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The remarkable thing is that this definitive version of his autobiography, written at the height of his writing career, is the one that betrays the greatest human insecurity. It is one long self-defence, a demonstration with testimonial after testimonial of his abilities and merits. The result is a human document, but a less satisfying book. And why should this be? Because Andersen intended it for his Danish public, where it was only a few years before the publication of Mit Livs Eventyr that the critics had begun to acknowledge him with fewer reservations, in a manner in keeping with the reception he had been given abroad.

Andersen jibes at this petty criticism in several of his fairy tales and stories, from "The Ugly Duckling"- the ducks in the duckyard and the cat at the old woman's house- and "The Fir Tree"- the rats who do not think much of the fir tree's stories- to "The Gardener and the Fine Family"- in which the family is filled with enthusiasm for everything coming from abroad, but fails to see the value in what their own humble gardener Larsen produces; people from outside have to tell them before they will believe it. The later Danish critic Georg Brandes, who was known throughout Europe, published a major article on Andersen's work in , at the same time writing in a private letter to him that he was the Danish writer who had most seriously undermined the respectability of the critics.

Brandes wrote this with a view to the many occasions on which Andersen had ridiculed petty and uncomprehending criticism. However, as said above, there was good reason for Andersen's many attacks on his critics. This was another of the paradoxes in his life: he was feted abroad, yet often treated condescendingly at home, where other "major writers", who are more or less forgotten today, were being celebrated. And this was not only a paradox, but also one of the many unhealed wounds which he received on his sudden rise from the bottom of society to fame.

This fame, resulting especially from the fairy tales, is in itself also one of the great paradoxes in his oeuvre. For what was it he became famous for? For being a children's writer, something which he had most decidedly not wanted to be- at least not at the expense of his real mission of being a writer on an equal footing with other writers, a writer for adults. But as he fashioned it in a completely original manner with a mixture of fantasy and down-to-earth realism, it quickly became obvious to him that this modest genre gave him a freedom to say things that he would not have been able to say in the same way in genres addressed exclusively to adult readers.

And it was thus also clear to him that his fairy tales were at least as much for adults as for children. Much later, he argued in what he called his "Comments" on the fairy tales and stories, that children understood the trappings in them, whereas the more profound ideas were for the adults. A world-famous fairy tale like "The Little Mermaid" first saw light in a collection of these Fairy Tales Told for Children , but from end to end it is a literary fairy tale about the urge for immortality, for God, that lies hidden in nature, awakens in human beings and continues its spiritual journey beyond the boundary called death.

A story for children? Both yes and no. Certainly not if we are to believe the Disney version that has transformed the story entirely and turned it into a "proper" fairy tale about the mermaid who longs so much to have a part in the human world and ends by getting her prince. There is plenty of scope for tragedy in Andersen e.

The rare quality in Andersen- and one that is easily misunderstood- is then that he speaks to adults through a mask of childishness, and that he tells children about experiences that rightly belong in the world of the grown-up. We can perhaps better understand this duality if we know that Andersen had actually never expected to make a name for himself as the writer of fairy tales.

He wanted to be a novelist, and dramatist. The novels he wrote- six in all- were a success, not least abroad. It was such that even as late as , when he had long been famous as a writer of fairy tales, he met some Americans in Munich who could tell him that his novels could be bought on any railway station in America. Today, his novels are mainly of historical interest, but we must remember that he was the first Danish author to write contemporary novels.

Here, as in many other respects, he was at the forefront of his time, a modern spirit, an author conscious of his time. He had his heart in drama throughout his life, and he wrote a great number of plays and ballad operas and a few opera libretti. He experienced a number of fiascos, but also a few major successes in the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, and later he experienced a number of huge successes in the popular theatre, the Casino, and these continued long after his death.

Andersen was wildly enthusiastic about the theatre, but he really only managed to transform his theatrical ambitions into great art when he created his fairy tale form, for with their lively scenic and spoken quality the fairy tales are a kind of prose drama. They were something never seen before, transgressing all the norms for writing good prose and introducing the style of modern prose into Danish literature.

