Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Andersen's Fairy Tales: Reviews

My volume of Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen is a 1945 edition illustrated by
Arthur Szyk.  The book has gorgeous endpapers, 10 full-page color illustrations, and several black and white illustrations.  It is an absolutely lovely edition.  The stories within are a mixture of the very well-known--such as "The Princess & the Pea," "The Ugly Duckling," and "The Snow Queen"--as well as lesser-known stories such as "The Fir Tree," "The Storks," and "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf." 

I believe there may good reason why some of these tales are not so well-known--some of them are barely two pages long and don't have much of a story at all; others are longer and don't have much of a story at all either.  The stories that are good are very, very good.  I remember reading "The Snow Queen" in a different collection of fairy tales when I was very young.  I enjoyed it immensely and I loved the way Gerda's dedication to Kay and her love for him melted his hard heart and broke the Snow Queen's hold over him.  

There is something about reading fairy tales when one is young.  It is so easy to believe that storks and even the necks of wine bottles could talk and have lives like our own.  Birds not only sing for emperors, but they can talk to them too.  Most of the stories are fun or interesting and nearly all of them have a moral.  In fact, I never noticed how very prevalent Christian references and symbolism were in Andersen's tales before.  I'm not sure if the versions I read previously removed those references or if I just missed them.  But it is very obvious that a lot of the "magic" in these stories have to do with faith in the Christian religion.

It was nice to revisit childhood and read some of my favorite tales.  It was a shame that not all of the stories were of equal weight and interest--but a good solid outing, none the less.  Three stars.

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