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Knoist and his Three Sons
Grimm Märchen

Knoist and his Three Sons - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 2 min

Between Werrel and Soist there lived a man whose name was Knoist, and he had three sons. One was blind, the other lame, and the third stark-naked. Once on a time they went into a field, and there they saw a hare. The blind one shot it, the lame one caught it, the naked one put it in his pocket. Then they came to a mighty big lake, on which there were three boats, one sailed, one sank, the third had no bottom to it. They all three got into the one with no bottom to it. Then they came to a mighty big forest in which there was a mighty big tree. In the tree was a mighty big chapel in the chapel was a sexton made of beech-wood and a box-wood parson, who dealt out holy-water with cudgels.

„How truly happy is that one
Who can from holy water run!“

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Knoist and his three sons“

„Knoist and His Three Sons“ is a short fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm collection. It is numbered as tale 154 in their anthology, „Children’s and Household Tales“ (1812). The story is relatively obscure compared to other well-known tales by the Brothers Grimm and is often categorized as a humorous or nonsensical tale.

The story goes as follows:

Knoist, a man who lives in a small village, has three sons. One day, he decides to go into the forest to cut some wood with his sons. When they arrive at the forest, the first son climbs up a tree to mark the place where they will chop, the second son is ordered to stand below and look up to his brother, and the third son is told to chop down the tree. However, as the third son swings his ax, he accidentally strikes the second son in the leg, causing an injury.

Knoist takes the injured son to a nearby inn to seek help. The innkeeper’s daughter offers to help by applying a plaster made from dough to the wound. Meanwhile, Knoist and his two uninjured sons go back to the forest to continue chopping wood. They leave the injured son at the inn, where he eats the dough plaster instead of using it for his wound.

In the end, Knoist returns to the inn to check on his injured son, only to find out that he has eaten the plaster. Knoist declares that his son is a fool and decides to leave him at the inn.

The background of this tale lies in its categorization as a humorous or nonsensical story. Unlike many other fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, „Knoist and His Three Sons“ does not feature a clear moral lesson or a protagonist overcoming adversity. Instead, it offers a light-hearted and comical narrative that likely served as entertainment in a more casual storytelling context.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Knoist and his three sons“

„Knoist and His Three Sons“ is a short, humorous tale from the Brothers Grimm collection that does not follow the typical structure of a moral-laden fairy tale. Nonetheless, there are some interpretations and themes that can be derived from the story:

Human folly: The story humorously depicts the foolishness of Knoist and his sons, who bumble through their attempts to cut wood. The tale can be seen as a lighthearted commentary on the simple-mindedness and mistakes that people can make, even in everyday tasks.

Miscommunication and misunderstanding: The story showcases the consequences of miscommunication and misunderstanding between Knoist and his sons. For instance, the injured son eats the dough plaster meant for his wound, further highlighting the absurdity and lack of common sense among the characters.

The importance of competence: The tale can be interpreted as a cautionary example of the need for competence and skill in performing tasks. The sons‘ incompetence in cutting wood results in injury and failure, emphasizing the importance of knowing how to complete tasks efficiently and safely.

Entertainment and humor: As a nonsensical story, „Knoist and His Three Sons“ serves primarily as a form of entertainment. It may have been told and enjoyed for its humor and absurdity, providing a break from more serious, moral-driven tales.

While „Knoist and His Three Sons“ does not offer a clear moral lesson, it provides an amusing narrative that can be interpreted as a commentary on human folly, miscommunication, and the importance of competence. Moreover, it serves as a reminder that not all stories need to have deep meanings or moral lessons; sometimes, they are simply meant to entertain and amuse.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Knoist and his three sons“

„Knoist and His Three Sons“ is a relatively obscure fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm collection, and it has not garnered as much attention or adaptation as some of their more well-known stories. Due to its brevity and lack of a clear moral lesson, this tale has not inspired many adaptations, particularly in popular media like films and television.

However, „Knoist and His Three Sons“ can be found in some anthologies and collections of Brothers Grimm stories, such as illustrated books and modern retellings of lesser-known tales. These adaptations might provide updated language or artistic illustrations to accompany the original story. For example:

„Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales“ (Leather-bound Classics): This collection, published by Canterbury Classics, includes the complete collection of Brothers Grimm fairy tales, including „Knoist and His Three Sons.“ The book features illustrations and updated language to make the stories more accessible to modern readers.

„The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales“ (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library): This edition, edited by Jack Zipes, offers a comprehensive collection of the Brothers Grimm’s stories. The book presents the tales in their entirety, including „Knoist and His Three Sons,“ and features illustrations by Josef Scharl.

Although adaptations of „Knoist and His Three Sons“ are limited, the story can still be found in collections of the Brothers Grimm tales, where it serves as an example of a more light-hearted and humorous story among the more well-known moral-driven tales.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Knoist and his three sons“

„Knoist and his Three Sons“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm collection and has not been adapted as frequently as some of their more popular tales. However, there have been a few adaptations of the story in various forms of media. Here are some notable examples:

Theater: In 1980, the German playwright Tankred Dorst wrote a play called „Knoist and His Sons“ that was loosely based on the Grimm tale. The play explores themes of family loyalty, aging, and death.

Television: The story has been adapted for television in several different languages, including a 1979 Polish television adaptation called „Knoyst i Jego Trzej Synowie“ and a 1997 Russian adaptation called „Knoyst i ego tri syna.“

Literature: In 2012, children’s author Eric A. Kimmel published a retelling of the story called „Knoist and His Three Sons: A Tale from Grimm.“ The book features illustrations by Leonard Everett Fisher and is aimed at younger readers.

