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The Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales [Hardcover]

Hans Christian Andersen
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 10 1993
Lilly Owens, ed. Illustrated edition of 159 cherished tales that have enchanted readers for generations. Includes The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor's New Clothes, Snow Queen, all uncut with beautiful illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Hans Richter, et al. 60 B&W illustrations. 816 pages.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book for adults and children March 13 2004
I have always been a fan of the original versions of fairy tales, so I picked this book up a few years ago, just to read for myself. A few weeks ago my six year old found it hidden among my millions of other books, and asked me to read it to her. While easy to read silently, it is a bit hard to get into the rythm of the wording at first, but after stumbling through a few paragraphs, it becomes much easier to handle.
Since the discovery of this book, my children have been requesting stories from it almost every night. At first my three year old complained about the lack of pictures (it really isn't "fully illustrated"), but she quickly got over that and enjoys listening to every story. Both of my older children like to compare these stories to ones they've seen on TV, or read in the few modernized fairy tale books we own (given to us by friends and relatives). Maybe my children are warped - which is very likely - but they prefer the original stories, with their not-so-happy, and often times violent, endings.
I've never been one to believe children need to have their reality padded... real life doesn't always end the way we hoped, so neither should stories. Hopefully this book, and ones like it, will be a bedtime favorite for years to come.
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If you remember Thumbelina, The Nightingale, The Ugly Duckling or The Princess and the Pea, they are all here in a wonderful collection of stories written by Hans Christian Anderson. Unlike the Brothers Grimm, who collected and recorded popular tales, Hans Christian Anderson wrote his own "folk" tales, which also contain Danish history and foreign literature.
Not all of his stories end well, yet this is a side of life children should learn about so they can be aware of it later in life. Your child might be horrified to learn that not everything ends up quite as magical as it would in a Disney movie. My favorite tale has always been "The Little Mermaid." She wanted to be something she was not meant to be and for me that is a lesson of how we should be who we really are. She actually ends up not marrying the prince. I quote:
The little mermaid lifted up glorified eyes towards the sun, and felt them, for the first time, filling with tears. On the ship, in which she had left the prince......she saw him and his beautiful bride searching for her; sorrowfully they gazed at the pearly foam, as if they knew she had thrown herself into the waves.
Some of the stories are very moralistic, yet he retains a mischievous sense of humor in some stories. His stories always reflect his fertile imagination. This particular collection was translated by Mrs. H. B. Paull, H. Oskar Sommer, Jean Hersholt and several other unknown translators. Six distinguished artists helped to illustrate this book. These are black and white illustrations and there are not really very many of them. To me a fully illustrated book should be fully illustrated. Nonetheless, this is not a book just for children. In fact, I see this more as a book which should be read to children by their parents.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Magician from the North April 9 1998
It ought to be a source of some astonishment that the writings of Hans Christian Andersen have triumphed over the passage of time as they have. Who is more stolidly nineteenth-century, more bourgeois, more moistly sentimental, than this ever-lonely Danish poet and fabulist? Yet the continuing stream of translations and adaptations of his work--of which Disney's diluted and distorting version of his great "Little Mermaid" is only the most famous recent example--testifies to the ageless qualities of his genius. He often represented himself as the mere mouthpiece of traditional lore, the transmitter of the folk wisdom of his nurses; in our day he is tucked away with Mother Goose rhymes and other noncontroversial literature. Neither mode of understanding fully represents him. He belongs to that remarkable category--small even among great writers--of myth-makers, whose characters have come to assume near-archetypal significance. The little mermaid, the dauntless tin soldier, the ugly duckling are no longer simply memorable: they are continuing analogues for the developing self. He is a writer for children only in the sense that children deserve the best literature. His stories offer nothing easy, and little that is sweet: they puzzle and trouble; they take root in the imagination, and childhood is only the beginning of our long relationship with Andersen's haunting images. Is it joy or sorrow that first makes us weep for Elisa and her unlucky brothers in "The Wild Swans"? Who but Andersen could have dared to make the inanimate fixity of the tin soldier an image of the steadfastness of deep love in adversity? Who could forget the robber girl in "The Snow Queen," gruffly loyal,never sleeping without her knife? Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully embroidered, melancholy tales April 8 1998
By A Customer
Hans Christian Andersen, the famous Danish author, wrote 168 fairy tales and 159 of them are included in this mega-book of his works. They are beautifully embroidered, vastly imaginative stories, with a sweet air of melancholy. They are particularly wonderful to read aloud with lots of lively dialogue that invites the use of funny voices, for those like me given to that sort of parental self-humiliation; talking Christmas trees, grouchy toads, haughty queens and toys with an attitude.
It is ironic that Andersen did not consider his fairy tales very important. He wanted to be a "serious" writer and worked much harder on his real projects; plays, novels, poetry, travel books and autobiographies. Those works are largely forgotten while his fairy tales not only live on, but have permeated our culture. Our thinking and even our speech are peppered with references to his stories. The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid and The Red Shoes come to mind.

Do be forewarned that not all of the stories have happy endings and some are really terribly sad. Andersen did not have an easy life. His father died when he was eleven and his existence was rather joyless for a long time after that. He left home at fourteen and wandered about trying different lines of work unsuccessfully until finally, after years of struggle and hardship, he was noticed by important people and gained acceptance. Perhaps the darker images in his writings spring from his own difficult years.

Oddly enough, my own children are especially intrigued by the sadder tales. In our time, we shelter children so from any tinge of melancholy.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Hardly Complete!
This is an excellent selection of Andersen's best tales, but it is hardly complete! A fresh new translation organised by themes that is fun to read! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Pierre A. Beauchamp
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Tales
Grimms-You call the Best but Hans Anderson, You call it a 'Classic of the classics' coz the beautiful stories lets your imagination go surfing on 'cloud nine' and these tales... Read more
Published on May 6 2004 by Ilaxi S. Patel
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't even bother.
While I'm sure the stories are great, I can't get past the poor type setting, and cheap paper which is practically newsprint. Read more
Published on Nov. 6 2003 by shubunkin
2.0 out of 5 stars Expected Better Quality
Andersen and Grimm are supposed to be classics. While I like having the collection and while the illustrations are very nice - the pages themselves are much closer to... Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a kids book
This is a beautiful book with beautiful stories but I would move it up to the 20+ reading group. I am still baffled about their definition of "fully illustrated". Read more
Published on Dec 30 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a book for young children
I ordered this for my daughter and will be sending it back. It is not "fully illustrated." The reading level is designated as ages 9 to 12. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 1999 by Sharon W. Putman
5.0 out of 5 stars A deleciously delightful book for children at heart
Hans Christian Andersen aretfully spins tales of love, adventure and comedy in this easy to read collection. Read more
Published on April 11 1998 by
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