Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reading of King Nutcracker in the Special Collections Library

On Sunday afternoon, December 2, at 4:00 p.m., The Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library, will host a reading in world languages of two popular children’s books by the 19th-century German author Heinrich Hoffmann.  Bettina Brandt, Senior Lecturer in German at Penn State, and her young daughter, Vera Purdy, will be joined by a number of native speakers of German, Dutch, Turkish, Italian, French, Spanish, and more – including English!—in reading Hoffmann’s Struwwelpeter, a book that has delighted children on both sides of the Atlantic since 1845, and his second book, King Nutcracker and poor Reinhold.

The story of Nutcracker traveled a long path before it became the most well-known secular Christmas tale.  Heinrich Hoffmann, the author most famous for his wild Struwwelpeter, helped popularize the story with his colorful 1851 picture book, King Nutcracker and poor Reinhold.   Daniel Purdy, Professor of German, will introduce the program and speak briefly about how the Nutcracker helped define Christmas celebrations as we know them today.

A reception with light refreshments will follow the readings.  Children are welcome!

The event will conclude with a repeat screening (with new material added for the occasion) in the Mann Assembly Room of a video produced by Berlin videographers Alexander Kraudelt and Victoria Magali Herzog, featuring songs by the Tiger Lillies, a British trio often described as the forefathers of Brechtian Punk Cabaret. The entertaining video features Frau Marion Herzog-Hoinkis, whose late husband, Gerhard Hertz Herzog, was director of the Struwwelpeter Museum in Frankfurt am Main, talking about the history and influence of the boy Slovenly Peter, or Shockheaded Peter, as he is known in English. She will also reveal Hoffmann’s inspiration for his imaginative dream tale of King Nutcracker. In his autobiography, Hoffmann wrote, “I had the idea that children love stories out of a secret, magic world, and I wanted to create a fairytale among their usual toys.”

The reading will be held in conjunction with the exhibition “Heinrich Hoffmann’s Stories for Children and the Emergence of the Modern Picture Book,” on display in The Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library, through January 25, 2013.

The event is co-sponsored by the University Libraries, the Department of German and Slavic Languages and Literature, and the Max Kade German-American Research Institute.  For more information, contact Sandra Stelts at or 814-863-5388.

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