H. C. Andersen, Literature, and Ethics: New Perspectives on Old Stories

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We all know H. C. Andersen as the writer of wonderful and enchanting stories. Many people have also pointed to H. C. Andersen as a writer that touches on ethical issues, such as the critique of hypocrisy and blind allegiance to authority in The Emperor’s New Clothes (Kejserens nye Klæder). In this article, we want to pick up on this last point and argue that ethical reflection is an integrated part of many of H. C. Andersen’s stories, and that this reflection often takes a form that is directed at moral education and development. This article has two major parts. In the first, we open with an argument for the role of literature in moral development, and then move on to argue for the special status of H. C. Andersen’s stories within this field. In the second part, we present new readings of three well-known fairy tales, The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep (Hyrdinden og Skorstensfejeren), The Swineherd (Svinedrengen), and The Little Match Girl (Den lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne) with the aim of showing how reading these stories from an ethical perspective opens up new dimensions of H. C. Andersen’s magic work.
TidsskriftForum for World Literature Studies
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)194-208
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2019


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