E-book: Hans Christian Andersen - The Princess and the Pea

E-book: Hans Christian Andersen - The Princess and the Pea
No collection of fairy tales would be complete without the works of the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. In fact, Andersen's life was like a fairy tale in many ways. Out of the poverty, hardship, and loneliness of his youth, he came to be one of the most honored men of his time. Many of the more than 160 fairy tales he wrote, including "The Ugly Duckling," "The Princess and the Pea," and "The Little Mermaid," have become literary classics enjoyed by children and adults alike.Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, in Odense, Denmark. His parents were poor; his father worked as a shoemaker and his mother was a washerwoman. His father, who died when Andersen was 11, entertained him with old Danish legends and stories from The Arabian Nights.The people of Odense never knew what to make of the tall, awkward boy. When he recited long passages from plays or did a clumsy dance or insisted on singing, they could hardly help laughing. Everyone advised him to learn a trade, but this he would not do. He was forever saying that he was going to be famous.In 1819, Andersen moved to the capital city of Copenhagen, where he hoped to become an actor in the Royal Theater. Many people of the theater and wealthy families of the city tried to help him, without much success. His dancing master gave up, and so did his singing teacher. Directors of the Royal Theater sympathized with his efforts to write plays but finally concluded that Andersen needed an education. One of the directors raised money to send him away to school. The next few years were the unhappiest of his life. Andersen was much older than the other students, and the schoolmaster found endless ways to make fun of him. Finally when word of Andersen's plight reached his benefactors in Copenhagen, he was removed from the school and put into the hands of a private tutor. He later attended and graduated from Copenhagen University.After his schooling, Andersen spent many years traveling and writing poems, books, and plays, which met with some success. It was not until he was 30 that he wrote any fairy tales. His first small book of fairy tales became popular almost immediately, and from then on his fame grew rapidly, spreading from country to country.Andersen put many pieces of his own life into his fairy tales. He never forgot that his mother as a young girl had been forced to go begging. This led him to write "The Little Match Girl," a story full of compassion for the unfortunate ones of this Earth. And his own personal experiences are reflected in "The Ugly Duckling," which points out that sometimes the qualities that make you feel lonely, different, and out of place are the very qualities that, when properly used, can make you shine.In 1867 he returned to Odense to be honored by his country. Standing on the balcony of the hall where the ceremony was held, he saw below him the city square, full of people who cheered him, and bright with thousands of candles burning in the windows of all the buildings. Andersen published his last fairy tales in 1872, and after a long illness, he died in Copenhagen on August 4, 1875.SHORT STORY:The Princess and the Pea Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she would have to be a real princess. He travelled all over the world to find one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted. There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be. So he came home again and was sad, for he would have liked very much to have a real princess. One evening a terrible storm came on; there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down in torrents. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the city gate, and the old king went to open it.It was a princess standing out there in front of the gate. But, good gracious! what a sight the rain and the wind had made her look. The water ran down from her hair and clothes; it ran down into the toes of her shoes and out again at the heels. And yet she said that she was a real princess.“Well, we’ll soon find that out,” thought the old queen. But she said nothing, went into the bed-room, took all the bedding off the bedstead, and laid a pea on the bottom; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on the pea, and then twenty eider-down beds on top of the mattresses.On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept.“Oh, very badly!” said she. “I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It’s horrible!”Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds.Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it.There, that is a true story. ANN.Az

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