Children's Folk Tales - Andersen Hans Christian

Essays on literary works - 2023

Children's Folk Tales
Andersen Hans Christian

More than a hundred years ago, in a small provincial town in Denmark - Odense, on the island of Funen, extraordinary events took place. Quiet, slightly sleepy streets of Odense were suddenly filled with the sounds of music. A procession of artisans, carrying torches and banners, marched past the brightly lit old town hall, saluting a tall, blue-eyed man who stood by the window. In honor of whom did the inhabitants of Odense light their fires in September 1869?

It was Hans Christian Andersen, elected shortly before that as an honorary citizen of his native city. Honoring Andersen, his countrymen sang the heroic deed of a man and writer, "the best storyteller in the world," as Charles Dickens rightly called him.

Hans Christian Andersen was born on April 2, 1805 on the outskirts of Odense, in the family of a poor shoemaker and laundress. In the house of his parents, there was often no bread, not to mention new clothes and shoes. (This material will help you write correctly on the topic Biography of Hans Christian Andersen. The summary does not make it possible to understand the whole meaning of the work, so this material will be useful for a deep understanding of the work of writers and poets, as well as their novels, short stories, short stories, plays, poems. ) But even in this beggarly life there were joys, simple and at the same time extraordinary. Andersen loved the house where he was born; forever remained in his memory a clean, carefully tidied room with two windows, a bookshelf, a shoemaker's workbench. And a small kitchen, a box of parsley and onions outside the window, an elder bush in the yard. The boy also knew well the dark forest with deep ditches that stretched across the river, gardens and courtyards overgrown with giant burdocks, in which countless snails swarm. On the river, covered with water lily leaves, snow-white swans swam, and storks proudly walked in the meadows. Little Hans Christian enthusiastically observed the life of nature, plants: the bud is just swelling, but the yellow leaf is already fading ...

And how many interesting things were on the streets of Odense, which was famous for its fun folk holidays! To Andersen as a child, his native city seemed mysterious and beautiful, the houses were huge, the streets were long. Almost every house was associated with some folk tradition. Not to mention the old Gothic cathedral and especially the river with its famous Bell Pool. “... A world as rich as in the Thousand and One Nights opened up before me,” Andersen later wrote about childhood traditions.

However, the imagination of the impressionable boy was also fed by the books that his father read to him. He was an exceptionally capable person - a book lover, a dreamer. But his dreams did not come true: he did not see either the gymnasium or distant countries. The poor shoemaker passed on his love of reading and desire to learn to his son, revealing to him the wisdom and beauty of books. Andersen himself learned to read early, and, having once visited the theater, he began to compose plays and poems. But it was difficult for the son of a shoemaker to get into the city school, and the boy was sent to a school for the poor, where they taught writing, arithmetic and the law of God.

Meanwhile, tragic changes were brewing in the Andersen family. It was 1813, and little Denmark also took part in Napoleon's campaigns. In the country, everything rose in price, life became more and more difficult. The father of the future storyteller agreed to become a soldier, replacing the son of a rich peasant for an appropriate reward. The money that the shoemaker received for recruiting quickly dispersed. Returning home in 1814, he died of consumption two years later.

Andersen was 11 at the time. An artistically gifted boy, whom many in the city called "little William Shakespeare", went to work in a cloth factory, and then in a tobacco factory, wanting to alleviate the family's situation. But he was still drawn to books and to the theater. The case helped Andersen to determine his vocation. In 1818, the troupe of the Copenhagen Royal Theater visited Odense, where extras were recruited, and the boy played the role of a page. A year later, during a tour in Odense by another theater troupe, he acted as a postman. The actors became the idols of Hans Christian, and he decided to go to Copenhagen to try his luck in the theater. By that time, he had managed to accumulate 13 dalers. It seemed to the naive boy that with this amount he would conquer the world, the center of which seemed to him the capital of Denmark.

