his grandfather:

“Yes,” replied the boy, “I stood by how it happened.” But Henrich Stilling did not laugh, he stood and looked down in front of him; history penetrates his marrow and bone, to the core of his souls; finally he began: “That should have happened to my grandfather! ... ""

The Brothers Grimm took over the text unchanged, only the name ("the old spring") and time-bound formulations ("yesterday his earthen bowl broken") they left out. In its version, the story has become world-famous, which would not have happened either through the reproduction of young stillings or through the long and well-documented tradition.


The fairy tale is completely atypical for the Brothers Grimm collection, it is more of a short instructive story. In addition, it contains neither fairytale nor improbable elements that the fairy tale could have happened as it is written. The behavior of the child, who wants to imitate in a playful way what they experienced with their parents, is also completely natural and child-friendly. Whether the child intentionally wants to shame his parents is not clear from the fairy tale. The fairy tale is often found in primary school reading books due to its brevity, non-violence and catchy morals. A similar theme have Grimm's fairy tales no. 145 The ungrateful son and lever Calendar History child thanks and -undank .


  • Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling: Henrich Stillings youth, adolescence, wandering and domestic life. Bibliographically amended edition. Reclam-Verlag, Stuttgart 1997. p. 93, ISBN 3-15-000662-7 .
  • Heinz Rölleke (Ed.): Grimm's fairy tales and their sources. The literary models of the Grimm fairy tales are presented synoptically and commented on. 2., verb. Edition, Trier 2004. pp. 108-109, 558-559 (Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier; series of literature studies, vol. 35; ISBN 3-88476-717-8 ).
  • Hans-Jörg Uther: Handbook to the children's and house fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. de Gruyter, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-11-019441-8 , pp. 181-183.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Hans-Jörg Uther: Handbook on the children's and house tales of the Brothers Grimm. de Gruyter, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-11-019441-8 , p. 182.