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Annotated Hans Christian Andersen Hardcover – Oct 30 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Andersen, creator of The Princess and the Pea and The Ugly Duckling, receives treasury treatment in this latest entry in Norton's series of annotated classics, replete with margin notes attentive to historical contexts, critical interpretations and folkloric influences. Tatar, Harvard's dean for humanities (The Annotated Brothers Grimm), relates that when she taught Andersen's tales, undergraduates often reported their magical childhood experiences with the fairy tales and protested her analyses of Andersen's frequently brutal scenarios. Tatar avers that her research did help her re-evaluate the affective qualities of Andersen's work. While it remains important to acknowledge the sadism of renowned tales like The Snow Queen and The Little Match Girl, and to investigate Andersen's bitter efforts to join fashionable Danish society (noted in a biographical appendix), this collection of 12 Tales for Children and a dozen more Tales for Adults focuses on the stories' fairy tale references and aesthetic appeal. Gorgeous turn-of-the-century illustrations by Kay Nielsen, William Heath Robinson and others and a section with comments from Dickens, van Gogh and Ursula Le Guin, among others testify to Andersen's wide influence. Translating with Julie K. Allen, Tatar conveys the indisputable magnetism and uncanny, threatening beauty of Andersen's visions. 146 color and b&w illus. (Nov.)
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About the Author
Julie K. Allen is assistant professor in the Department of Scandanavian Studies at University of Wisconsin. She is co-translator of The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen, with Maria Tatar.
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This annotated volume not only allows the reader a fresh view of some famous stories, it also makes the enormously complex original author much more comprehensible and even more likeable.
Putting the collection in context, the Introduction, "Denmark's Perfect Wizard", speaks to Anderson's genius, a Dane born over 200 years ago. Anderson tackles provocative subjects: compassion ("The Little Match Girl"); hypocrisy ("The Emperor's New Clothes"); and the necessity of hope ("The Ugly Duckling"). Sparking imagination through the texture and color of language, darker issues are dressed in sparkling prose and brilliant hue ("a purple flower with light streaming from its calyx"). It is such language that draws young and old into the world of the fairy tale, subtle lessons on the vagaries of human behavior and the undiluted power of storytelling as a means of universal communication.
Evocative illustrations and fascinating annotations offer a depth of perspective that is common to this series, an exploration of social consciousness and tales couched in the visual and the arcane, a juxtaposition of morality and fantasy that allows the reader to challenge preconceptions and enter the world of expanded imagination, because some stories never grow old. Luan Gaines/ 2007.