Dec 19, 10
This is a rather charming volume that takes a little effort to wade through if tales of the lives of trees, thimbles, candles, and obscure (to Westerners) European and Scandinavian history aren't your usual fare. Ask anyone on the street what their favourite Andersen story is, and they will likely reply, "Disney's 'Little Mermaid' was fun and had sweet music." Some may mention the Emperor's New Clothes, or The Ugly Duckling. After reading his complete works, my conclusion is that Andersen's famous stories aren't necessarily his best.
Over the nearly thousand pages, there are the stories of inanimate objects and tales of Tycho Brahe's exploits that I alluded to earlier, beast fables, fairy tales, and heart-wrenching stories of unrequited love. His fairy tales (stories with elves, goblins, and princesses), are excellent, but sadly far too few, filling probably less than a quarter of the total works.
I'm not sure how many people are aware of just how many stories Andersen wrote that are tragic in every sense of the word. There is probably a reason these stories aren't as well-known in today's age where the beauty of childhood is extolled; I think a lot of people have missed the reality that childhood is no longer idyllic and many children live very tragic lives. For this reason, I believe these tragic pieces should be read, that they may touch a new generation. Honestly speaking, reading them broke my heart and made me weep.
I am giving this book four stars because there were too many stories that were, in a word, superfluous. For those looking for literature suitable for children, or those who are desiring fanciful stories with a strong religious slant, I would recommend this book-- Highly. For the casual reader, you are probably better off with a book of selected tales.