Fairy Tales and Stories
by Hans Christian Andersen,
translated with an introduction by Reginald Spink.
Illustrations by the author.
Everyman’s Library No 4, 1960.
“My aim was to be the writer for all ages; the naīve was only one element of the fairy tales, and humour was the salt in them.”Introduction, vii
Hans Christian Andersen wrote more than 150 fairytales and short stories, several of which are not only familiar but well-loved around the world. ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘The Ugly Duckling,’ ‘Thumbelina,’ ‘The Princess on the Pea,’ ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier’, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, ‘The Little Match Girl’ – the mere mention of the titles is often enough to evoke the entirety of each tale in our minds.
It’s sometimes easy to forget they’re not entirely traditional tales because they were penned and published by an eccentric Danish writer two centuries ago; and yet they’ve achieved traditional status partly because Andersen based many of them on the stories he’d heard growing up, or written highly individual variations on tales he’d read from The Arabian Nights and the collections by the Brothers Grimm.
Yet, apart from the often repeated stories, whether retold straight or adapted in various media, there are a host of his other whimsical, even melancholy, narratives which remain generally unknown or ignored, pieces which deserve seeking out to be enjoyed, or at least turned over in the mind. As a whole it’s a collection I personally have found worth keeping by the bed to dip into.Continue reading “Humour is the salt”