The writer always considered this day the most significant in his life. Therefore, when in December 1867 he was elected an honorary citizen of Odense, he asked to postpone the festivities until September 6, 1869, when it would be half a century from the day he arrived in the capital of Denmark. But then, in 1819, even in his wildest dreams he did not imagine that world fame awaited him. The boy was not taken to the theater: he lost his voice. After all, he went about in a thin coat, in torn shoes, and was constantly catching a cold. The money quickly came to an end and Andersen lived on funds that were sometimes collected for him by subscription by people who were friendly towards him. Hans Christian knew well what it meant to be homeless and hungry, which is why his words sounded so excited in the fairy tale "The Ugly Duckling":

Nevertheless, in 1821, the young man managed to play the role of a troll in the ballet Armida, and when his voice returned to him, he was accepted into a choral school. Then he began to write comedies, and his dream of becoming an actor was joined by the desire to become a poet. But Andersen often lacked the most elementary knowledge, and Jonas Collin, who was in the directorate of the theater, secured for him free education at the gymnasium of the provincial town of Slagelse, and then Helsingor, and an annual scholarship. Now Andersen was full and somehow dressed. But he, a seventeen-year-old boy, had to sit on a school bench next to second-grade students, boys of twelve or thirteen years old, who teased him in every possible way. Yes, and study was not easy for him! “It was a matter of life and death,” Andersen later wrote, “and I struggled with all my might against the waves that threatened to drown me:

The despair of Hans Christian was aggravated by the unfriendly attitude towards him of the rude rector of the Meisling gymnasium, a failed poet who took out his anger on his students, especially such poor and humble origins as Andersen. Collin, who knew about the difficult life of his ward, allowed him to return to Copenhagen.

Andersen's school years are over. He is back in the capital, preparing for university and living in a narrow alley where the poor huddle. In September 1828, twenty-three-year-old Hans Christian passed his exams and became a student at the University of Copenhagen. Still eking out a miserable existence, he was happy to have escaped from the "Aschisling hell", where the cruel rector forbade him to write poetry and where he secretly composed plays, novels, poems and fairy tales, which have been preserved in fragments to this day. Now, in Copenhagen, Andersen, having got rid of oppression, was completely engaged in literature. He writes an infinite number of poems, a travel essay "A walk to Amager ...", a play "Love on the Tower of St. Nicholas, a few romantic tales... Andersen is beginning to be printed, his play is being staged at the Royal Theatre... But this did not at all save him from want.

Andersen's life is an endless, continuous work; it is the joy of traveling around your native country and far, far beyond its borders - to Germany, France, England, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Greece, etc.; this is friendship with outstanding people of his time, among them the famous writers Hugo, Dumas père, Heine, the composer Schumann, the sculptor Thorvaldsen, the actress Rachel. Andersen was not married, he had no family; the woman he loved, the famous Swedish singer Jenny Lind, loved his fairy tales but did not love him.

World fame came to the writer, and when he died on August 4, 1875, national mourning was declared in Denmark. Andersen's funeral was attended by the poor and the nobility, students, deputies of the city of Odense, foreign ambassadors, ministers and the Danish king. “It seemed that on that day the Copenhageners had nothing else to do but bury Hans Christian Andersen,” wrote one eyewitness. The coffin with the body of the writer was carried in his arms through the streets of Copenhagen. Mourning banners were bowed before him. On August 11, the Fatherland newspaper published a poem: Our king has descended into the grave, And there is no one to take his throne.

Years passed, and a monument to Andersen was erected in the Royal Garden in Copenhagen with the inscription: "Erected by the Danish people." In 1955, the centenary of the writer's birth was celebrated in all countries at the call of the World Peace Council. And just recently, in 1975, the people of our planet celebrated the centenary of his death. The storyteller's books are published in millions of copies all over the world and enjoy the invariable recognition of children and adults.

“It is not easy to live after death. Sometimes you have to spend your whole life on this,” the Polish writer Jerzy Lec once rightly said. What did Hans Christian Andersen "spend" his life on? What is his literary achievement? Why does he and his name still live today? These questions are perfectly answered by one of Andersen's best fairy tales, The Snail and the Roses. Even in his youth, when the writer was subjected to unfair attacks of criticism, he composed a poem:

In the garden a black snail sat, Angry at a rose: How everyone praises her! How good! What do I care? I just took it and spat at it! And later the fairy tale “The Snail and the Roses” arose, in which Andersen, in the form of a snail, showed a self-satisfied, fenced off from the world creature that does nothing, but only criticizes others. Under the guise of a rose bush, he portrayed himself. In response to the vicious hiss of the snail, the rose bush modestly replies: “... it seems to me that we all ... should share with others the best that we have! .. Yes, I gave the world only roses ... And you?”

