The latest programme of BBC's In Our Time about the Brothers Grimm has a bit of a slow start, but if you are willing to bear with that a lot of good is to be had.
The project of sampling folk tales turns out to have a much wider importance than that of a kind of anthropological or historic or linguistic effort. Even though the tales eventually make up the landscape of children's tales, their meaning are that of a romantic search for the German. The culture that was so shattered and that was coming together in this new nation and needed some unity. This also explains the liberties that were taken with the material.
The thought struck me that the meaning went even further. If the tales spoke so profoundly to the whole of Europe, even if it were as children's tales, in a way this collection took on some unifying meaning of European culture. And then you may see that there is the romantic idea there is such a beast and there is the forced construction of one, in order to supply the need.
More In Our Time:
The modest proposal,
History of history,
The Consolation of Philosophy,
The Great Fire.