A Hans Christian Andersen paper cut showing four men touching hands and knees two and two
Paper cut by Hans Christian Andersen (No. 16816)

Welcome to Week 3

This week, we are going to study Hans Christian Andersen’s creative work with the folk tale in more detail.

Professor Ivy York Möller-Christensen will introduce you to one of Andersen’s fairy tales which is a rewriting of a folk tale: ‘The Travelling Companion’ (1835). We will compare it to the folk tale called ‘The Riddle’. Like last week, you will get the opportunity to analyse the folk tale and the fairy tale. We’ll use the home-away-home structure and the actantial model and we will focus on Hans Christian Andersen’s special narrative style and language.

Ivy will then raise the question of the function of the folk tale for the users: the narrators and the listeners. This will give us a new perspective on the impact of Hans Christian Andersen’s work with the folk tale.

Finally, we’ll compare ‘The Travelling Companion’ to an earlier rewriting of the same folk tale from the author’s hand: ‘The Spectre’ (1830). ‘The Travelling Companion’ is written in the style we know as Hans Christian Andersen’s while his earlier work is substantially different. Thus, we get the possibility to look Hans Christian Andersen over the shoulder and see what options he has considered and what choices he has made in his writing process.

As you go through this week, here are some questions to bear in mind:

  • Why do you think that Hans Christian Andersen took so much interest in a folk tale like ‘The Riddle’?
  • In what way is he manipulating this kind of tale and why?
  • What characterises Andersen’s rewritings of folk tales?

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This article is from the free online course:

Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales

Hans Christian Andersen Centre