Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales | Featured Book

Mulluane | Wednesday, April 08, 2015 | 3 Comments so far

Violent, dark, and full of action, and upending the relationship between damsels in distress and their dragon-slaying heroes, Schönwerth’s fairy tales as collected in THE TURNIP PRINCESS bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre. 
Information Source: Penguin Classics


With THE TURNIP PRINCESS, 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 Erika Eichenseer uncovered thirty boxes of manuscripts in a German municipal archive.
The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales
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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, they bring us closer than ever to the unadorned oral tradition in which fairy tales are rooted, revolutionizing our understanding of a hallowed genre.


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.

My Notes:

I read most of these and unfortunately I often finished a story totally confused as to its message. What I didn't know -- until far too late -- is that there is a meticulous analysis of each story in the "Commentary" section found at the back of the book.

There is also a detailed introduction which I'll admit, I didn't read. I scanned it but it reads like a textbook on fairy tales. Interesting but a bit dry.

In my humble opinion, you'll get the most out of this book if you are interested in its history and origins. This is also a book to be relished for both the miracle of its discovery and the subsequent translation. 

It is NOT a book of stories you'd read to your kids or for pure entertainment. It is a collection to be studied; comparing each story to its explanation in the Commentary when needed and comparing them to the tales we grew up with. It is definitely a priceless look at the history of fairy tales.

Mulluane is a 55-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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Dragons, Heroes and Wizards


  1. Interesting and intriguing...
    From your description these stories sound indeed a bit dark for children consumption, but on the other hand even more classic stories hold some horrific detail: Cinderella's sisters cutting their feet to wear the glass shoe; the wolf eating Red Riding Hood's grandmother; and so on...
    And all of these stories were born long before the term "grimdark" was created! :-)

    1. so true! But Anderson and Grimm still had positive endings. In these, that isn't always the case. Someday I'll sit down and really examine these but from a more literary/historical view :>)

  2. I don't know about the book, but the illustrator, Engelbert Süss also made a sculpture for the Marketplace in the city of Amberg. The sculpture commemorates a wedding which occurred there in 1474 which was attended by over 1000 guests.


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