The Boy Who Shuddered, free audio book

My new 22 minute reading of the short tale “The Boy Who Shuddered” (aka “The Boy Who Left Home to Learn Fear”), from the famous book of folk tales transcribed by the Brothers Grimm. I’ve adapted and abridged the tale. My audio book version is now on, under a Creative Commons licence. The downloadable MP3 has none of the slight crackle that the audio in’s Flash preview player has.

One comment on “The Boy Who Shuddered, free audio book

  1. David Haden says:

    There’s an interesting structure to the original Grimms story. One might even see it as the history of man as a hunter-gatherer from Gobekli Tepe (circa 9,000 BC) to the early Bronze Age (circa 3,000 BC). Here’s the essential pith of the story in the order it occurs, mapped to the basic history of hunter-gatherer humanity…

    1. Early mankind in fear around a campfire, telling stories of fearful things. Throughout the tale fire is central motif.

    2. Recognition that there are humans with drastically different levels of intellectual ability. (Benefits of skills-sharing across large territories between different hunter-gatherer bands. Collective intelligence vs. isolated band intelligence).

    3. Encounter with religious experience in an elevated place / artificial platform. (Early forms of ‘elevated’ or ‘constructed’ spiritual experience, outside of basic woodland animism).

    4. Banished by father, on the road with money (The pre-agricultural importance of trade routes and early exchange systems, operating outside of father-son structures).

    5. The gallows on a hill and the taking down of the bodies (new ancestor/death rituals around exposure on platforms, aka ‘sky burials’ which involved the later taking down of the bodies) (see Gobekli Tepe).

    6. Encounter with the farmer and the puzzling conversation about the boy’s identity (the new farmers do not “know” the nomad).

    7. The innkeeper (development of basic beer opens up new spiritual and inter-clan bonding possibilities for hunter-gatherers. Early cultivation of grain for both brewing and also ‘pickling’ preservation of ancestor skulls. (See Gobekli Tepe).

    8. Finds an imposing stone structure guarded by ancient spirits. Has a limited time to spend there, in a test of endurance. (See Gobekli Tepe).

    9. Encounter in the stone structure with the spirits of dangerous animals, and he vanquishes them. (See Gobekli Tepe).

    10. Encounters cats and dogs on chains around the fire (The historical taming of these in domestic ‘fireside’ forms)

    11. The bed/dream experience (Humanity conquers fear of night dreams, and/or the fear of the speed of horse and boat riding).

    12. The chimney and the domestic hearth and the strange “half-men” (Early agricultural settlements see man being psychologically “cut in half” as he’s severed from nature. Ancestor worship moves from neolithic temples into the domestic sphere, through to retention of skulls in the home).

    13. The coffin and the resurrection attempt (New burial practices and their administering priesthoods. The idea of resurrection).

    14. The giant bearded man in the forge (Violent encounter with monotheistic gods / early metal-makers, and the nomadic evasion of them through ‘tricksterism’).

    15. Kingship, feasting, sexual fecundity and breeding. (Large-scale settled civilisations).

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