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Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany

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Anthropomorphic fiction branches from a long tradition of mythic literature. When considering its roots, you may think of Aesop's Fables, or the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. (My pick for most interesting would be Andrew Lang, who "examined the origins of totemism.")

The discovery of 500 previously-lost fairy tales may add their collector, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810-1886), to the list.

Schönwerth collected the folklore of Germany's Bavaria region and the Black Forest, at around the same time as the Brothers Grimm. His work included stories of princes, witches and talking bears. Between 1857 and 1859, he published his three-volume work From the Upper Palatinate - customs and legends, but it included only a small part of his extensive research. It did not earn much attention, and faded from memory until now.

The Guardian credits their rediscovery to Oberpfalz cultural curator Erika Eichenseer, who notes that the fairytales' main purpose:

... was to help young adults on their path to adulthood, showing them that dangers and challenges can be overcome through virtue, prudence and courage.

For the casual non-German reader: "a Munich-based English translator, Dan Szabo, has already begun work on stories ranging from a miserly farmer and a money-mill to a turnip princess." The dedicated can order modern reprintings and a brand new collection, auf Deutsch, from Amazon.de.

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Time for the folklorists to break out the Aarne-Thompson again. I wonder if the new tales will require expansions to the tale type index. :)

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