Scandinavia and Finland: A Digital Library of Folklore, Folktales, and Fairy Tales

Learn More His drama has been forgotten, but not his travel accounts. He went on altogether thirty journeys abroad, some short, some long, which took him far and wide in Europe, to Constantinople, Spain, Portugal, twice to England, several times to Italy, and so on and so on.

See Map Some of these journeys gave rise to travel accounts, colourful, poetical portrayals of a writer's encounter with the Europe of his day. On his early journeys he drew what he saw. He had a certain talent for that, too, just as he was phenomenally gifted in cutting out fantastic paper cuts, making collages, etc.

This visual skill is something we come across again in the fairy tales and novels. One of his friends, the physicist H. Andersen's prose is amazingly visual, and he also worked consciously to apply a painterly technique to his descriptions- something he probably picked up from his Danish and foreign painter friends. No wonder, then, that so many artists, Danish and non-Danish, have been eager to turn to Andersen's fairy tales and illustrate them. They simply cry out for it. Andersen was also a poet, and it is a matter of simple fact that many of his poems provide the texts for songs that are among the most loved and widely sung in Danish to this day.

They are sung in schools and at all kinds of gatherings and are known by all and sundry. So today there is a Danish Andersen and an Andersen known to the world outside Denmark. In Denmark, having entered the cultural life of his day as a social outsider, a man and an author whom people long found it difficult to accept properly, he has become the national writer above all others. His humour and irony are felt by the Danes to be very Danish and almost untranslatable, and they know perfectly well that they are really the only ones to know Andersen, his problems, his enormous range and his subtle humour.

And yet there is an Andersen outside Denmark, even an Andersen in fundamentally different cultures such as those of Russia, China, Japan, Vietnam or, for that matter, Brazil. Perhaps the very most striking difference between the Danish and the non-Danish Andersen is to be found in the fact that in Denmark the focus has constantly been on Hans Christian Andersen the man, ably helped of course by his autobiographies, but also by later comprehensive editions of his letters and, in recent years, of his diaries from to his death and notebooks.

Hardcover , pages. Published January by Gramercy Books first published May 8th More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Complete Fairy Tales , please sign up. Were can i find this book? Thank you. Wendy I have seen copies at used book stores.

But look closely before buying, I have seen abridged or edited versions more often than the complete works. See all 3 questions about The Complete Fairy Tales…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Andersen, 2 April — 4 August was a Danish author. View 2 comments. Sep 05, James rated it really liked it Shelves: 4-written-preth-century , 2-fic-young-adult , 1-fiction. Many people are familiar with the fairy tales written by the Grimm brothers, but sometimes don't realize there were several different versions or collections by different authors.

Another popular one is the series written by Hans Christian Anderson. Also, they don't always end up a positive note. A few movies have been made from them, and countless cartoons and TV shows. I enjoyed some of them, but not all of them.

Hans Christian Andersen

I do think they are worth a read, as they provide some insight into the goings-on of a working mind nearly years ago. It's true-to-form stories that have a basis in moral lessons versus coming-of-age sentiments. Both are valuable, but they are a bit different. Not quite for young children, probably better for pre-teens or teenagers. About Me For those new to me or my reviews I write A LOT. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Not a fan of Hans Christian Anderson at all. Most of his stories were short and pointless and the ones with morals made me feel like I was being preached to.

I just can't get with the religious tone of his stories or the weird way women are treated like the little mermaid sacrificing herself off the boat, or the prince who tries to court the emperor's daughter but she rejects him so he pretends to be a swine herder and tricks her into getting disowned with him for kissing him and then basically Not a fan of Hans Christian Anderson at all. I just can't get with the religious tone of his stories or the weird way women are treated like the little mermaid sacrificing herself off the boat, or the prince who tries to court the emperor's daughter but she rejects him so he pretends to be a swine herder and tricks her into getting disowned with him for kissing him and then basically leaves her homeless because that's what she deserves for rejecting an honest prince, or when the guy who journey's with the other guy beats the princess while following her and she thinks its a hail storm.

