In Latin * English * German
By Heinrich Hoffmann, Peter Wiesmann (Latin), Ann E Wild (New English)
You'd REALLY better watch out: cautionary tales that will curl your hair, too: in Latin, German, English
Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann's Der Struwwelpeter, the best known German children's book, was first published in Frankfurt in 1845. "Shock-Headed Peter" or "Slovenly Peter" (as it is mostly known in English speaking countries) has conquered the children's book market of the world not only with dozens of translations but also literally hundreds of imitations, adaptations, take-offs and parodies. These "merry stories and funny pictures for children between 3 and 6 years," as Dr. Hoffmann termed them, are cautionary tales, by turns macabre, touching, and wickedly funny. Where else does every recalcitrant child or cruel adult get his or her "deserts," and that within a few pages?
- Stylistically elegant, rhyming Latin translation that is accessible to the non-scholarly reader
- Facing page original German text and popular English translation
- Hoffmann's original illustrations, plus detailed enlargements of them
- Appendix with new, never before published contemporary English translation, Scruffypete, by Ann Elizabeth Wild
- Afterword by Walter Sauer, on the history of the work and its Latin translations
- Select Latin-English glossary
Heinrich Hoffmann (18091894) was a German physician and writer, best known for Der Struwwelpeter (1845), which he wrote in response to being unable to find any suitable books for his sons Christmas present.
Comments and Reviews
Reprint of 1845 German children's book is 'morbidly fascinating'
"Der Struwwelpeter" was originally written in German in the 19th century. Its intended audience was 3- to 6-year-old children. It is not likely that many parents would want to snuggle up at story time and read the verse in this book to their youngsters.
Harriet, the girl who plays with matches, catches herself on fire and is reduced to a pile of ashes. Phillip, who can't sit still at supper, ends up breaking everything as it is pulled off the table. Perhaps the title character, Shock-Headed Peter, might not be upsetting "with his nasty hair and hands."
"The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb" is very graphic verse. Conrad's mother warns him that if he doesn't stop sucking his thumbs, a tailor will come with sharp scissors and cut his thumbs off.
Conrad disobeys his mother and sure enough suffers the threatened consequences! Illustrations accompany the verse, and if per chance the child didn't realize what had transpired, the pictures leave nothing to the imagination, as the tailor enters the scene with large shears and removes Conrad's thumbs!
The afterword by Walter Sauer gives a brief history of this book. It was originally published in 1845 in Frankfurt, Germany. It became very popular and was soon translated into English. By 1849, an American translation was available. Currently it has been translated into dozens of languages.
The Latin versions have not been directed to the juvenile market. Their intent has been "a tongue-in-cheek philological exercise ...their didactic purpose limits itself to the teaching and enjoyment of Latin."
The book has a new English translation by Ann E. Wild. It does not have the impact of the earlier version. The new translation, calls him "Scruffypete" and states, "from his hand he trails ten lengthy fingernails." The earlier edition is, "See! his nails are never cut; They are grimed as black as soot."
Not being conversant in German or Latin, I am not able to analyze the verse in those languages. There is a Latin-English glossary at the end of the book.
From a historical point of view, this is a morbidly fascinating little book.
Lebanon Daily Record April 27, 2003
Cautionary Tales for Wicked Little Children
When Heinrich Hoffman (1809-1894) couldn't find an appropriate book for his son at Christmas, he wrote Der Struwwelpeter. Shock Headed Peter, or Slovenly Peter as it is commonly translated in English, is a small book of cautionary tales originally intended for children between the ages of three and six. It has been translated into almost one hundred different languages and dialects.
While psychologists today might frown on reading stories about naughty children that burn to death to pre-schoolers, I myself was delighted by them. This version has the English, Latin, and German translations, and has a Latin to English glossary, in the back. Beautifully illustrated throughout the book are rhymes about Scruffy Pete, Wicked Frederick, murderous rabbits, greek-chorus kittens, and (my favorite) the tall tailor that visits little suck-a- thumbs. This would make a wonderful present for evil nephews or your Goth little sister.
It and more Latin translations are available through Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers @ www.bolchazy.com.
"But Harriet would not take advice: She lit a match, it was so nice! It crackled so, it burned so clear- Exactly like the picture here. She jumped for joy and ran about
Little Rock Free Press, April 1-30, 2003
Mike Myers was in a "Saturday Night Live" sketch about scary German children's tales. I recall the children cowering in a meat locker as a racy maid and furry monster dashed about.
I thought that could be an exaggeration, but along comes "Shock-Headed Peter" (www.bolchazy.com) with his "nails never cut" and "nasty hair." Then there was Harriet, who played with matches, though the cats tried to warn her, and was reduced to a pile of ashes and two red shoes. What child would like to hear "The Story of Cruel Frederick," who killed the birds and broke the chairs and threw the kitten down the stairs?"
The characters from Lemony Snicket, Edward Gorey, Roald Dahl and Charles Dickens meet their match in Heinrich Hoffmann's "Shock-Headed Peter," the back reads. There is also a warning that the tales therein are "not for the delicately inclined."
Port Arthur News
January 18, 2004