Andersen also gave the world roses, they were called "fairy tales". True, in fairness it should be said that, in addition to fairy tales, the Danish storyteller created five more novels, more than twenty plays, eight travel essays and countless poems. But they are only important milestones on his creative path; work on these works helped to hone Andersen's main talent - the author of more than one hundred and seventy fairy tales and stories.

It has long been customary that at all times and among all peoples people listened to fairy tales. And in these fairy tales a magical world emerged, generated by folk fantasy: it was inhabited by elves and giants, witches and trolls, foresters and women-yagas. Telling about fantastic worlds and about objects that surround a person every day, fairy tales carried away into the world of the unknown and in their own way explained the eternal questions: “how?” and why?". “How the cockerel got on the roof”, “Why does the owl scream only at night”. In folk tales, magic was intricately intertwined with a cheerful joke and serious moralizing. Passing from one narrator to another, the tale gained something, but also lost something. It took a long time for folk tales to be collected and written down by folklorists and published in book form. The first recognized collectors of folk tales were the German scientists Grimm brothers, who published Children's and Family Tales in 1812-1815. But their notes are only the first step towards a literary fairy tale, since the Brothers Grimm did not compose fairy tales themselves.

Andersen began to compose them. During his childhood, there were no collections of folk tales. A Danish child could not pick up a book of folk tales and read it. Little Andersen got acquainted with folk tales, listen to them while harvesting hops or in the spinning mill. And fairy tales opened before him a new, unknown world: “Mermaids with wreaths on their heads sat on large sea boulders, elves danced in the moonlight on the hills, witches conjured in gloomy thickets near flaming fires.” In his native Odense, Andersen found a seed that would later sprout in his literary fairy tale. He heard there the folk version of the fairy tales "The Flint", "The Princess and the Pea", "The Swineherd", "Fool Hans" and others. And the patriotic writer Andersen, who was infinitely dear to Denmark, its culture, literature and folklore, forever fell in love with the Danish folk tale. The heroes of the fairy tale attracted him with their kindness, fidelity in love and perseverance in achieving the goal. In addition, the democratic writer Andersen liked fairy tales, whose folk heroes constantly triumphed over evil, over the power of money, over the tyranny of kings and nobility.

It is not surprising that Andersen, who invented fairy tales from childhood, was going to publish a cycle of Danish folk tales in 1829-1830. But if this desire of the writer came true and he wrote down the folk tales known to him, another scientist would appear in Denmark - a collector of folklore, and Danish and world literature would lose a wonderful innovative artist who was constantly looking for new ways of creativity. And how difficult it is to find something new for someone who was born so late, like the poet from Andersen's fairy tale "Whatever they come up with ...". After all, everything has already been sung, everything has been written about! And the plots of fairy tales can be gleaned only "in the surrounding plants and fruits ... from all flowing and stagnant waters." In other words, only life suggests the content of literary fairy tales.

But Andersen did not immediately come to this conclusion and did not immediately begin to compose fairy tales on his own. At first he tried to retell them. And it’s not his fault if already in the first collection Tales Told to Children (1835-1841), thanks to his talent, he went far from popular sources. The heroes of such fairy tales as "The Flint" - the poor and the destitute - also courageously fought against their opponents - the rich, the kings, but Andersen strengthened the accusatory line of the narrative, endowing his negative heroes with a number of purely philistine, contemporary features. And this is especially noticeable in such famous fairy tales as "The Princess and the Pea", "The King's New Clothes" and "The Swineherd". The writer went so far from his sources that critics scolded him for the changes he made to the folk tale, which became a literary fairy tale under his pen.