I could go on and on. I literally did not get anything constructive from reading any of the stories and only finished reading the book because I have this compulsive need to finish a book once I start it. View all 8 comments. A powerful and beautiful book that I will undoubtedly keep at hand and that made me want to better know Andersen by his autobiography and plunge also in the Tales of Grimm.

View all 12 comments. Oct 11, Michael Finocchiaro rated it it was amazing Shelves: kids , classics , fiction. If you want to read the real stories that inspired the lion's share of Disney films, definitely read Mr. Andersen's collection of fairy tales. Instead imagine families trying to scare their kids into behaving in order to survive the many dangers in this world - represented fantastically by witches and wolves and other beasties and meanies. A wonderful collection! Although some of the tales are really disturbing, the fantasy and imagination behind them is indisputable.

I grew up reading this book and I'm sure it'll be valuable for all future generations. Hans Christian Andersen once said, "Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale. In all Hans Christian Andersen wrote fairy tales, of which forty are in this luxury, large format edition, to represent the cream of the crop. It is a beautiful, sumptuous book, the semi-matt purple cover slightly textured and embossed, giving almost a "padded" feel. It has a feature reminiscent of medallions in old books; in this case an inset Hans Christian Andersen once said, "Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.

It has a feature reminiscent of medallions in old books; in this case an inset glossy illustration of a mermaid. The paper throughout is glossy, and most pages are bordered with patterns and old gold surrounds. Three gold colours are used; the spine is a slightly brighter gold, and the page edges are shiny and gilt-edged, plus there is a gold ribbon bookmark attached. There is an interesting introduction by the translator, Neil Philip, plus copious, carefully drawn illustrations by Isabelle Brent. These are mostly in gouache, and the illustrator makes much use of jewel colours, patterning and many magnificent gold highlights.

It is a book which simply begs to be picked up. The choice of purple and gold is perhaps significant, since it is clear that Hans Christian Andersen believed himself to be a member of the royal family. Not only that, but he tortured himself with the belief that he was unacknowledged royalty, who had been cast out, and this conviction plagued him all his life.

Interestingly, although there will probably never be any proof of Hans Christian Andersen's true birth, it is not simply an idle dream, but a genuine possibility. He was born in at Broholm Castle near Odense. Both Hans Christian Andersen's official parents worked at the castle, his "mother" as a nursemaid, and his "father", a cobbler for the family. There had also been a precedent for an illegitimate daughter Fanny to have been adopted by another servant of the Royal family a year earlier. Hans Christian Andersen seems to have had a privileged position with this family.

Rather than play with the other poor children, he was allowed to play with Prince Christian Frederik's son, Prince Fritz, who was three years younger than him. When this prince later died, Hans Christian Andersen was the only person, not in the family, who was allowed to view the body privately. When he was seven years of age, Hans Christian Andersen's official father was paid to serve in the Napoleonic wars, in place of a local landowner. He returned four years later, a broken man, and died in the Spring. Hans's mother was now destitute, with few choices as she was illiterate, so she took in washing, standing waist deep for hours in the icy river, trying to stay warm by taking nips of schnapps.

Two years later she married another shoemaker, who took no interest in the young Hans. Hence Hans Christian Andersen grew up in heartbreaking poverty, and all his life remained self-conscious about his lower class background, despite his success. Perhaps it is because he was born poor that he was obsessed with social class, and always trying to claw his way to the top. He seemed to both worship the nobility but also resent them for holding him at arm's length.

He was of course dependent on the patronage of the wealthy to create his art. Whatever the cause, Hans Christian Andersen's stories portray everyone from invented royalty, to the truly destitute. He believed, "Every man's life is a fairy tale written by God's fingers. Many of his protagonists are obvious depictions of himself; caring a lot what other people thought of them and worried about fitting in.

