New Delhi: As many as 500 fairytales have been discovered in Regensburg, Germany which were locked up in an archive for almost 150 years.
The tales were part of a huge collection gathered by local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810-1886).
The stories were collected around the same time when the Grimm brothers were collecting the fairytales that have since then become popular stories for children around the world.
Even though last year some of Schönwerth’s tales were published, this probably is the first time that so many fables and tales have been unlocked.
Von Schönwerth spent decades asking country folk, labourers and servants about local habits, traditions, customs and history, and putting down on paper which were merely passed on by word of mouth till then. In 1885, Jacob Grimm spoke about Schönwerth and said, "Nowhere in the whole of Germany is anyone collecting [folklore] so accurately, thoroughly and with such a sensitive ear."
Incidentally, Von Schönwerth compiled his research into a book called ‘Aus der Oberpfalz – Sitten und Sagen’, which came out in three volumes but due to lack of interest and readers faded into obscurity.
While sifting through Von Schönwerth`s work, cultural curator Erika Eichenseer found 500 fairytales, many of which do not appear in other European fairytale collections.
Unlike the Grimm brothers, who added their own bit in the local fables, Von Schönwerth recorded what he heard faithfully and did not add any gloss on it.
While the tales that have been discovered are in German language, Erica is keen to get them translated in English for a wider audience.
First Published: Saturday, March 10, 2012, 15:13