Too often the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen are lumped with those collected by the Brothers Grimm, yet Andersen did not seek to simply preserve a form of oral tradition. Although his characters were the stuff of folklore-sprites, trolls, mermaids-he produced, in addition to definitive editions of traditional tales (such as "The Princess on the Pea"), entirely new works, woven by his own imagination. Andersen represents a dramatic and revolutionary shift in perspective; before his tales, children's stories were not meant for enjoyment but as tools to educate children about morals and behavior. Hans Christian Andersen shaped an entire genre of writing-his had a truthful, convincing, genuine storyteller's voice, aimed at children but mindful "that Father and Mother often listen, and you must also give them something for their mind."
This never-before-published translation includes thirty of Andersen's stories featuring the work by award-winning translator Tiina Nunnally, and edited and introduced by critic and Hans Christian Andersen scholar Jackie Wullschlager. It is also enhanced by reproductions of Andersen's intricate and fascinating paper cutouts.
Andersen's childhood was marked by folklore and superstition, but he was fortunate to be born on the cusp of social change: his generation was one of the first to embrace social mobility. Born on April 2, 1805 to a washer woman and a cobbler, he was an awkward child, over-sensitive and less than athletic. Propelled into young adulthood by his eagerness to display his talents as a singer and writer, he eventually acquired patrons, traveled throughout Europe, and found success as a writer. Stories like "The Emperor's New Clothes" and the quasi-autobiographical "The Ugly Duckling" have since become as indispensable to cultural rhetoric as references to Shakespeare and the Bible. As Wullschlager's notes in her introduction, Andersen is truly a major European writer, influencing not only Lewis Carroll and Walt Disney, but also Franz Kafka and Salman Rushdie. Spiked with satire and darkness, and permeated by his powerful sense of exclusion, Fairy Tales will delight and enrapture adults and children alike.