When Andersen's fairy tales appeared in the bookstores of Copenhagen, everyone was amazed. Nobody has ever read anything like it. Where did the angelic princes and princesses that Danish children got used to go?! In Andersen's fairy tale "The Flint" a princess rides on a dog, and another princess, Eliza from the fairy tale "Wild Swans", is distinguished by extraordinary diligence and dedication. From stinging nettles she weaves shirts that can save her brothers! Where did the respect for important people go? After all, Andersen's king is completely naked! And the magical world of the fairy tale has changed so much: its heroes no longer flaunt in seven-league boots - they have ordinary waterproof boots or Galoshes of Happiness on their feet.

In Andersen's fairy tales, lengthy descriptions of nature appeared that were not at all characteristic of a folk tale: “In the open sea, the water is completely blue, like cornflower petals, and transparent, like pure glass. blue, like cornflower petals, and transparent, like pure glass ... ”And the folk tale also did not know such love as the Little Mermaid loves the prince. “How I love him! More than father and mother! I belong to him with all my heart,” the Little Mermaid thinks.

But most surprising was the fantasy of Andersen's fairy tales. The matches from the fairy tale "The Airplane Chest", which came from a pine tree, boast that every morning in their youth they drank diamond tea, that is, dew. And that they were rich, because, as you know, deciduous trees are dressed only in summer, and they had enough money for both winter and summer clothes. Andersen's wonderful humor was often built on the contrast between the natural properties of plants, animals, things and the human traits attributed to them. Andersen's fairy tale beginnings and endings have also changed. If he said: "Once upon a time there was ...", then most often it is not a prince or a king, but "Once upon a time there was an old writer." Or: "There were once twenty-five tin soldiers in the world." But usually Andersen energetically introduced the little reader to the essence of the action: “A soldier was walking along the road: one or two! one-two! ” A storyteller appeared in the writer’s tales, who often changed his appearance. Either it was Andersen himself, or a student, or Ole Lukoye. And then, as in the fairy tale "Thumbelina", - birds, then in the fairy tale "The Snow Queen" - flowers, and even later in the fairy tale about Valdemar Do - the wind.

Particularly original are Andersen's works, which were included in the collection New Tales (1843-1848), where there are almost no folk retellings. The writer came up with plots that were unusually topical for contemporary Denmark. In the fairy tales "Happy Family", "Jumpers", "Nightingale", "Neighbors" he ridiculed the Danish philistinism and bureaucracy, spoke of his admiration for true art.

Andersen's "New Tales" were born from a meeting, from the writer's contact with life. “The most wonderful fairy tales grow out of reality!” - the writer proclaims through the mouth of his heroine Elder Mother. And he called his fairy tales "new", probably because their source was real life. Whatever the storyteller would look at, whatever he would touch, everything turned into a fairy tale for him. “Often it seems to me,” he wrote, “as if every wooden fence, every flower says to me: “Just look at me, and then my story will pass to you.” And as soon as I want, I immediately have stories.

Fairy tales are everywhere! In any peasant estate, in any house, in all its corners, in any yard, on any street. New, clean houses, it turns out, not wanting to have anything to do with the old and decrepit neighbor, thought: “How long will this junk stick around here to the shame of the whole street?” And the old armchairs groaned in the room: “Oh, what an ache in the bones! And we caught rheumatism ... ”A touching romance broke out between the porcelain figurines of a shepherdess and a chimney sweep on the under-mirror table. On the kitchen table was a box containing a darning needle that pretended to be a brooch. In the poultry yard, turkeys paced importantly, ducks quacked, hens clucked. It was there that the dramatic story of the ugly duckling began. In the spring, a dried-up Christmas tree was burned in the yard; and not far away stood an old street lamp that had served its time. On the sunny side of the street a man was moving,

