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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Note: The version of The Snow Queen that I am reviewing is from an early 1900's book of Andersen's Fairy Tales that I have - thus, the "original" version.
The Snow Queen, a fairy tale by celebrated children's writer Hans Christian Andersen, is a light, somewhat interesting make-believe story. This work, like most of Andersen's other pieces, brings magical happenings into "real life" and is not set in a mystical land.
The story begins with the account of a wicked goblin who makes a mirror which makes everything pretty look awful. While using this mirror one day he accidentally drops it, and it breaks into many tiny pieces which scatter all over the world. If anyone should get a piece of the glass in his eye, everything would look terrible; and if the shard penetrated to his heart, the organ would soon turn into a lump of ice.
The next thing that we see in the story is a little boy named Kay and a little girl named Gerda playing together in a rose garden. They are best friends, and they both adore each other. However, two of the shards of glass from the goblin's mirror that were floating about in the air get into Kay's eye, and one of them goes straight to his heart, which will now soon turn to a lump of ice. Kay suddenly perceives Gerda, the roses, and other things as looking dreadful. After this he does not like to play with Gerda anymore, and prefers to be by himself.
One day as he is riding his sledge, he meets up with the icy Snow Queen who is riding along in her own sledge. He follows her back to her palace, which is all pure ice. The Snow Queen then gives him a word puzzle to solve, saying that if he could find the word "eternity" that he would be free to leave her palace. Gerda, meanwhile, is very upset that her little friend is gone. By chance she gets into a boat, which happens to come free of its tethers to the shore and is swept away by the current downstream. Finding herself thus carried away from her town, she resolves to find Kay. Through a series of strange events, including and meeting up with an old witch, a prince, and robbers, she finally makes her way to the Snow Queen's palace. The Snow Queen is conveniently out, and so Gerda finds Kay sitting there all alone, his heart almost a lump of ice. He does not recognize or even seem to see her; however, she bursts into tears, and the warm tears go to his heart and melt the bit of mirror that was there. He then bursts into tears as well, and washes away the shard that was in his eye. All traces of the mirror now gone, he wakes up as if from a dream. He looks over at the word puzzle that the Snow Queen has left for him to solve, and finds that it has solved itself and spelled "eternity." Now free to leave the palace, Kay and Gerda go back to the town together. They forget all that has happened, and sit in the beautiful sun of summer together.
This story is an average make believe story, with the traditional fairy-tale account of someone being taken away and another person having to come to their rescue. Usually an evil being is the one who snatches a noble person away. This tale, however, does not make clear who exactly the villain is. Kay and Gerda are, of course, the "good" people, and the goblin is most obviously "bad." However, the story leaves you wondering exactly which side the Snow Queen is on. She takes Kay away causing Gerda and the rest of the townspeople to grieve; yet she does not harm or be mean to him in any way. She seems not to serve any real purpose in the story except that of a diversion, a convenient way for Kay to be gone so that Gerda can come and rescue him. This pointlessness in the Snow Queen's existence is a significant flaw in Andersen's writing, as this discrepancy leaves you feeling slightly perplexed at the end of the story.
The story is also somewhat monotonous at times, and especially tedious is the pages long account of the flowers' stories. The incident with the robbers provides a bit of excitement, and younger children might think that the encounters with the prince & princess and Gerda's risky journey are exciting as well. For the most part, though, this story lacks much-needed liveliness. I had predicted and looked forward to a final showdown with the Snow Queen; however, to my disappointment, there was none.
The Snow Queen was for the most part a cute - if rather unremarkable - fairy tale. Even though this particular make-believe chronicle of Andersen's is one of his better known works, the story lacks the vivacity that makes Andersen's other compositions so charming. Also unlike other of Andersen's characteristic tales, this story has almost no moral value - besides the common "good triumphs over evil" theme. In comparison to the vast horde of fairy tales ever written, this piece was quite average; however, in comparison to Andersen's other works it is rather feeble. I give The Snow Queen two and a half out of five stars. Keeping in mind that this is a children's story, it is to some extent an adventuresome tale that any child under seven will probably find interesting. Older children, though, might want to pass by this one and pick up another of Andersen's fairy tales - one that is both exhilarating and that has a wholesome moral lesson.
