Blogging with Herodotus, Burns and the Brothers Grimm

Tonight my students and I were reading about the Brothers Grimm. Now like you, I grew up reading, watching and learning many of their stories, but I did not understand how the brothers came up with the stories. Apparently, in 1806 both Jacob and Wilhelm began to collect folktales, inspired by the work of Clemens Brentano and Achim von Arnim who collected folk poetry.

Within 12 years they had become experts in their fields, published 4 important tomes of stories and sagas. Moreover, they go onto become professors at prominent universities as a result of their research into the linguistics, folklore and history. It is a very fruitful career for them, that grew out of their interest and passion for stories that had never been recorded before. For those of you who would like a trip down memory lane visit the National Geographic Grimm pages.

So what does all of this have to do with blogging? It occurred to me that as bloggers we need to be doing the same thing, we need to follow the model that the Brothers Grimm laid out, in fact perhaps even they were following earlier role models! So what is it they did?

1. They followed their hearts: their love for stories is what kindled their passion. They would go searching for stories to retell and record. In their travel was not easy, not like modern day communication and transportation, so when they traveled, it required quite an effort! Their natural passion overcame such burdens as these! … For bloggers, writing with a passion is what drives your success! It can overcome almost every other challenge you will face! Just as I’m using this post to invigorate myself! How do you invigorate your posting when things aren’t so easy?

2. They collected the stories that they heard. Doing this they followed in the tradition of the earlier Greek Historians, Robert Burns, and many other writers, who traveled the world of their days. In many instances, like Herodotus’ histories, there are references to peoples, stories, and cities found in these works that we would not otherwise know about, except for their recordings. … For Bloggers, I look around the blogging world, and see so many writers and blogs now trying to be like’s blog! Don’t get me wrong, his is a great blog, truly! But, just as there is only one John Chow, or one Herodotus, and there is only one you! What makes your blog special? It may be apparent from day one, or it may be the result of your blogging that you begin to get a sense of what distinguishes you from the ‘crowd’. What information are you collecting? What perspective are you providing on the world?

3. Creating a record of the stories and events was not the only thing that these writers had to do. They had to manage and interpret the material for their own ends, to recreate the materials for their audiences, at times quite removed from the authentic audiences that first heard the stories. Herodotus wove his stories and mythologies into a reflective and interpretive history; Robert Burns recorded and preserved much of the oral literature of his time; and the Brothers Grimm interpreted, retold and analyzed the stories for their ‘cultured’ audiences and readership. … For bloggers, we write and reflect much more so than regular ‘media’ like TV or the newspaper, so it’s incumbent on us to offer a more ‘thoughtful’ perspective! We don’t have to churn out posts like EnGadget, but perhaps we can take time every now and then to think things through. Thanks, for that inspiration. What is your angle on things?

So bloggers, we live in a much different time than these writers do, and we write for a medium that they could never have imagined! I wonder if these principles still hold true!

Thanks for sharing, do let me know if this sparks any thoughts! I’d love to hear them!