If anything will make me pick up learning German again…

…it will be this:

About a year ago, Erika Eichenseer, a curator at an archive in Regensburg, Germany was looking through the papers of Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, a local historian who was a contemporary of the Grimm Brothers. Eichenseer found 500 new (well, new to us) fairy tales in his papers and has already published a small collection of them called Prinz Roßzwifl (means Prince Scarab Beetle). An English translation is in the works, but no word on when it will be available. Seeing as how Von Schönwerth was described by Jacob Grimm as the only person in Germany that could replace him in his and his brother’s collection work, this is really something to be excited about. One tale, called The Turnip Princess, has already been translated. You can read the original article at The Guardian website here.

And here is The Turnip Princess:

A young prince lost his way in the forest and came to a cave. He passed the night there, and when he awoke there stood next to him an old woman with a bear and a dog. The old witch seemed very beautiful and wished that the prince would stay with her and marry her. He could not endure her, yet could not leave that place.

One day, the bear was alone with him and spoke to the prince: “Pull the rusty nail from the wall, so that I shall be delivered, and place it beneath a turnip in the field, and in this way you shall have a beautiful wife.” The prince seized the nail so strongly that the cave shook and the nail cracked loudly like a clap of thunder. Behind him a bear stood up from the ground like a man, bearded and with a crown on his head.

“Now I shall find a beautiful maiden,” cried the prince and went forth nimbly. He came to a field of turnips and was about to place the nail beneath one of them when there appeared above him a monster, so that he dropped the nail, pricked his finger on a hedge and bled until he fell down senseless. When he awoke he saw that he was elsewhere and that he had long slumbered, for his smooth chin was now frizzy with a blond beard.

He arose and set off across field and forest and searched through every turnip field but nowhere found what he was looking for. Day passed and night, too, and one evening, he sat down on a ridge beneath a bush, a flowering blackthorn with red blossoms on one branch. He broke off the branch, and because there was before him, amongst the other things on the ground, a large, white turnip, he stuck the blackthorn branch into the turnip and fell asleep.

When he awoke on the morrow, the turnip beside him looked like a large, open shell in which lay the nail, and the wall of the turnip resembled a nut-shell, whose kernel seemed to shape his picture. He saw there the little foot, the thin hand, the whole body, even the fine hair so delicately imprinted, just as the most beautiful girl would have.

The prince stood up and began his search, and came at last to the old cave in the forest, but no one was there. He took out the nail and struck it into the wall of the cave, and at once the old woman and the bear were also there. “Tell me, for you know for certain,” snarled the prince fiercely at the old woman, “where have you put the beautiful girl from the parlour?” The old woman giggled to hear this: “You have me, so why do you scorn me?”

The bear nodded, too, and looked for the nail in the wall. “You are honest, to be sure,” said the prince, “but I shall not be the old woman’s fool again.” “Just pull out the nail,” growled the bear. The prince reached for it and pulled it half out, looked about him and saw the bear as already half man, and the odious old woman almost as a beautiful and kind girl. Thereupon he drew out the nail entirely and flew into her arms for she had been delivered from the spell laid upon her and the nail burnt up like fire, and the young bridal pair traveled with his father, the king, to his kingdom.


4 thoughts on “If anything will make me pick up learning German again…

  1. Caine says:

    Might you be able to clue me in as to how I could keep track of the state of the english version?


    • Mary says:

      I don’t know unfortunately! From what I’ve read it seems the translations are still in a very early stage, so it may be a year or longer before they are finally available. But I suppose amazon will have the English versions available once they are translated.


  2. […] Only six pages long, the story is titled “Tallow Candle”. Perhaps not as big as the German trove found earlier this year, but still exciting nonetheless. Will it be added to Andersen’s canon? Will we begin to see […]


  3. […] exactly three years, I wrote about the discovery of a collection of previously unknown fairy tales by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth. At the time, a small collection had been published in German but there was no word on when an […]


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