The back cover of Little Black Classic No. 23, Tinderbox by Hans Christian Andersen, references that the contained fairy tales "propelled their troubled author to international fame and revolutionized children's writing." This struck me as odd in that it doesn't speak to the content, to the beauty of these sometimes strange and occasionally brutal stories.
I enjoyed reading all of these this afternoon but especially delighted in "The Nightingale," a favorite since childhood that I always interpreted as nature portrayed as superior to any artificially created beauty no matter how opulent. A beauty so fierce and powerful that it is capable of taming Death itself.
“Death continued to stare at the emperor with his cold, hollow eyes, and the room was fearfully still. Suddenly there came through the open window the sound of sweet music. Outside, on the bough of a tree, sat the living nightingale. She had heard of the emperor’s illness, and was therefore come to sing to him of hope and trust. And as she sung, the shadows grew paler and paler; the blood in the emperor’s veins flowed more rapidly, and gave life to his weak limbs; and even Death himself listened, and said, ‘Go on, little nightingale, go on.’”
"To sing to him of hope and trust." Despite the fact that she had been wronged by the emperor. A selfless act of giving. I know what the literary lore says about the origin story for this tale about the "troubled author's" unrequited love, but I prefer to ignore this and let it stand on its own. In all its bittersweet loveliness.