Yet even battling all his worries, Hans Christian Andersen managed to find his voice and write his stories. In many of his stories he seems to explore ideas about wealth, self-worth, and the meaning of life. Many other aspects of the author's life feed into his stories, which were quite an eye-opener to read. If you think that he wrote "nice" stories for children, then perhaps think again. Some of them are very dark in tone, and most are quite depressing. He has been called a "poet of human suffering". Story after story ends in rejection, humiliation or disappointment.

Many of the stories feature a downtrodden protagonist. Sometimes the main character will work hard, and then have a wonderful "fairytale" ending. Perhaps they are lucky, becoming rich, or famous, or falling in love, or a combination of these. Sometimes our downtrodden protagonist works hard, and is just about to achieve fulfilment in one of these ways Sometimes there is no change at all, and the downtrodden protagonist remains downtrodden. And then probably dies.

The downtrodden protagonist is not always "he". Sometimes it is a "she". Or equally often it may be a household object, or a flower, a tree, or an animal. Hans Christian Andersen's stories are fantasies, like dreams or visions. The object or creature will have a personality of its own, often showing a boastful or arrogant side; it will talk to other creatures or objects Sometimes the story does not even seem to be a moral fable; perhaps the object does not seem to have a bad side but it will probably die nonetheless.


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His stories often feature children—usually a perfect vision of children who are like miniature adults doing various good things. Sometimes they die too. Sometimes the protagonists do not themselves die, but lose a loved one, and must accept that God is in charge of everything—even when they do not understand the reason. And in this way, through every single story, there seems to be a common thread.

Hans Christian Andersen's tales are full of ideas about God, angels, faith, the Bible, the afterlife, and sin. He constantly reflects on what it takes to get into heaven, the various wicked things people do, and the nature of God, love, and forgiveness. Considering that the author himself said the stories were for children, it seems remarkable that they are so preoccupied with the darker side of being human.

People sin, he says, and darkness often lives in our hearts and souls. He clearly thinks that all humans are sinners and should live in fear of God, but he also keeps reinforcing the redemptive power of love and faith. Many of Hans Christian Andersen's stories end up with the characters in heaven. Although not exactly a Catholic, his views and expressed beliefs certainly inclined that way.

Hans Christian Andersen did not start out by writing fairy tales, although that is what we remember him for. Even as a child he had artistic leanings, becoming swept up by the "Tales from the Arabian Nights" which his father told him, and the toy theatre his father had made. The young Hans played with this, and made clothes for his dolls, dreaming of becoming an actor, a singer or a dancer. After his father died he left home to seek his fortune in Copenhagen, committed to an artistic life.

He attached himself to various well-to-do families, successfully courted the attention of wealthy and influential people, one after another, and even had his fees at the Ballet School of the Royal Theatre paid. However this attendance was a short-lived experience. His teachers there crushed him by saying that he "lacked both the appearance and the talent necessary for the stage. Every cruel remark, or casual, careless comment would be taken to heart and never forgotten.

So his wealthy patrons transferred their money to educating him at a private school for gentlemen. But he found this experience a torment too, saying, "it will destroy my soul".

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It led to him writing a sentimental, maudlin poem called "The Dying Child". But with a stroke of luck, the poem was published in the newspaper "The Copenhagen Post" in , and the young man's future was assured. Hans Christian Andersen's first writing projects included a play, a book of poetry and a travelogue.

The promising young author then won a grant from the king, and this enabled him to travel across Europe and work on being an author. He wrote a novel about his time in Italy, which was published in , the same year as he began writing his stories—called "eventyr" , or "fairy tales"—and often based on ideas from folk tales that he had heard or read as a child. Another of his preoccupations was to try out new places. He had a wanderlust, and an urge to flee from what he considered to be provincial life. There are echoes of this in his works. In "Five Peas in the Same Pod" all the peas are happy until one needs to explore the world outside.

In "The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep" , the couple brave all kinds of adventures, in search of something better. There are many instances of someone "trying out their wings". Hans Christian Andersen himself travelled relentlessly, but had a morbid fear of death. Wherever he laid his head, there next to him was a coil of rope which he took everywhere with him, and a handwritten notice, saying, "I only seem dead".

