Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Turnip Princess by Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth

Publication: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Source: Publisher

A rare discovery in the world of fairy tales - now for the first time in English.
With this volume, the holy trinity of fairy tales - the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen - becomes a quartet. In the 1850s, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth traversed the forests, lowlands, and mountains of northern Bavaria to record fairy tales, gaining the admiration of even the Brothers Grimm. Most of Schönwerth's work was lost - until a few years ago, when thirty boxes of manu­scripts were uncovered in a German municipal archive.
Now, for the first time, Schönwerth's lost fairy tales are available in English. Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, these more than seventy stories bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre.
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

I have to admit, that I have pretty much always enjoyed a good fairy tale or two. And when I had the opportunity to read The Turnip Princess I was intrigued.

Franz Von Schonwerth stories are local stories...passed down or given to him orally. There is no ‘Once upon a time’ in this book. The stories are unique, dark, and entertaining. Morals in them could be debatable, but there are definitely surprises and twists that pop up in the various plots. The book is broken into five parts or categories; ranging from magic and romance, to otherworldly creatures, legends, and everything in between. No matter what you poison(preference) is, there is pretty much something for everyone.

One of the things I liked was in some of the stories I read, the women were not weak and helpless damsels in distress. They could be strong and fierce. Not something I would see much of in other fairy tales.

These are German stories originally and then translated, so the language/way it was written was a little different than I had anticipated, but overall The Turnip Princess was a very interesting read. There wasn’t much censorship in the stories I read, so if you are looking for light fairy tales without roughness and gore then this is not for you. But if you like fairy tales with a bit of an edge to them, then you would want to check this out.

RATING: 3 out of 5.


FRANZ XAVER VON SCHÖNWERTH (1810-1886) was born in Amberg, Bavaria. He had a successful career in law and the Bavarian royal court, rising to the post of personal secretary to the Crown Prince Maximilian. In the 1850s he began to explore the culture of the Upper Palatinate region of Bavaria, recording his observations and the stories of the people he interviewed. Eventually he devoted himself full-time to his research and, between 1857 and 1859, published From the Upper Palatinate: Customs and Legends, cataloging the customs and folktales of his homeland in unprecedented detail. This work contained only a fraction of his total research, the rest of which was eventually discovered in an archive, forming an important addition to the canon of classic fairy tales.
ERIKA EICHENSEER discovered 500 previously unknown fairy tales of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth in the municipal archive of Regensburg, Bavaria, in 2009. In 2010 she published a selection entitled Prinz Rosszwifl [Prince Dung Beetle]. She began her career as a teacher, then worked in the theater for the cultural department of the regional government of East Bavaria. An expert on fairy tales and on puppet theater, she has written numerous books on folk art and customs and has appeared on television, produced radio programs, and performed all over Bavaria as a storyteller. She is co-founder and director of the Schönwerth Society and initiator of the Schönwerth Fairytale Path in Sinzing, near Regensburg, and she wrote the libretto for a musical based on Schönwerth’s “The Flying Chest.” She has been awarded many honors for her services to Bavarian culture.
MARIA TATAR chairs the program in folklore and mythology at Harvard. She is the author of many acclaimed books on folklore and fairytales, as well as the editor and translator of The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen,The Annotated Brothers Grimm, The Classic Fairy Tales: A Norton Critical Edition, and The Grimm Reader. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
ENGELBERT SÜSS is a sculptor, glass-artist, and illustrator who was born in 1949 in eastern Bavaria. He created the bronze statue “King of Dwarfs” for the Schönwerth Fairytale Path in Sinzing, Bavaria.

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