Till Eulenspiegel is the name of a young boy in a fairy tale written in 1511. We don’t know if he really existed, but in the legend, he was born in a small German village and became a known trickster: someone who played practical jokes on the people in his village. The adults in the village did not like his jokes and when things went too far, Till was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death.
Pretty gruesome, especially if you think this story was meant for children.
But we need to remember in which context these stories were told: fairy tales were often about dwarves, elves, fairies, giants, mermaids, or witches.
Their inherent violent component was meant to teach children the difference between right and wrong and the importance of consequences for bad behavior or bad people.
Richard Strauss engraved by Ferdinand Schmutzer (1922)
Sure you’ve heard of the most famous collectors of these fairy tales: the Brothers Grimm.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected and published hundreds of such stories including
Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, and Little Tom Thumb, who appearss, for example, in Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite.
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Till the Don Juan
Till shakes off the death premonition and goes on on another adventure.
He transforms into a Don Juan, exchanging pleasantries with the girls.