Turnip queen

Franz Xaver von Schonwerth collected all these fairytales and in the 2000′s they were discovered in an attic and published. Unlike the Grimm brothers, he did not edit anything. The Grimms deliberately edited the stories to fit middle class tastes – they also were trying to create a national identity with these tales as a touchstone.

Meanwhile von Schonwerth’s goal was documenting the Bavarian oral traditions – which is why he didn’t edit the stories in his notes. And the stories are weird and intense. Some have the classic “beginning middle end + moral” – some are just “here’s stuff that happened….” And some of the endings…you know that story about a weary soldier who performs three tasks and gets to marry the princess? In this book, the soldier is continually rejected by both the king and the princess, so he brings an army to burn down the entire castle with everyone inside. The end.

The other interesting thing is that while the Grimms tales had mostly female protagonists, Von Schonwerth’s have as many boys trying to escape nasty situations as girls. There are boys who cuddle up with frogs to discover that the frogs are princesses, there are boys called “King Goldenhair,” there are brothers fighting, and fathers sending sons out to stop being a burden on the family. In the introduction, Maria Tatar posits that the Grimms, having suffered from being orphans, may have avoided these types of stories. Anyway, if you like fairytales, The Turnip Princess book is worth the read.

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