Sunday, November 29, 2015

Turnip Princess

I found a copy of "The Turnip Princess" in a local library! This is the collection of Schonwerth tales translated by Maria Tatar. I have the Schonwerth collection edited and translated by M. Charlotte Wolf, and have posted on it before, but wondered how these collections compare.

I've just been browsing through "Turnip Princess", but there are some really interesting gems in there, including a version of Cinderella ("Ashfeathers"; it is a friendly dwarf who helps Cinderella get her dress and not a godmother or the spirit of her mother). There are, of course, many stories that aren't directly connected to our most popular fairy tales. Some of them are very dark and violent, as many unedited folktales are, and unlike the Grimms there are more references to sexuality, although none of them too explicit, as compared to some of our modern entertainment.
Arthur Rackham

The version of "Tom Thumb" is a good example of the physical and scatological humor found in the volume. Thumbnickel crawls through the keyhole into the treasure chest of the merchant who bought him, and tossed out the coins to his father. To avoid being whipped by the merchant he hid in a barrel of salt-but then the salt was fed to the cows, and Thumbnickel is passed through a cow (fully intact of course) and stuck in a pile of dung, about to be eaten by a mouse who is about to be eaten by a fox, until his father comes plowing nearby and manages to save him.

It seems gross but at the same time, when people lived in an age before indoor plumbing and many of our modern conveniences that allow us to be more discreet about our bodily functions, I guess it was better to embrace those aspects of life with humor than to stress out about them too much! And as we know, that type of humor is still enjoyed by children especially.

Both volumes have the tales separated into categories, which is really helpful. And it doesn't appear that there's much duplication of tales in each volume (Schonwerth had collected around 30,000 pages of text!!), so if you have one book and are considering getting the other, I consider it worth it to have both! You can compare versions of some tales side by side (such as "The Valiant Little Tailor," which I posted about here but mentioned Tatar talks of details that weren't in my version-they can be found in "Turnip Princess"). Wolf's collection has more tales (150 as opposed to Tatar's 72) but the stories found in Tatar's collection seem a little more easily digestible-shorter, faster paced, and more like the typical fairy tale formula we are used to. Although one major perk in the Wolf volume, for those of you who speak German, is the dual translation feature-you can read the original German on one page and the English on the other.


  1. I have this on my wishlist,but there are so many great books it's hard to decide which to choose.

    1. I have a really long wishlist too! I was happy to find this in a nearby library.