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The Ugly Duckling's Legacy: Adulteration, Contemporary Fantasy, and the Dark

From: Marvels & Tales
Volume 20, Number 2, 2006
pp. 193-207 | 10.1353/mat.2007.0019


This essay surveys recent retellings by fantasy writers for children and adults of Hans Christian Andersen's stories. Tales that have inspired multiple versions include "The Snow Queen," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf." Although the "darkness" of Hans Christian Andersen is often said to be inappropriate for children, this essay investigates the extent to which this is true in writers' commentary on the tales as well as how they reframe "dark" issues in their own work. Contemporary writers continue to explore Andersen's Romantic themes of individuals' struggle to survive and create art despite catastrophe and the indifference of Nature and society to personal pleasure.

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