12 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
E. R. Bird
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I once read an article in Horn Book Magazine (a review source of titles and articles on children's literature) that lamented the millions of poor translations of Hans Christian Andersen polluting the minds of our young people today. The review mentioned that stories like, "The Snow Queen", which were originally written in a snappy vernacular, have been dumbed down and drained of all energy by their American translators. With this idea fresh in my mind I found myself in possession of a very particular copy of "The Snow Queen" and I was able to test this theory myself. Now due to the wacky nature of Amazon.com, the website has lumped together the reviews of every single version of this Anderson story. You will see that some of the reviews refer to Nilesh Mistry's, some refer to the audio book, some to Eileen Kernaghan's, and some (God help us all) to Mary Engelbreit. None of these, however, are the version that I am reviewing. After careful consideration, I selected the edition retold by Amy Ehrlich and illustrated by Susan Jeffers. The Ehrlich/Jeffers team has banded together to bring us every fairy tale from Thumbelina to Cinderella. With this 1982 classic edition, they bring all the creepy and crawly elements of Andersen's riveting tale to a kind of tame middlebrow life.
Most people don't remember that "The Snow Queen" begins when the devil creates a mirror that reflects everything good as bad. By a quirk of fate the mirror is smashed one day (the details of this accident are left unclear) and the tiny pieces go spinning into the atmosphere. If these splinters enter your eye, everything will look ugly to you. If they enter your heart, it will turn instantly to ice. Got it? Good. Cause sure enough, two small pieces enter the eye and the heart of a boy named Kai. When this happens he stops playing with his best playmate Gerta and instead falls under the seductive spell of the mysterious and magnificently pale Snow Queen. Gerta goes in search of her friend but is waylaid by a variety of different adventures. She escapes an overly loving old witch, is taken in by a prince and princess, falls into the power of a thief girl and her kin, and at last saves Kai from the Snow Queen herself. By the end of the book, neither kid is a child any longer and their home is just as they left it.
Obviously "The Snow Queen" is one big ole story about growing up. The idea of the devil's mirror causing someone to despise anything they see and grow a suddenly cold heart... well that's just another way of describing adolescence, is it not? Andersen obviously borrowed quite a lot from that classic old tale, "East of the Sun, West of the Moon", in which another girl goes off to save the man she loves from the machinations of a wicked woman. Heck, "Tam Lin" was probably an influence as well. The best version of this particular story I ever read was by Kara Dalkey. It was a tale named, "The Lady of the Ice Garden" and can be found in "Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Science Fiction and Fantasy". It is not, however, appropriate for children. Kids today will probably look at "The Snow Queen" and instantly think of the White Witch from "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". I cannot think, however, that this is a bad thing.
As for the Jeffers/Ehrlich version, it's all right. As an illustrator, Jeffers has apparently decided to make Kai and Gerta definitely children. I guess that lowers the creepiness factor when the Snow Queen lures the boy to her sleigh and wraps him in her furs. Jeffers really captures beautifully every diamond in the Snow Queen's dress and every strand of her white white hair. There is the odd stylistic choice here and there, though. When Gerta surprises the prince and princess in their bed, it is not your typical mattress affair but rather large his and her flower petals. I can't think that they're comfortable (or even particularly practical). The illustrations have been created, according to the book, "using a fine-line pen with ink and dyes. They were applied over a detailed pencil drawing that was then erased". As a result, the book is as soft as a colored pencil, but with a level of detail and intricacy normally associated with pen and ink.
Obviously I don't know enough about the original version of "The Snow Queen" (or, as Andersen called it, "Sneedronningen") to know whether or not this book is a worthy version to read to your tots. At any rate, it tells the full story, warts and all, and will provide them with what may well be the most Freudian-toned fairy tale ever to grace their little brains. A fun edition of a rather odd tale.