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Mar 12 2012

Hundreds of new fairytales discovered

by Jesse M

In the mid-1800s, German local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth spent years wandering the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz, speaking with country folk, laborers, and servants, collecting information about local habits, customs, and history, and recording on paper what had previously been oral tradition. A contemporary of the Brothers Grimm, Von Schönwerth was well regarded by his fellow folklorists. Jacob Grimm went so far as to tell King Maximilian II of Bavaria that the only person who could replace him in his and his brother’s work was Von Schönwerth.

Von Schönwerth compiled his research into a book called Aus der Oberpfalz – Sitten und Sagen, published in three volumes in 1857, 1858 and 1859 (For German readers, there is a free ebook version available for Kindle, or PDFs of all three volumes available through the Bavarian Regional Library’s Digital Archive). The book never gained prominence and faded into obscurity, where it languished for a century and a half until being uncovered in a locked archive in Regensburg, Germany.

For the past several years, Oberpfalz cultural curator Erika Eichenseer has sifted through Von Schönwerth collected works and uncovered hundreds of fairytales, many of them not seen before in other fairytale collections, as well as local versions of more common stories, such as Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin. Last year Eichenseer published a selection of fairytales from Von Schönwerth’s collection, and English translations are already in the works.

Impatient readers can check out one of the newly discovered fairytales online, The Turnip Princess.
To learn more, follow the link to the Guardian article on the subject.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna Robbins March 12, 2012 at 11:12 AM

I cannot read German. Is there an English pdf. version?

Jesse M March 12, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Hi Anna. Unfortunately, so far as I am aware, there is not an English translation available at this time. However, as noted in the Guardian article I linked to at the end of the post, “a Munich-based English translator, Dan Szabo, has already begun work on stories ranging from a miserly farmer and a money-mill to a turnip princess“, so perhaps we won’t have to wait long to read some of the new fairy tales for ourselves.

Lesley B March 12, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I was hoping this would show up on the blog. New fairy tales! That’s like discovering a new element in chemistry.

decaturmamaof2 March 13, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Yipee! Luckily for me, I am a native German speaker and LOVE fairy tales! Thanks for sharing!

Effie C. March 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Jesse this is great! Thanks for the post.

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