Audio: The story has also been adapted as an audiobook, including a 2008 recording of the tale by Jim Weiss, a storyteller and founder of the audio publishing company Greathall Productions.

Overall, while „Knoist and his Three Sons“ is not as well-known as some of the other Grimm tales, there have been a few adaptations of the story in various forms of media.

Summary of the plot

„Knoist and His Three Sons“ is a short, humorous tale from the Brothers Grimm collection. The plot revolves around Knoist, a man who lives in a small village with his three sons.

One day, Knoist takes his sons into the forest to cut some wood. The first son climbs a tree to mark the spot for chopping, the second son stands below to watch the first son, and the third son is told to chop down the tree. As the third son swings his ax, he accidentally hits the second son in the leg, causing an injury.

Knoist takes his injured son to a nearby inn for help. The innkeeper’s daughter offers a plaster made from dough to treat the wound. Knoist and his two uninjured sons return to the forest to continue cutting wood, leaving the injured son at the inn. The injured son, misunderstanding the purpose of the dough plaster, eats it instead of applying it to his wound.

When Knoist returns to the inn and discovers that his son has eaten the plaster, he declares his son a fool and decides to leave him at the inn.

The story of „Knoist and His Three Sons“ serves as a light-hearted and comical narrative, focusing on the foolishness and misunderstandings of the characters rather than providing a clear moral lesson.

—————-

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Knoist and his three sons“

„Knoist and His Three Sons“ is a short and peculiar fairy tale collected and published by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859). The Brothers Grimm were German linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected and published folklore during the early 19th century. They are best known for their collection of fairy tales titled „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales), first published in 1812. The collection has been translated into numerous languages and remains one of the most popular collections of fairy tales worldwide.

The fairy tale „Knoist and His Three Sons“ is part of this collection and appears in later editions, including the seventh and final edition published in 1857. The story takes place in a fantastical world between the towns of Werrel and Soist, and it stands out due to its brevity, absurdity, and open-ended moral lesson.

The Brothers Grimm collected their stories from various sources, including oral traditions, friends, and acquaintances. Many of these tales had their roots in European folklore, myths, and legends, which were passed down through generations before being recorded by the Grimm brothers. It is unclear where exactly „Knoist and His Three Sons“ originated or what specific cultural context it might have been influenced by, as its background is not as well-documented as some of the more famous tales in their collection. However, the story’s uniqueness and peculiar nature provide readers with a distinctive experience and an opportunity to explore multiple interpretations of its themes and moral lessons.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Knoist and his three sons“

„Knoist and His Three Sons“ is a short and peculiar fairy tale, offering various interpretations based on its strange events and characters. Here are a few possible interpretations:

Overcoming limitations through teamwork: The story shows how Knoist’s three sons, each with their unique disabilities, manage to achieve their goals by working together. This could be interpreted as the power of collaboration and the importance of relying on one another to overcome individual limitations.

Embracing unconventional solutions: The tale includes several instances where the characters opt for peculiar or unconventional approaches, such as choosing the boat with no bottom or the sons achieving the seemingly impossible tasks. This could be interpreted as a lesson to think outside the box and not be restricted by conventional wisdom.

The ambiguity of happiness: The closing couplet, „How truly happy is that one / Who can from holy water run!“ can be interpreted in multiple ways. It could suggest that true happiness is found by avoiding religious dogma or escaping the control of authoritative figures. Alternatively, it might imply that happiness is elusive and depends on one’s ability to navigate life’s challenges, much like the three brothers‘ journey.

Acceptance of individuality: Each of Knoist’s sons has a distinct trait that could be seen as a disadvantage. However, these peculiarities contribute to their success in various tasks throughout the story. This could be a reminder to embrace one’s individuality and not to judge others based on their appearances or abilities.

Satirical take on societal norms: The story’s odd situations and characters could also be seen as a satirical take on traditional values and societal norms, with the Brothers Grimm poking fun at the conventional wisdom and encouraging readers to question preconceived notions.

Overall, „Knoist and His Three Sons“ offers multiple layers of interpretation, inviting readers to reflect on themes of teamwork, individuality, unconventional problem-solving, and the pursuit of happiness.

Summary of the plot

„Knoist and His Three Sons“ is a short fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, set in a fantastical world between the towns of Werrel and Soist. The story revolves around a man named Knoist and his three peculiar sons – one blind, one lame, and one stark-naked.

The tale begins with the three sons venturing into a field where they spot a hare. Despite their individual disabilities, the blind son manages to shoot the hare, the lame one catches it, and the naked one stores it in his pocket. This feat demonstrates their remarkable ability to work together and overcome their limitations.

Next, the three brothers approach a vast lake with three boats – one that sails, one that sinks, and one with no bottom. Rather than choosing the functional boat, they all board the one without a bottom, showcasing their unique way of solving problems.

As the story unfolds, they reach a massive forest and discover an enormous tree. Inside the tree, they find a chapel where a sexton made of beech-wood and a box-wood parson are distributing holy water using cudgels. The tale ends with an ambiguous moral conveyed through a couplet:

„How truly happy is that one
Who can from holy water run!“

While the moral of the story is open to interpretation, the narrative highlights the importance of working together, embracing unique qualities, and finding unconventional solutions to problems.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
NumberKHM 138
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 1965
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI,
Readability Index by Björnsson18.6
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index92.2
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level4.7
Gunning Fog Index6.9
Coleman–Liau Index5.9
SMOG Index3.3
Automated Readability Index4.6
Character Count760
Letter Count574
Sentence Count9
Word Count156
Average Words per Sentence17,33
Words with more than 6 letters2
Percentage of long words1.3%
Number of Syllables179
Average Syllables per Word1,15
Words with three Syllables0
Percentage Words with three Syllables0%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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