Monday, March 22, 2010


Der Struwwelpeter (1845) is a German children's book by Heinrich Hoffmann, a psychiatrist who wrote and illustrated the stories for his son. Each of the ten stories is a cautionary tale that warns the consequence of misbehavior. The title refers to the first story of 'Shaggy Peter', who is careless about grooming himself. His hair and nails grow so long and dirty, he is put on display in a sideshow. Shaggy Peter is seen in the center of the pictured antique handkerchiefs, with other stories and their characters around him. Mark Twain provided an English translation in 1935, titled Slovenly Peter.

In "Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher" (The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. When she leaves the house, the thumb sucking resumes, until a mysterious tailor appears with enormous shears and cuts the boys thumbs off, snip, snip!

"Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar" (The Story of Kaspar who did not have any Soup) depicts Kaspar, a healthy, strong boy before he refuses to eat his soup. Over the next few days he wastes away and dies; a soup tureen placed by his grave marker is more poignant than any wreath of flowers.

In "Die Geschichte vom bösen Friederich" (The Story of Cruel Frederick), a wicked boy torments animals and people. He attacks a dog, that bites him in response. The dog is pictured eating sausages while Frederick recuperates.

"Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben" (The Story of the Black Boys), Saint Nikolas 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.

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