Présentation de l'éditeur
"Thumbelina" (Danish: Tommelise) is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen first published by C. A. Reitzel on 16 December 1835 in Copenhagen, Denmark with "The Naughty Boy" and "The Traveling Companion" in the second installment of Fairy Tales Told for Children. "Thumbelina" is about a tiny girl and her adventures with appearance- and marriage-minded toads, moles, and cockchafers. She successfully avoids their intentions before falling in love with a flower-fairy prince just her size. "Thumbelina" is chiefly Andersen's invention, though he did take inspiration from tales of miniature people such as "Tom Thumb". "Thumbelina" was published as one of a series of seven fairy tales in 1835 which were not well received by the Danish critics who disliked their informal style and their lack of morals. One critic, however, applauded "Thumbelina". The earliest English translation of "Thumbelina" is dated 1846. The tale has been adapted to various media including song and animated film. Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark on 2 April 1805 to Hans Andersen, a shoemaker, and Anne Marie Andersdatter. An only and a spoiled child, Andersen shared a love of literature with his father who read him The Arabian Nights and the fables of Jean de la Fontaine. Together, they constructed panoramas, pop-up pictures, and toy theatres, and took long jaunts into the countryside. Andersen's father died in 1816, and from then on, Andersen was left to his own devices. In order to escape his poor, illiterate mother, he promoted his artistic inclinations and courted the cultured middle class of Odense, singing and reciting in their drawing-rooms. On 4 September 1819, the fourteen-year-old Andersen left Odense for Copenhagen with the few savings he had acquired from his performances, a letter of reference to the ballerina Madame Schall, and youthful dreams and intentions of becoming a poet or an actor. After three years of rejections and disappointments, he finally found a patron in Jonas Collin, the director of the Royal Theatre, who, believing in the boy's potential, secured funds from the king to send Andersen to a grammar school in Slagelse, a provincial town in west Zealand, with the expectation that the boy would continue his education at Copenhagen University at the appropriate time. At Slagelse, Andersen fell under the tutelage of Simon Meisling, a short, stout, balding thirty-five-year-old classicist and translator of Virgil's Aeneid. Andersen was not the quickest student in the class and was given generous doses of Meisling's contempt. "You're a stupid boy who will never make it," Meisling told him. Meisling is believed to be the model for the learned mole in "Thumbelina". Fairy tale and folklorists Iona and Peter Opie have proposed the tale as a "distant tribute" to Andersen's confidante, Henriette Wulff, the small, frail, hunchbacked daughter of the Danish translator of Shakespeare who loved Andersen as Thumbelina loves the swallow; however, no written evidence exists to support the theory.
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