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Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales Hardcover – October 28, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This collection of new translations of 30 stories, most of them among the best known in world literature, is justified on at least two counts. The first is editor Wullschlager's fine introduction, which discriminates three periods in Andersen's story-writing career and traces his and the stories' parallel developments from youthful pluck and optimism through midlife introspection and doubt to elderly fear and wistful hope. Distilling her brilliant, full-scale study Hans Christian^B Andersen^B (2000), Wullschlager shows how Andersen's psychological peculiarities and lasting neuroses inform the stories, points up the serious preoccupations and tragic undercurrents in Andersen's work, and stresses the oral, vernacular character of Andersen's artistry that has been so hard to translate adequately. The book's other great justification lies in translator Nunnally's work, which so persuasively renders Andersen's distinctive voice as Wullschlager--and Nunnally's invaluable translator's note--describes it. Adding value to the enterprise are the illustrations (unavailable for review), one per selection, which depict the paper cutouts Andersen made to accompany his oral delivery of his work. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Hans Christian Andersen is one of the canonical storytellers of the nineteenth century, equally disturbing and delighting for adults as for children. There have been some capable versions available in English, but Tiina Nunnally's seems to me the best. Jackie Wullschlager's introduction will be of enormous value to the reader."
-Harold Bloom

"Tiina Nunnally's new versions of the tales amount to a recuperation of Andersen, in all his strangeness, darkness and comic subversiveness--and Jackie Wullschlager's introduction is invaluable."
-John Banville

"A most welcome new edition. Tiina Nunnally's excellent translation brings the stories to life, while Jackie Wullschlager's scholarly introduction serves as an enlightening complement to the text. I much enjoyed revisiting these seminal tales."
-Penelope Lively

"Jackie Wullschlager's introduction and Tiina Nunnally's translation both succeed admirably in catching the wonderful mixture of tradition-hallowed simplicity and eerie originality that are characteristic of Hans Christian Andersen and his stories."
-Robert Irwin

"Children, prepare yourselves to be delighted. Adults, you are at the mercy of a compelling master storyteller whose gifts are a sweeping imagination, the sorcery of language, and whose tales will leave you amused, joyful, charmed, sometimes perplexed, but most of all, pondering. Don't be surprised if the veiled character studies reveal yourselves, or if bizarre happenings offer a truth you need to know. Through Tiina Nunnally's fresh and sensitive translation, the imagery and subtleties of Andersen's prose shine."
-Susan Vreeland --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1st edition (October 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713996412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713996418
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,022,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've read several versions of many of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales; since I also read Danish, I can confirm that this is definitely the closest to his style of any translation I've ever seen. Nothing is added, nothing is omitted, and all his unique strangeness shines through in English at last.

Andersen was the first Danish author to break out of the mold of both neoclassicism and romanticism which preceded him, and his genius lay in writing as if he were telling the stories out loud to a group of children -- in the earlier, simpler tales -- and in capturing all the sorrow and joy of life in his later tales for adults. You may think you know these stories (no, there are no singing crabs in "The Little Mermaid," one of the more painful stories you will ever read), but you're in for a big surprise. Finally a translator who dares NOT to rewrite, explain, and simplify Hans Christian Andersen! Truly a magnificent edition in celebration of the author's bicentennial on April 2, 2005. (Read the biography by Jens Andersen too, it's a real eye-opener.)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We just got this book for my 8 year old daughter and I've been reading the stories to her. This book shows what a truly great story teller Hans Christian Anderson was! His stories sparkle! When I first got the book I was disappointed because the pictures are not at all spectacular. Upon reading the stories, the pictures don't matter at all. Anderson paints the pictures in your mind and you are just transported into his stories. The words are the pictures. My daughter and I are both enjoying this wonderful literature! I highly recommend the book to anyone wanting to introduce their child to truly wonderful classics.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This translation of the original Danish seem to match well the stories I grew up to like back in Scandinavia. If you want to get close to the mind of HC Andersen, this is a good bet.

For younger children some of the stories may be inappropriate. For example, "the Red Shoes" has a girl getting her feet chopped off for her sins. In general, HC didn't necessarily believe in happy endings, so be aware. This is a non-Disney fairy tale book.

The book's binding and pages are a bit stiff, but not overly. It is not too heavy either, so it works well when reading loud in bed.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Hans Christian Anderson is a remarkable writer; his version of The Little Mermaid about had me in tears towards the end. My two younger girls listened to these with me and enjoyed the stories as well, although they had a lot of questions about a few of them.

There are some adult themes which might require filtering depending on age. There is one story where a character commits suicide, and there are a few violent scenes throughout the entire volume. The stories really cover the entire spectrum of human emotion, although nothing is described in particularly graphic terms.

The stories are beautifully and clearly narrated, and some of the passages were positively haunting. They've chosen a good translation as well; I think it keeps closely to the feel of the original text.

There are all types of stories, too; long, complex ones, but also shorter, simple narratives, and then everything in between. Some of the stories are dark, and some cheerful. Anderson's stories are set in various countries and feature all ages of protagonists (some who are human, and some not). I would highly recommend these for anyone who wants thought-provoking, intense fairy tales and moving narration.
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Format: Hardcover
Tiina Nunnally's translation of a selection of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales leaves all the adult insinuations intact and doesn't sweeten the endings with sugar-coating. Above all, she captures the poetic sensibility of HCA.

These are probably not stories to be read out to children just before they sleep. The stories ached with the sadness of lost innocence and unrequited--both heterosexual and homosexual--love.

The omnipresent narrator tells his stories from the vantage point of a hawk in the sky and mole-rat burrowing beneath the surface of the earth. Like all good stories, they tell us something about the human condition, and like the best of them, they do so without telling us exactly what it is.
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Format: Hardcover
From my childhood I knew only a few [and those in "retold" versions] so it was a delight and an adventure to read his stories in this new collection. Many of these tales originally were deemed "unsuitable" for children, and there is often death and sometimes grusome details. Not all the children are nice either!
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