The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault—all were well known collectors of fairy tales, those magical, lesson-infused stories spread centuries ago in the oral tradition. A lesser known collector, Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth, was also at work recording old stories he heard in northern Bavaria during the same time as the Grimms. Until recently, his work remained lost. But with the discovery of manuscripts resting in a German archive, Schönwerth’s tales have now been published for all to read.
The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales is a collection of more than 70 of Schönwerth’s stories, selected from a cache of 500 by the woman who discovered them, Erika Eichenseer. Many of the tales sound similar to ones already known, such as Cinderella and Seven at One Blow, but many are less familiar.
Most of the tales are dark and cautionary, often with one wise brother or sister who outsmarts siblings, or a magical being who brings aid to those who are destitute. Sometimes animals play the role of enchanted humans waiting to be set free. All provide a glimpse into the lives of the people who told these stories and passed them along to others. The Turnip Princess should appeal to anyone who enjoys reading fairy tales, both as a comparison to what has come before them and as something to be appreciated on its own.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.