REVIEW: “The Realm of Wishes” by Louise Brachmann

Review of Louise Brachmann, Eve Mason, trans., “The Realm of Wishes”, in A String of Pearls: A Collection of Five German Fairy Tales by Women (2020): 35-41 — Order here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

This was the most traditional of all the tales: Edwy, a destitute fisherman catches a fantastical fish — “golden and azure and crimson” (p. 35) — whom he intends to sell for a great price. But the fish speaks and promises to grant him endless wishes instead, if only he’ll throw her back. Edwy follows all the standard tropes, requesting ever bigger and grander wishes until he finally asks for something that cannot be granted, and all his wishes are reversed and he ends up back where he started, in his poor fisher hut. Unlike some versions of this story, though, there is no happy resolution, no moral; he is just as discontented then as he was to start with.

(Originally published in German in 1813.)