Here’s your weekly German media recommendation from Monoglot Anxiety. And one day late. Whoops! This time, it’s the famous 19th century German children’s book der Struwwelpeter.
Written in 1845 by Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann, der Struwwelpeter is a collection of short stories about children, written in rhyming verse and accompanied by colorful illustrations. A bit like fairy tales, each story teaches a clear moral by showing the horrendous—and often highly exaggerated—consequences of bad behavior. Most of the children in der Struwwelpeter don’t make it to the end of their story alive… you’ve been warned!
Because the book is so old, it is now in the public domain and you can read it for free online. I prefer this copy with colored illustrations and clear, easy-to-read text—Some scans preserve the original gothic script of the stories, which is beautiful but very hard to read.
Despite its gruesome and at times painfully outdated morality, der Struwwelpeter is still a popular children’s book. My boyfriend and his siblings all read it as kids, and most of their friends in Austria did as well. It definitely has a place in the common cultural consciousness of German-speaking countries, and the book has been translated into other languages as well—Mark Twain, who famously wrote an entire essay complaining about the German language, wrote his own translation called “Slovenly Peter” in 1891. If you’re interested in reading a bit more about der Struwwelpeter, you can check out this short article from DW.
That’s all for this week. Until next Friday…hopefully I’m on time this week!
Elise from Monoglot Anxiety