The Art of Book Design: The Swedish Fairy Book

Klara Stroebe, ed. Translated by Frederick Martens. Illustrations by George W. Hood. The Swedish Fairy Book, New York, Frederick A. Stokes, 1921.

I really enjoyed Pasakas, the Latvian book of fairy tales sent in by rq, so I thought I’d check out some other foreign tales. There are a myriad of Swedish fairy tale books, but this edition caught  my eye. In the preface to the book the author tells us that,

 There has been no attempt to “rewrite” these charming folk-and fairy-tales in the translation. They have been faithfully narrated in the simple, naive manner which their traditional rendering demands.

The tales might be traditional, but the artwork isn’t. The cover art and interior plates are all rendered in soft, flowing watercolors more typical of the art nouveau period than the Medieval period. Enjoy!

“No sooner had he spoken the words than he was lying in the most magnificent room he had ever seen.” – Lasse, my Thrall!

“Then Silverwhite drew his sword with a great sweep and rushed upon the sea-troll” – Silverwhite and Lillwacker

“The pike rose to the surface with the golden keys in his mouth.”— Faithful and Unfaithful

“So heartfelt was her happiness that she forgot everything else in the world.” – The Werewolf

“A shrine adorned with gold and precious stones appeared.” – First Born, First Wed

“The lion turned into a handsome young prince.” – The Lame Dog

“The rich man had to go along hanging to him like a hawser.” – Old Hopgiant

“He saw a girl sitting in the mountain hall, weaving a web of gold.” – The Three Dogs


via: The Literature Network


  1. avalus says

    I agree rq, they are, but I really cant’t stop laughing at the giants expression. I don’t even know why.
    “Urg he’s way to annoying. Here, you can have your rich man back, you better hope he bounces.”
    Old Hopgiant … now I really want to read what it is about.

  2. rq says

    Yeah, I giggled at that, too -- “Help, there’s something stuck to my shoe!”
    And thanks for the link, I’m saving it for later.

  3. rq says

    PS Some of these sound familiar from the titles, which is no surprise, since from 1621 until 1729 or so the north of Latvia was under Swedish rule. I bet there was some cultural back-and-forth.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    Lovely colours, for example the second and the Werewolf. Am I being crazy if I state that the picture with the pike having the gold keys in the mouth is in a style that’s somewhat similar to the paintings by Charly?

    rq @ 5

    I’d imagine that travel and trade between Latvia and Gotland or Swedish East Coast was doable even before that (probably easier than traveling difficult terrain overland) and also, the Low German merchants influenced both Swedes and Latvians.

  5. voyager says

    Avalus and rq
    I apologize for borking the link to the Literature Network.
    I’ve fixed it now and Old Hopgiant and all the other tales can now be read at the link.

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