Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Mitchell Kalpakgian

Katharine Cameron's Snow Queen

Crisis Magazine (A Voice for the Faithful Catholic Laity) recently published an article touting the virtues of Hans Christian Andersen's works. From Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Mitchell Kalpakgian:

Proverbs, folk tales, and fairy tales provide a great source of the world’s accumulated wisdom and perennial philosophy. To read Andersen’s fairy tales is to rediscover the adventure of the human story, to experience the sweet taste of goodness, and to marvel at the miraculous nature of reality. In “The Travelling Companion” Anderson portrays good works as forgotten actions done for their own sake and left behind, yet these humble deeds to strangers in remote places performed in the darkness of the night or the silence of a church assume the nature of hidden buried seeds that have a fruitful, potent quality that produces an unforeseen abundance.

A good deed is a travelling companion, a powerful seed, a mysterious power that never really dies or remains unacknowledged even though the sower of these actions never thinks about them as deserving of recognition or rewards. As Andersen shows, the most momentous, surprising boons of good fortune can often be traced to these forgotten deeds of a pure heart. In the story poor John parts with his last $50 to prevent two vindictive rogues from violating the dead body of a man who never paid them his debt. In a lonely, obscure place John pays the debt and performs his simple good deed for a dead man who cannot even say thank you—only to discover later that the dead man is no more dead than a buried seed or the remembered past.
Click through to read the entire article. My favorite part is the discussion of some less popular HCA tales as well as the unexpected source of the article. I had to share the Travelling Companion excerpt here since it is also a Grateful Dead tale, a collection I hope to have out by the end of the year.

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