Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

I decided to re-read the fairy story The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen for the Literary Christmas Challenge.  The original story was published in New Fairy Tales in December 1844.  I loved this story as a child and I found a copy in my local library with beautiful illustrations by P J Lynch.  I have a fascination with the culture and traditions of the Far North so this book seemed to be very appropriate.

The story in my book was retold from the original English version by Caroline Peachey.  The structure of the story is simple but effective following Gerda in her search for her friend Kay.  The illustrations are superb especially the drawings of the Snow Queen showing her as beautiful but cold and terrifying.  I particularly liked the picture of Gerda riding through the forest on the back of the reindeer with the sky illuminated by the Northern Lights.

The Snow Queen contains all the ingredients of a traditional fairy story. There are two children, one of whom is captured by a wicked queen.  The other child goes in search of her friend, being helped along the journey by animals and birds who can speak. She meets an enchantress in a forest and is captured by robbers but helped to escape by the robber-maiden. This is a story of good and evil - the love of Gerda for her friend overcoming the evil which lodged in his heart when it was pierced by a splinter from a magic mirror.  The story has a happy ending as Kay and Gerda return home to find they are now grown up but are "yet children at heart - and it was summer, beautiful warm summer".
I didn't realise there was such an overtly religious dimension to this story with a refrain which is repeated throughout the book
"Our roses bloom and fad away,
Our infant Lord abides alway;
May we be blessed His face to see,
And ever little children be."

I'm sure it is possible to analyse this story in greater depth but I think I will leave it there - I enjoyed being transported back to a favourite tale of my childhood.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent wintry reading choice! I read The Snow Queen for the first time just over a year ago, and certainly enjoyed it.