I have been ploughing on with my new-found love for short story collections in 2014 but you may not have noticed that I was. That would be because I picked up the epic Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales collection back in February! I have been dipping in and out of the collection for the last seven months with my two week holiday in France being the time I needed to finish it off.
This Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales collection that I read contains over 200 magical short stories. I found some of the stories easily recognisable from my childhood, some seemed a little familiar, while there were plenty that were brand new for me. Those that I instantly recognised included The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Snow Queen, The Little Match Girl, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid and The Princess and the Pea. One of my preconceptions going into reading Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales was that they would be a lot darker than the modern versions we think of today. While The Little Mermaid is a lot sadder than the Disney film I didn’t really find the stories that much darker. There is quite a lot of death and suffering in these stories which left me with a less positive feeling than I perhaps would have had from modern counterparts.
When I read The Complete Brothers’ Grimm Fairy Tales last year I struggled with the lack of different and strong female characters. I know that with an old work this can be common so I was left a little apprehensive that I would have the same problem with Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales. I am happy to inform you I didn’t have a problem. I thought there was a lovely mixture of male and female characters of different ages, roles and social status. Many of the stories are also filled with an assortment of animals, plants, magical creatures, spirits and inanimate objects which can speak and come to life. I really loved the variety that Hans Christian Andersen’s used in his stories in this collection.
I have wanted to read Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales for a while now. I haven’t read anything by Hans Christian Andersen before so when I spotted a free digital version of this collection I snapped it up for my Kindle. Unfortunately this version I have has some stories repeated more than once. A little annoying but didn’t really harm my enjoyment of the stories. I was not surprised to find the stories were a little archaic in style and sentence structure, and contained some phrases or opinions pertaining to class, gender and race of the time they were written in but nothing I found particularly offensive. I can overlook these because I expect them from such an old work. I actually enjoyed reading these stories not just for their magical elements but because of the social commentary and Christian beliefs embedded within them. When I read The Complete Brothers’ Grimm Fairy Tales I came away feeling depressed and with mixed moral messages. Happily Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales I felt tackled some difficult topics well with balanced moral messages and even in some of the darkest times there felt like there was some hope.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales is an epic collection of tales filled with magic, adventure, faith and life. I found it rather charming. I recommend to those interested in reading classic fairy tales. This is my 24th read off my Classics Club list. Good read.
Have you read this? Do you enjoy fairy tales?