Monday, March 9, 2015

The Turnip Princess

I can't say that I have ever reviewed a book of fairy tales before now, so when I was asked if I was interested, I said absolutely! I love reading fairy tales to my children, so I thought maybe a book of grown up ones would be a good switch from what I usually read, and I certainly wasn't disappointed.

The Turnip Princess & Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales - Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth
The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales
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.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


Though this book comes in at 288 pages, it is a FAST read. I started reading it shortly after dinner time and I had this book finished by the time I went to bed, about 4 hours later. Mostly because each "chapter" is a story and they are all very short, so you say to yourself, "oh... just a couple more" and then you realize you're half done with the book. Also, the tales are straight up bizarre. Most fairy tales, in their original state, are bizarre, dark, and sometimes violent so it's no surprise that is what you will get with this book. I'm not familiar with Charles Perrault, but I am familiar with the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson and this book fits quite nicely in the style of their works. 

In some of the fairy tales, the way they are written is kind of terribly written. Now, it might be because when it was originally written in German, maybe Franz is a crappy writer. OR, maybe the translation process does the best it can while staying as true to the writing and it just reads a bit oddly? So in some of the short stories I struggled a bit sticking with it. What is interesting, that I thought of after I finished reading, was how similar fairy tales are. Some of them feel a little repetitive, some were so bizarre I wondered what the point of it was, and then others were so fascinating. 

If you are a fan of fairy tales or short stories, this is definitely something you should pick up. Also, if you teach literature at a high school level, it may be a cool thing for students to read and talk about how original telling of a fairy tale differs from a Disney version. Another interesting review of this book can be read HERE. You can purchase this book at Barnes & Noble and Amazon right now. 

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2 comments:

Lani Cox said...
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Lani Cox said...

I LOVE fairy tales so when I heard about this book I was pleasantly surprised. Woo hoo. I'll have to pick it up when I'm back in the States. Thanks!