Saturday, September 24, 2022

Frau Arndt's "Fairy Tales from the German Forests"

Nine years ago, I put on my Daniel Plainview voice and asked why I didn't have a copy of Fairy Tales from the German Forests on my bookshelf. A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to come across a copy, and I didn't even have to swindle the Bandy family to do so.

It's a delightful little hardcover book that measures 4¼ inches by 6⅜ inches and runs 256 pages.

It was published by Everett & Co. of London. There's no publication year, but multiple sources indicate that it was 1913. The front endpapers (see illustration below) indicate it was part of "Everett's Library."

The most information I found about the book's history is from a 2020 blog post on Storytelling for Everyone. There, Kate Farrell explains that Frau Arndt, the listed author, is a pen name for Margaret Heaton, who was likely British (which means she was retelling German folklore as a non-native). She was related to novelist G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), who provided the cover illustration and the single interior illustration (shown below). You can see the initials "G.K.C." on both illustrations, if you look closely.

Story titles include "The Engineer and the Dwarfs," "Kätchen and the Kobold," "The Dragon's Tale" and "The Nixy Lake." Here's the beginning of "The Dragon's Tail":
"I wonder if the girls and boys who read these stories, have heard of the charming and romantic town of Eisenach? I suppose not, for it is a curious fact that few English people visit the place, though very many Americans go there. Americans are well known to have a special interest in old places with historical associations, because they have nothing of the sort in America."

There are some interesting reviews of the book, most from the past few years, on Goodreads. It's praised for its "Old World, ethereal, otherworldly vibe" and for being a book in which one can "get lost in the whimsical world of the fae." Another reviewer notes that the book can be dated by the mentions of electricity, railways and dynamite — and the fact that it was clearly penned before World War I began in 1914. That reviewer notes, "The stories themselves show the author's perspective and prejudices, and a distinctly British tone and superiority in the expressions she chooses. Kings and dragons are generally old and tired, and forest people are working at keeping away from modern influences."

Here are some interior photos of the book.
And here's Osmond Portifoy (aka "Bounds") posing with the little volume. (This photo is from about three weeks ago. She's bigger now.)

No comments:

Post a Comment