The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales

The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales (Penguin Classics) - Franz Xaver von Schonwerth, Erika Eichenseer, Engelbert Suss, Maria Tatar

Thank you to Penguin Group for providing me with an egallery copy of the book to review.

 

I loved the Grimm fairytales since I was a kid. Safe to say I even grew up on them. Fairytales have always held a special spot in my life when it comes to reading and even now that I’m a teenager I still can safely say I’ll never get too old for fairytales. The Germans are, safe to say, well known for their dark tales. Coming across “The Turnip Princess” created an instant spark of interest – new fairy tales that have been found after being hidden for so long? Yes please!

 

However the initial fascination quickly turned into a long of head scratching and sighing, and here’s where it becomes problematic to critique. From an editorial point of view I think that book was put together wonderfully – the introduction was informative and the notes at the end of the book were very detailed about each story, giving interesting context and background information that, to a curious reader, is invaluable. From this angle the book is wonderful. What was disappointing was the content, the stories themselves.

 

Perhaps if I go and reread The Brothers Grimm now I will have the same reaction so I cannot say with too much certainty, yet I found the stories boring. Several of them were ones I already knew, like the one about the brave tailor who thought he killed seven flies in one swing, or the one about the girl who got magic acorns from which she received a dress and shoes. These are stories I know of from other European, both Germanic and Slavic, cultures, so to find them in the book gave a reaction in the form of a disappointing “Oh”. The stories are simple and not very gory from what I’d say. You do have some of your standard things like chopping off a finger but to those who are familiar with other fairy tales this shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

 

Perhaps it’s the fact that I have read so many fairy tales that it has begun to feel repetitive for me – I’ll accept that. For readers who have a much fresher start in the fairy tale department this might be more enjoyable, but after finishing the book I couldn’t quite understand what the big deal was when these were found. They don’t offer too much to the already broad world of stories, most not only regurgitating the same themes but also using the same details and approaches to do so. This book, then, is for the more patient reader, one who doesn’t mind reading over many of the same details and messages over again, although these ones are much more abrupt and rather rough in their storytelling method, with rough transitions and lacking even that “fairy tale” quality to them. Someone will appreciate these stories, and I understand them. This is a big part of history that, to those who understand the value and love it, will find this an invaluable addition to their literary traverse. For me this was a quick, leisurely read that will quickly prove itself forgetful.