Happy birthday Hans Christian Andersen! The Danish author was a writer of plays, poems, and short stories but he is best remembered today for his collection of fairy tales, of which he wrote over 3381. Famous fairy tales he have wrote you should be familiar with: The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, and Thumbelina. However, he wrote many more beyond those and they’ve sadly faded from the public eye. Here at five of Andersen’s more obscure fairy stale, all strange and wonderful.
5. ‘On the Last Day’
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On the Last Day is a dark and surreal story about what one man witnesses after death. As the man follows Death into the afterlife, he witnesses strange and dream-like events. These include: a masquerade ball where animals poke out from beneath people’s clothing, black birds screaming at the man as he walks, and stones that cut his feet no matter where he runs. Eventually, the man figures out he is being punished for his wicked deeds in life and is shown forgiveness, allowed into the gates of Heaven.
4. ‘The Tinderbox’
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In this story, a solider runs across an old witch as he returns home from war. The witch tells if he climbs a tree he will be rich, which he does and finds three chests guard by three different dogs. The witch gives him an apron for each dog and tells him if he places the dogs upon it, he will be able to pass by without being attacked. The soldier succeeds and finds a tinderbox among the chests. The witch refuses to tell him what it’s for and the soldier kills her. He lives in luxury for sometime with the riches in the chests, until his money runs out. The soldier strikes the tinderbox in frustration and discovers he can summon the dogs with it to do his bidding.
He uses the dogs to kidnap the princess but the queen finds out and sentences him to the gallows. Before being hanged, the soldier uses an excuse for a smoke to strike the tinderbox three times and the dogs appear, massacring the queen’s men. The soldier is proclaimed the new king and a feast ensues, the solider lording over his new position as his loyal dogs watch the kingdom’s people warningly.
3. ‘The Wicked Prince’
The Wicked Prince tells of a titular evil and selfish prince who is so bent on conquering the world that he turns to great evil to accomplish his dream. He sends out his army across the world, as they ravage everything in their path, destroying cities, villages, homes, everything in their way. The prince absorbs kingdoms into his empire and attains so much wealth and glory that he becomes master of the world. But he still isn’t satisfied and decides to conquer Heaven itself. He builds a giant ship, which is pulled by hundreds of eagles and flies toward the sun.
An angel appears and the prince opens fire on it but the bullets deflect and one drop of the angel’s blood smashes a hole in the ship, sending it crashing into the forest. The prince survives and builds a new army of ships but the angels send a swarm of gnats against him. The gnat bites his ear and the pain drives the prince mad. He goes insane and is mocked by his own men, the great prince conquered by an insect.
2. ‘The Garden of Paradise’
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A prince gets caught in a storm and takes shelter in a cavern. Inside, he finds a woman so strong and large she resembles a man. Her daughters arrive, pulled along by the Four Winds. The East Wind takes the prince to the Garden of Paradise, where a fairy tells the prince that she may not be touched. But he will be allowed to live there for 100 years if he resists the temptation to kiss her.
On the very first night, the fairy tempts the man and he realizes an eternity of suffering is worth a moment of bliss, he gives in and kisses her. The prince returns to Earth, now condemned to wander forever to atone for his sin.
1. ‘The Traveling Companion’
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This tale tells the story of a young wandering the world after his father has passed away. The man meets a mysterious stranger who becomes his traveling companion and they have a number of adventures together. Eventually, he sees the most beautiful princess in the world and falls in love with her, despite the little fact that she’s a complete psychotic murderer. If he fails to tell her what she’s thinking in three days, the princess will kill him. The prince goes through many trials to give her heart but manages to eventually tell her what she’s thinking of: a severed head! The prince is then instructed of how to cure her evil curse that makes her psychotic by his traveling companion and lives happily ever after with his new wife.
What are some of your favorite Hans Christian Andersen stories? Let us know! And happy birthday again to Andersen!
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