I only know the German version, but if the translation is at all faithful, it should be a hilarious book of morals for those who are not squeamish! This book is in the old style of "scare 'em out of doing it" didactic tales and details the traumas that ensue when youngsters fail to follow the wise instructions of their elders. From the boy who wouldn't eat his soup and shrivelled away to the tot who wouldn't stop sucking his thumb until a pair of scissors had something to say to him, these twisted poems are the perfect antidote to today's politically "correct" and sugar-coated moral works for children
This edition is definitely NOT for children--the gruesome pictures in the beginning are wonderfully drawn, but would probably disturb young children. Having said that, this is a great book. Dr. Zipes' introduction, which adds immense value, discusses the intended use of this book as an instructor of morality and how 150 years of middle-class Euro-American families have used different approaches to teach socially "correct" behavior to their children.At the end of the introduction is part of a review left on Amazon in 1997 by a reader of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (a book compared by some to "Struwwelpeter"). The reviewer attacked the book as glorifying the murder and debasement of children, and even talked about being unable to eat any blue-colored foods for years as a result of trauma caused by the blueberry scene. I think this reader, like many readers of "Struwwelpeter", has kind of missed the point. This book is not about being cruel to children. It's about warning children that if they are horrid, horrid things will happen to them. If you play with matches even though mother tells you not to, you'll get burnt up. If you're dirty and smelly, no one will like you. The bluntness of the consequences of bad behavior just serves to ram the message home. I found it fascinating that the author originally wrote this for his THREE-year-old son, when he decided that all the available books on correct behavior were either too didactic or too sentimental. This is hardly the 19th century equivalent of a slasher film, with blood and guts randomly strewn about--all the bad things in this book could have been avoided, if only the victims would have listened to people who were wiser than them. Whether or not you agree with the social message, it's still a fascinating read.
This is an excellent read. In reference to the advice of most readers of Struwwelpeter to NOT let children read this book, I would like to quote Terry Pratchet: "...it was much earlier than that when most people forgot that the very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood. Later on they tookt he blood out to make the stories more acceptable to children, or at least to the people who read them to children rather than the children themselves (who, on the whole, are quite keen on blood provided it's being shed by the deserving. That is to say, those who deserve to shed blood. Or possibly not. You never quite know with some kids.)" As an educator and once-child, I would reccommend this book to children over the age of 10. Of course this reading experience, like any, should involve a discussion with the parents so they can understand the differences between being a child of the Victorian era and being a child now. Give kids credit!!
Feral House, the Loompanics of history/art publishers, here publishes a title that is destined to become a rare collectible. In this paperback edition, you will find more than just the reproduced works of author Heinrich Hoffmann. This is perhaps the only opportunity so far for collectors to purchase prints of the work of reclusive artist Sarita Vendetta.
The only other printed examples of her work are contained in "Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs," another Feral House publication which is now out of print. That book had only a few of her drawings, while Struwwelpeter contains dozens.
Vendetta's disturbing and shocking artwork will always provoke controversy, dealing as it does with issues of sexual deviance, child abuse, and religious mania. For collectors of the insane and macabre, this book is a must-have. I would recommend two copies: one for your bookshelf and one to extract the art for framing.
The quality of the prints (color, size, paper) is quite good considering the cost of this book. The prints include drawings which appear to be out of our present time, and the paintings are revoltingly representational, colorful, and graphic.
Besides purchasing her original art directly from La Luz de Jesus Gallery in California, there is no other way to collect the works of this elusive American artist. Only fools and villians (of which there are many) would view Vendetta's work and not see the inherent social criticism in her depictions of evil.
I will leave the text for others to review. But I want to also mention that the other historical illustrations contained in this book are charming and add to the value of this unusual publication.