More on Schönwerth’s fairy tales

Our own culture, under the spell of Grimm and Perrault, has favored fairy tales starring girls rather than boys, princesses rather than princes. But Schönwerth’s stories show us that once upon a time, Cinderfellas evidently suffered right alongside Cinderellas, and handsome young men fell into slumbers nearly as deep as Briar Rose’s hundred-year nap. Just as girls became domestic drudges and suffered under the curse of evil mothers and stepmothers, boys, too, served out terms as gardeners and servants, sometimes banished into the woods by hostile fathers. Like Snow White, they had to plead with a hunter for their lives. And they are as good as they are beautiful—Schönwerth uses the German term “schön,” or beautiful, for both male and female protagonists.

Next week, I’ll add my translation from one of the tales in Prinz Rosszwifl.

5 thoughts on “More on Schönwerth’s fairy tales

  1. Dear Mrs.Tatar,
    Thank you for this information! I read with great interest and excitement your article. I am so thrilled about those old and forgotten on purpose or not fairy tales. This is a real treasure! I suppose that it’s a great excitement to read them for the first time and discover new worlds, page by page, step by step…
    I learned about the tales from SurLalune Fairy Tales Blog and wrote a short post in my blog, wanting to share the news with more people. Now I’ll update it…
    Best wishes from Bulgaria!:)

  2. ms. tatar,

    can this illustration really be from 1812, as the credit in the new yorker article says?

    peter desmond

  3. I wrote to the New Yorker a few days ago and alerted them to the fact that the date for the Crane illustration is incorrect, but they have not yet fixed it. I also sent them a copy of the full illustration (the one online is cropped), and they were going to post that as well. Sigh. As you probably know, I just provide the words. Good catch.

  4. I am looking forward to reading these in German. I find that tales written by people who had other “day jobs” such as the Brothers Grimm are often more interesting than those who would just write for children. Dodgeson, Lewis and Tolkien were Oxford dons who wrote about fantastic places.

    A Russian lawyer named Afanasyev also compiled tales. These are known for English speakers more in music than in print. Baba Yaga, The Firebird and Seryy Volk (my web name)are examples.

    Being able to see tales in colloquial as well as more literary forms is wonderful.
    Even with Grimm, it is nice to see such things as the teller of the tale Brüderchen und Schwesterchen using pronouns er and sie for the children instead or the supposedly grammatical “es.”

    Thank you for your work.


    Jim (SeryyVolk)

Comments are closed.