He was obsessed with the thought that he might lapse into a coma, and be buried before he could come round. In fact he kept this strange morbid dread of being buried alive through to the very day he died. Over the next few decades, until his death in , he continued to write for both children and adults. He wrote several autobiographies, and also travel narratives and poetry about the Scandinavian people. In , English translations of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales and stories began to gain the attention of foreign audiences. He became a friend of Charles Dickens, who was already enormously popular, although this friendship ended in failure after Hans Christian Andersen had overstayed his welcome at the great author's home.

Charles Dickens rather spitefully put up a notice on the wall of his bedroom, after Hans Christian Andersen had left. Milne and Beatrix Potter. Over time, Scandinavian audiences then discovered his stories, and now of course they are known world-wide. Hans Christian Andersen's tales seem to have universal appeal, no matter what language they are read in. His stories express themes that transcend age and nationality—often presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity. They are written in a very chatty intimate style, which won him no favours from his original literary critics, who considered this tone inappropriate.

But once he found his voice, he found he could not stop writing them, saying, "They forced themselves from me". A friend once expostulated, "You're capable of writing about anything - even a darning needle! The stories are clearly cathartic, but also full of beauty, tragedy, nature, religion, artfulness, deception, betrayal, love, death, judgement and penance. And—very occasionally—one has a happy ending. The author called his autobiography "The Fairy Tale of my Life" , and indeed his life reads like a traditional fairy tale.

Think what the blurb might be: "The son of an illiterate washerwoman and a poor cobbler, who may secretly be a royal prince, who, through sheer persistence and influential help from an unlikely source, becomes a world-famous author, in a privileged position, hobnobbing with royalty" perhaps? Ironically, at the age of fourteen, when he left home, he had predicted this outcome, "First you go through terrible suffering and then you become famous.

Later still, Hans Christian Andersen's first fairy tales followed this template of rewriting a traditional story, but in fact only eight out of a total of are direct retllings of Danish folk tales. He quickly moved on to writing his own—and you can certainly tell. Every single one seems to be about an aspect of himself, and he freely admitted, "I was always the chief person" , the gawky ugly duckling who didn't quite fit in. His friend H. Orsted had said to him, "[Your novel] will make you famous, but the fairy tales will make you immortal". I have rarely felt such ambivalence towards an author.

These fairy stories are probably by the only author for whom my personal rating of works varies between one and five stars. He is an extraordinary writer, but I cannot say that I have enjoyed very many of his tales; many of them I have had to steal myself to read. It will certainly be a while before I read another big book of fairy stories, after ploughing through two collections of "Tales from the Arabian Nights" and now this one.

The stories vary in standard and taste so much, that I have given this volume my default rating of three stars. And because of this, I have felt it necessary to review nearly all— in fact thirty-five —of the stories in this collection separately, whenever they have been published as individual books. Please see my shelves for links, if you wish to read my review of a particular story.

View all 10 comments. Strangely, despite four decades on Earth, I have almost no familiarity with this gentleman Hans. If I can live another 4 decades, I doubt I'll forget about him from here on out. I don't think it's just my glasses that view Hans Christian Andersen as a soul that senses more darkness than light. He seems to say, feel both beauty and evil, know them both, accept them both, but my heart pains that the former will never have the upper hand.

Throughout his tales I find his dreamy poetics are amazingly served with a shimmering personal touch; they are not distant, community-built folktales. There are also wonderful juxtapositions, magical paradoxes, and a communicative simplicity that can travel, like a drop in the lake, as deeply as the reader wishes to take things. At the same time, there are many stories of a different breed which will never make it to Disney. Sharp not only in its depth of understanding, but also in both heavy-handedness and bitterness.

