Many of the fairytales that we’re familiar with, such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel, originated in Germany and were collected by the Brothers Grimm. But Jacob and Wilhelm weren’t the only German story-gatherers in the early 19th century. Fellow folklorist Franz Xaver Schönwerth also collected fables, from the Oberpfalz region of Bavaria. Three years ago, a mere 150 years later, five hundred of them were rediscovered in an archive in Regensberg, Germany. These tales are only now coming to light in the English-speaking world.
According to the Guardian, Oberpfalz cultural curator Erika Eichenseer
found 500 fairytales, many of which do not appear in other European fairytale collections. For example, there is the tale of a maiden who escapes a witch by transforming herself into a pond. The witch then lies on her stomach and drinks all the water, swallowing the young girl, who uses a knife to cut her way out of the witch. However, the collection also includes local versions of the tales children all over the world have grown up with including Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin, and which appear in many different versions across Europe.
Different versions of Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin? Perhaps they were less violent: as many of us know, the Grimm versions were positively grisly.
Eichenseer published a German edition of the fairytales, and the stories are currently being translated into English by translator Dan Szabo; the Guardian has provided one of the stories for us: “The Turnip Princess.” No word when a complete English language edition will appear.
But I can only guess that Disney–whose 1950 version of Cinderella is a staple in many households with young children–will be among the first to buy it.
(Thanks to David Hartwell.)