I decided to write a short piece about H. C. Andersen as a factual recount of major dates and achievements to accompany the Copenhagen pages; it is simply not possible to arrive in Denmark and not hear mention of Andersen. However, I have discovered that writing a dispassionate account of H. C. Andersen is not possible, because fairy tales are special.
Whimsical tails of princesses and giants and faraway lands are what my dreams were made of. They were the vehicle for my learning important life lessons about right and wrong and morality. Fairy stories also taught me about imagination, and about why I would want to read about anything I knew to be untrue or impossible; fiction. Why read Shakespeare or To kill a mockingbird? Because they transport you to a place where real life melts away and you’re left in a world where anything is possible. Like I said, fairytales are special.
Humans are complex creatures, like a Neapolitan Vienetta.. more complex and conflicting than you can imagine. A novel which mirrors this complexity and which conjures up wisdom through introspection about the human condition is something really clever. Something that achieves this through an incredibly simple format is even more magical. Because of their simple structure and (usually) short form, fairy stories speak to our children, our people of tomorrow, and teach them life values.
Hans Christian Andersen lived from 1805-1875 and published a huge selection of pieces in that time. Some of Andersen’s early work include; “The Princess and the Pea”, “The Little Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. ” The Little Mermaid” was the first of Andersens fairytales to receive wide translation and received a review in a London Journal which read;
“This is a book full of life and fancy; a book for grandfathers no less than grandchildren, not a word of which will be skipped by those who have it once in hand.”
If fairytales are the door to another world, what will be behind the next one in your dreams..?