February 13, 2015

The Turnip Princess


“A world without fairy tales and myths would be as drab as life without music.”  ~George Trakl

Title: The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales
Author: Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth
Publisher: Penquin Classics
ISBN-10: 0143107429
ISBN-13: 978-0143107422


The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales, authored by Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth, and compiled by Erika Eichenseer, is a group of his previously unknown stories from the 1800s that were recently (2009) discovered in a Bavarian archive.  These seventy-four tales, mainly centering on damsels in distress and their rescuing heroes, are only a fraction of Schönwerth’s total body of work and are finally available in English.

One of the things I enjoyed about this compendium of German folktales is how they made me tap into my childhood. I didn’t read these particular types of stories, some of which are bigoted, dark, and risqué, but they still employ the imagination, and radiate a magic of times gone by.

Other aspects I found gratifying were the author’s unique storytelling voice and style, the sinister, suggestive plots, and action-packed scenes—quite a wallop of entertainment value.


The book is sectioned into the following six parts:
Tales of Magic and Romance
Enchanted Animals
Otherworldly Creatures
Legends
Tall Tales and Anecdotes
Tales About Nature

Most of the folk/fairy tales are 1-3 pages in length, allowing the reader to tackle as little or as much as they desire in one setting without having to backtrack as they might have to in longer reads. The translation into English didn’t seem to disturb the elements of tradition or understanding.


Though fairytales are often thought of as children’s fiction, (at least to me) many of the stories included in this book are too sinister and bawdy for young minds, (and perhaps some sensitive adults as well.)

This genre may not be for everyone, but if you seek highly imaginative stories that blend the art of childhood wonder with adult fantasy, you’ll appreciate this book.



Extra! Extra!
About the Author: (From inside the cover) Franz Xanver 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 collection 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.    

4 Stars


Cover: Okay
Title: Okay
Pages: 288
First Lines (From Hans The Strong Man, on pg. 48): There was once a farmer, and he had two sons. The mother named one of the boys Hans and nursed him for seven years.

Review by Cheryl, reviewer for BookPleasures.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher through BookPleasures. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.