Review: The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Tales

Title: The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Tales
Author: Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Published: February 24, 2015
Paperback, 288 pages
ISBN: 9780143107422
Genre: Fantasy
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.

"A world without fairy tales and myths would be as drab as life without music."
-Georg Trakl

My Thoughts:
I think it's safe to say that most of the people reading this have grown up with fairy tales. Whether it be through reading books or watching Disney movies, we've all been exposed to the magic of these tales. Maybe even imagining what it must be like to be a princess or find yourself lost in the woods for a handsome prince to come and save you. I read Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid at a young age, and I remember crying over the fate of the main character. Good or bad, these stories stick with you for a long time.

A few years ago a whole new pot of gold was discovered when Erika Eichenseer happened upon hundreds of fairy tales that were thought to have 'vanished into thin air.' What's cool about these tales is that they're a sort of oral history.  Schönwerth collected these tales from the everyman. People of different classes and backgrounds. Stories that were passed on from generation to generation. Some of the tales are kinda rough and not very Disney-like. But if you've read books by the Grimm brothers then this style won't be new to you. You'll likely recognize similarities to well-known stories such as Cinderella, Snow White, and Cupid and Psyche

This volume is broken up into six parts: Tales of Magic and Romance, Enchanted Animals, Otherworldly Creatures, Legends, Tall Tales and Anecdotes, Tales About Nature. It has something that will appeal to just about everyone. One of the things I liked about this book is that it has a commentary at the end that gives you more information about each story. And it also has a "Suggestions for Further Reading" page. Which I love. I know some people often skip the Foreword and Introductions in books, but don't skip this one. It's very interesting reading. But now let's talk about the author.

Who is this Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth? Try to say his name fast five times and NOT get tongue-tied. I dare you! Franz Xaver Von Schönwerth lived in the 1800's: 1810-1886 to be exact. He had a successful career in law and was the personal secretary of Crown Prince Maximilian. In 1850 he began to work on a new project where he wrote down stories of people living in Upper Palatinate region of Bavaria. It wasn't an easy task to get people to trust him enough to record their tales, but he managed to convince them by offering gifts. Schönwerth did his best to not change the essence of the stories he'd been given. Thanks to some hardworking, diligent people, we can enjoy this new volume. 

My Rating: