Josefine Ottesen (English site)

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H C Andersen new renderings

The Snow Queen
The Sweethearts (aka The Top and the Ball) and other stories
The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf
The Dung Beetle and other stories

Alrune, 2004

Extract from The Dung Beetle
Author's comments

The Snow Queen:

And so the Snow Queen rushed off and Kay sat rather alone in the miles-long ice hall. He looked at the pieces of ice and thought and thought so much that his brain creaked. He sat so still and stiff that one would think he'd frozen to death.
Then little Gerda came into the palace through the great doorway made by the cutting winds but she made her evening prayer and the winds dropped as if for to sleep.



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The Sweethearts (aka The Top and the Ball)
and other stories:


Containing the following stories:
The Teapot
The Sweethearts
The Darning Needle
The Shirt-Collar



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The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf:


So Inger put on her best clothes and her new shoes. When on the road, she lifted her skirt so it wouldn't get dirty and she was very careful about where she stepped with her finely-shod feet, and there was nothing wrong in that. When she came to a place where the path went through a swampy area, she threw the loaf down in the mud, so she could step on it and get across without muddying her shoes.
But when she stepped out on to the bread, it sank into the mud, deeper and deeper, taking little Inger with it. She was sucked down and down and soon there was nothing else to be seen except the bubbles on the black bog.



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The Dung Beetle and other stories:


Containing the following stories:
The Dung Beetle
The Butterfly
The Drop of Water



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Extract from The Dung Beetle:

The Emperor's horse was shod with gold; gold shoes on each foot. Why did he get gold shoes?
He was the loveliest of animals, with his fine legs, wise eyes and a mane that hung like a silk scarf around his neck. Through the haze of gunpowder and hails of bullets, he had borne his master while the bullets sang and whined. He had bitten and struck and fought all around him when the enemy came close. With one leap over the enemy's horse, he had rescued his Emperor's crown of red gold. In this way, he had saved his Emperor's life, which was worth more than the red gold. That's why the Emperor's horse was shod with gold; gold shoes on each foot.
Then the dung-beetle crept out. "First the big ones, then the small ones," it said. "Size is not so important." And so he stretched out his thin legs.
"What do you want?" asked the blacksmith.
"Gold shoes!" replied the beetle.
"You're can't be quite right in the head," said the blacksmith. "Do you also want gold shoes?"
"Gold shoes!" said the dung-beetle again. "Am I not as good as that great beast, that shall be waited on, groomed, cared for, fed and watered? Don't I also belong to the Emperor's stable?"
"And why do you think the Emperor's horse got gold shoes?" asked the smith. "Don't you understand anything?"
"Understand! I understand alright when I'm being treated with contempt," said the beetle. "It's an insult! Now I'm off out into the wide world."
"Get lost!" said the blacksmith.
"Such a common man!" said the beetle, and off out it went, flew a little way and arrived at a delightful little flower garden, where there was a scent of roses and lavender.



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Author's comments:

As a child, I didn't much care for Hans Christian Andersen's stories and fairy tales. I found many of them alarming and dangerous, but, as an adult, I still have to acknowledge that it is his tales in particular that are among those that have had the greatest influence on me as an author.
So it was with great pleasure that I agreed to retell a number of his stories for Alrune - not least because I was allowed to choose for myself which of his many good tales I would dive into!
My starting point has been to make Hans Christian Andersen's fantastic stories more easily accessible without losing his characteristic tone and language, and I am personally quite pleased with the result.

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