Sunday, October 19, 2008


Purchase from Barnes & Noble
Merry Stories and Funny Pictures

(Fearful Stories & Vile Pictures To Instruct Good Little Folks)

Der Struwwelpeter (1845) is a popular German children's book by Heinrich Hoffmann which has been translated into English. It comprises ten illustrated and rhymed stories, mostly about children. Each has a clear moral that demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehavior in an exaggerated way. The title of the first story provides the title of the whole book. Literally translated, Struwwel-Peter means Shaggy-Peter.

Project Gutenberg has published an online eBook of Struwwelpeter with the author's original artwork.

In 1999 Feral House published a 15-story version of the book with illustrations by Sarita Vendetta. The prominent notice on the back cover, warning that this one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old children's book as presently conceived is not for children, is truly on the mark; Vendetta's sensual, erotic, deeply disturbing art is nightmarish.

Stories in the original version (with a couple of Vendetta illustrations from the Feral House version):

"Struwwelpeter" (Shaggy Peter) describes a boy who does not groom himself properly and is consequently unpopular.

In "Die Geschichte vom bösen Friederich" (The Story of Cruel Frederick), a violent boy terrorizes animals and people. Eventually he is bitten by a dog, who goes on to eat the boy's sausages while he is bedridden.

In "Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug" (The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches), a girl plays with matches and burns to death.

In "Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben" (The Story of the Inky Boys), Nikolas (that is, Saint Nicholas) catches three boys teasing a dark-skinned boy. To teach them a lesson, he dips the three boys in black ink, to make them even darker-skinned than the boy they'd teased.

"Die Geschichte von dem wilden Jäger" (The Story of the Wild Huntsman) is the only story not primarily focused on children. In it, a rabbit steals a hunter's rifle and eyeglasses and begins to hunt the hunter. In the ensuing chaos the rabbit's child is burned by hot coffee.

In "Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher" (The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she goes out of the house he resumes his thumb sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.

"Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar" (The Story of Kaspar who did not have any Soup) begins as Kaspar, a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.

In "Die Geschichte vom Zappel-Philipp" (The Story of Fidgety Philip), a boy who won't sit still at dinner accidentally knocks all of the food onto the floor, to his parents' great displeasure.

"Die Geschichte von Hans Guck-in-die-Luft" (The Story of Hans Look-in-the-Air) concerns a boy who habitually fails to watch where he's walking. One day he walks into a river; he is soon rescued, but his portfolio drifts away.

In "Die Geschichte vom fliegenden Robert" (The Story of Flying Robert), a boy goes outside during a storm. The wind catches his umbrella and sends him to places unknown, and presumably to his doom.

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