Word play, symbolism, and connections in these stories are as far from innocence and naivete as you will find. Other not so well-known stories such as A Drop of Water and The Shadow are probably my favorites so far. Both are extremely intense and particularly revelatory regarding how HCA views human behavior and human nature. Very direct, dark and twisted, but done in unique and colorful ways, they continue to show that HCA was not a simple children's man or the one-trick pony that permeates much of his recognition. What are the connections? In a time when the construction of myths and fairy tales is practically extinct, when even the originals are mostly watered down and considered antiquated, Mr.

Andersen delivered his most pleasant winds not so long ago and they stretch back to not only the earliest of human experience, but also connect just as strongly to us sensitives amongst moderns. This is a tome to keep bedside, never finishing, never repeating. View all 7 comments. You should call things by their true names, and even if you don't do so usually, you ought to in a fairy tale. I'll have to read it in full some time.

As for the rest, they were mostly better-known Andersen tales, all of which I had read before, some even previously illustrated by Zwerger as stand-alone picture books. So, nice illustrations, big text blocks, familiar You should call things by their true names, and even if you don't do so usually, you ought to in a fairy tale. So, nice illustrations, big text blocks, familiar stories. Nothing to wrote home about unless you've not read them before. My favorite was from Thumbelina, because doesn't the flower fairy prince totally look like a douche trying to make it with some innocent teen?

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  8. Good gravy but something was wrong with Hans Christian Anderson. If household objects aren't chatting about their social status, then people are dying in the streets of Copenhagen! I mean, seriously. I knew the original story of The Little Mermaid, but my kids didn't. The horror on their faces was priceless. I'd never read the whole thing. I think the best part was when Gerda asks the flowers if they've s Good gravy but something was wrong with Hans Christian Anderson.


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    4. I think the best part was when Gerda asks the flowers if they've seen Kai, and they all reply with weird, existential imagery, and Gerda says, "Well, that's not at all helpful! This is a beautiful edition, though. Color and black-and-white illustrations, gilt-edged, rich paper.

      Very nice! Taking the FutureLearn course from Odense. There are some good stories here, and some that scarred my childhood. Between dead match girls and trashed fir trees not to mention frightening Snow Queens the Thumblinias were sometimes needed. Still they last. Excuse me I didn't get much sleep last night, there was something poking my back under my 20 mattresses. This is an absolutely fantastic collection of Hans Christian Andersen's best work. The translation, by Tiina Nunnally, is sublime and her notes on past translations of Andersen's stories makes it clear just how sublime it is.

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      If you wanted to read a version closer to H. Andersen's original, you'd have to read these in Danish. Jackie Wullschlager's introduction is easily one of the best I've read and an essential lens through which to better understand these tales. Short of reading Wullschlager' This is an absolutely fantastic collection of Hans Christian Andersen's best work. Short of reading Wullschlager's biography of Andersen, "Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller", I think you'd be hard pressed to read a more wonderful account of Andersen's life and stories than this page introduction.

      And what about the stories themselves? The stories are, of course, phenomenal. This is the first time I've read any of Andersen's stories since I was a child and, if possible, I enjoyed reading them even more as an adult. All the witticisms and references to Andersen's life that you don't pick up on as a child are to be savored as an adult. Many of these stories I had never read or heard before, so I was also surprised and brought back to what it was like to be a child again - so enrapturing are these tales.

      There are a total of 30 to be found in this lovely collection, some utterly delightful, others surprisingly dark, and still others that perhaps pale in comparison to the rest. But one thing that is for sure is that these tales are rendered by Tiiny Nunnally to be enjoyed better than ever before in English. The Tinderbox - 5 Stars Yes, this is a 5-star story to be sure. More folk than fairy, this tale is in fact based on an older Danish folktale that Andersen transformed with his characteristic wit.

      It's stupendous. Little Claus and Big Claus - 5 stars So when I saw the title for some reason I thought that this was going to have something to do with Santa Claus until I realized that, oh yes, Claus is actually a name for ordinary people as well - specifically, Germanic men. But that aside, this is a hilarious story, also based on a Danish folktale, about an awfully clever little fellow who performs some delightful tricks.