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Hans Christian Andersen – Fairy Tales

May 4, 2008

62. Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen, translated into English by Tiina Nunnally (original 1835-1847, this translation 2004)

Read By: Kate Reading and Richard Matthews
Length: 13h 10m (496 pages)

Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tales

Started: 09 April 2008
Finished: 04 May 2008

Summary: A new translation of thirty of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, including some very familiar ones (“Thumbelina”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Ugly Duckling”), as well as a host of less familiar (to me, anyways) stories. Talking plants, animals, household items, and toys are present in abundance, as are enchantments, schemes, and lessons learned.

Review: Due to the way my work scheduling goes, late April and early May is the exact time of year when I have to really go out of my way to make time to listen to my audiobook. And, as it happens, both this year and last year I’ve picked audiobooks that wind up not holding my attention at all, meaning I don’t make the time, meaning they take forever. Unfortunately, this book was one of those. I like fairy tales. Hans Christian Andersen is known for his fairy tales. Heck, the book is called Fairy Tales (although I don’t think there was a single actual fairy to be found). And yet, not only did the repetitive nature of the stories bore me, but the stories themselves didn’t hold my interest, meaning I could turn off the book mid-story and have absolutely no compulsion to go back to it. I mainly picked this one up because I’d always heard that fairy tales had been Disney-ified, that Andersen’s originals were much darker and fewer happy endings. Which, that’s true, but it also leads to me wondering who exactly the target audience is for this book. I’d be hesitant to let my kids (if I had any) listen to it, because there’s a fair amount of violence, lying, poor treatment of women, and disturbing imagery that happens without the blink of an eye, and the stories that try moralizing mostly have kind of terrible morals. But, on the other hand, as a grown up I just can’t get into story after story about talking tin soldiers wanting to marry the ballerina statues. They’re classic stories, and I wish the audiobook had included the editor’s and translator’s notes that are apparently included in the print version. Maybe that would have helped me put them into some better context, but on a cold listen, it just felt to me like their time had passed. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: May be worth reading for the historical interest, but my taste runs more towards slightly more modernized fairy tales, or at least more modernized tellings.

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First Line: A soldier came marching along the road, left, right, left, right. (from “The Tinder Box”)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2011 12:40 pm

    I’ve just got to reply to this. Can’t stop myself. Hans Christian Anderson mesmerized me as a child, both as a reader and a young writer wanting to write fairy stories of my own. I’ve just bought this new edition and so far I’m loving it. Yes, there’s violence, poor treatment of women and disturbing imagery, but that’s the history of folk lore for you [and our history too] and all these elements have something to say. If in my life as a children’s author I could have drawn on, say, Charlotte Burne’s Shropshire Folklore or Edgar McCulloch’s Guernsey Folklore [two wonderful 19th century books which I’m lucky enough to have picked up in first edition] as successfully as Anderson has on the folk stories of his own tradition, I’d be a happy author! I don’t want to disagree for disagreement’s sake, but I really do think that, even in this day and age, Anderson has an important place.

  2. M E Cheshier permalink
    November 17, 2014 3:15 am

    Reblogged this on Book Reviews Current and commented:
    Love the write up!

  3. M E Cheshier permalink
    November 17, 2014 3:15 am

    Thanks for the great write-up


  1. Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen | A Good Stopping Point

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