March 8, 2012

The Turnip Princess and Hundreds More Fairy Tales Unearthed in Germany


Move over, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty; the newest fairy tale heroine is none other than the Turnip Princess.

Five hundred previously unknown Bavarian fairy tales — including “The Turnip Princess,” available to read on The Guardian’s website — have been unearthed by cultural curator Erika Eichenseer after being locked away in an archive for over 150 years. The legends, folk tales, and myths in the newly available collection were initially gathered by local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth, about whom Jacob Grimm once said, “Nowhere in the whole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly, and with such a sensitive ear.” Thanks to Schönwerth’s historian’s eye, the stories are preserved without literary embellishment, offering an unedited look at the oral traditions of 19th-century Germany.

In addition to local variations on classics like Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin, Eichenseer uncovered stories that had been lost to time, including the Turnip Princess, cursed to live as an old witch until a prince saves her; as well as a maiden who cuts her way out of a witch’s stomach. Eicsheneer has published some of the works in German, and the Guardian reports that a Munich-based translator is working on English versions of the stories.

Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.