Everything is ordinary and simple. But one had to be Andersen - to have his lively and intent gaze, the ability to notice everything around, in order to create a fairy tale from what he saw. However, this is not enough. He had to remember the history of certain things and objects, animals and plants, endow them with some human properties, help them talk about themselves. The storyteller could not do without poetry, fantasy, irony, humor, and a benevolent attitude towards people. Thus, a new Andersen literary fairy tale arose, which was well-received not only by readers, but also by Danish critics. “From this collection,” Andersen wrote, “the great recognition of fairy tales begins.” In 1852, a small book appeared in Copenhagen. On the cover was a name that children have long loved: Hans Christian Andersen. Only below, instead of the usual word "Tales", it was written "Stories". Has Andersen stopped writing fairy tales? No, it doesn't look like it! In the collection "History" (1852 - 1855) there were already familiar images of the inhabitants of the poultry yard, as in the fairy tales "In the duck yard" and "The True Truth". In the Stories one could also meet other familiar Andersen characters, such as Danish philistines. They just appeared in a new guise. Danish rich moneybags, who looked like pigs and boasted of their tight wallets, just asked for a fairy tale! Andersen and brought them out in the fairy tale “Piggy Bank”, where a clay pig looks down on everyone, because her belly is tightly stuffed with coins. In the Stories one could also meet other familiar Andersen characters, such as Danish philistines. They just appeared in a new guise. Danish rich moneybags, who looked like pigs and boasted of their tight wallets, just asked for a fairy tale! Andersen and brought them out in the fairy tale “Piggy Bank”, where a clay pig looks down on everyone, because her belly is tightly stuffed with coins. In the Stories one could also meet other familiar Andersen characters, such as Danish philistines. They just appeared in a new guise. Danish rich moneybags, who looked like pigs and boasted of their tight wallets, just asked for a fairy tale! Andersen and brought them out in the fairy tale “Piggy Bank”, where a clay pig looks down on everyone, because her belly is tightly stuffed with coins.

“No, Andersen's fairy tale has not disappeared,” the readers decided. It was easy to see this when, in 1858-1872, the next collection "New Tales and Stories" was published, where such a typically Andersen character was encountered as a cheerful, elegant moth who could not pick up a bride for himself. Or a silver coin with its amazing human destiny.

In the new collection, Andersen also returned to the plots of folk tales, for example, in the cheerful and witty story “Whatever the hubby does, it’s okay.” Yes, the motives and images of these fairy tales seemed to be familiar, but the Danish writer's fairy tale has become different, more everyday and modern. It is enough to even compare the fairy tales "Jumpers" and "Skorokhody". In the works of Andersen, there are already philosophical discussions about truth and poetry, technical innovations and scientific discoveries of that time are mentioned. A fly rides on a steam locomotive, a sunbeam in an instant runs through the endless space that separates the earth from the sun ...

In the 1850s and 1870s, Andersen wrote both fairy tales and stories. Sometimes a fairy tale and history were combined in one work, sometimes history existed separately, on its own. But Andersen's stories were fabulous and extraordinary in their own way. “You are a happy person! one of his friends told him. - Once you dig in the gutter, and you immediately find a pearl ... ”Everything that Andersen's eyes fell on still gave birth to a fairy tale. Especially nature and its phenomena. Nature, according to Andersen, is inseparable from human life. She is a witness and participant in many events.

How much has the century-old oak from the fairy tale "The Last Dream of the Old Oak" seen! And the wind knows fairy tales and stories “more than all of us put together,” Andersen writes in the story “The Wind Tells about Valdemar Do and His Daughters,” which tells about the punishment for pride.

Andersen considered the life of any person, both the great and the smallest, to be a fairy tale. “The most amazing fairy tale is the life of a person,” the writer liked to repeat. And he created many stories about the fate of outstanding scientists, artists and the simplest, unremarkable people. In the story "Children's Chatter" he spoke about his friend the great sculptor Thorvaldsen, but he also meant himself. After all, he, the son of a poor man, was repeatedly predicted that nothing would come of him. And the gardener Larsen from the story "The Gardener and the Gentlemen" was also somewhat similar to Andersen.

But it became more and more difficult for Andersen to write in the last years of his life; it was getting harder and harder to come up with something new. Nevertheless, the writer understood that life and nature are inexhaustible. Others will see what he failed to see and write new stories. “Our eyes are not yet adapted to see all the beauty of the universe, but someday we will achieve this. It will be a fairy tale from fairy tales...,” Andersen wrote in the story “Toad”.

The great storyteller was not mistaken. The work of his successors, the creators of the Scandinavian literary tale - Sakarias, Topelius, Selma Lagerlöf, Astrid Lindgren, Sinken Hopp, Tove Jansson - opened up new sources in life and in nature. And it is significant that the fabulous work of our contemporaries Lindgren and Jansson was awarded the International Gold Medal of Hans Christian Andersen.