Read The Princess and the Pea (Favourite Tales) by Hans Christian Andersen Free Online
Book Title: The Princess and the Pea (Favourite Tales)|
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Reader ratings: 6.4
The author of the book: Hans Christian Andersen
Edition: Ladybird Books Ltd
Date of issue: April 1st 1993
ISBN 13: 9780721453880
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.74 MB
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The Princess and the Pea is a famous story from 1835, by Hans Christian Andersen, which has been adapted and retold numerous times. The original is quite short, and clearly satirical and tongue in cheek. Really it is a one-idea story, in which an obviously ridiculous situation is contrived, to test whether a princess is truly a princess. Charles Boner was the first to translate The Princess and the Pea into English, as "The Princess on the Peas" in "A Danish Story-Book" in 1846.
In the story, a prince is having difficulty finding a suitable wife. He suspects that all the candidates are imposters. They cannot truly be princesses, he thinks, because they are not perfect,
"He couldn't quite tell; there was always something that didn't feel right. So he came home very put out, for he did long for a real princess."
One stormy night a young woman, soaked to the skin with rain, asked for shelter in the prince's castle. She claimed to be a real princess, but the prince was dubious. His mother cunningly tested whether she was telling the truth by placing a single pea in the bed they offered the young woman for the night, covering it with twenty mattresses and twenty feather-beds.
The young woman doesn't get a wink of sleep, and complains the next morning that something hard in the bed had kept her awake. The prince, of course, is overjoyed at such clear proof of her pedigree, for,
"They could see that she was a real princess, as she had felt the pea through twenty mattresses and twenty feather-beds."
So the two are married, and live happily ever after.
The pea, the author tells us, is placed in a special Royal museum, where it can still be seen to this very day, unless someone has removed it. "That's a real story!" he concludes.
Hans Christian Andersen wrote a preface to the story, claiming to have heard it in his childhood, but it is not a traditional Danish fairy tale. It is thought that he may instead have heard a Swedish version, "Princess Who Lay on Seven Peas" ("Princessa' som lå' på sju ärter"), about an orphan girl is told by either a cat or a dog that something (a bean, a pea, or a straw) had been placed under her mattress, to test out her identity. In later adaptations, the story is spun out in various ways, such as the bedding being piled higher and higher to make the princess more comfortable before she finally retires for the night.
Some translations miss the final part - about putting the pea in a museum - out, and stress the high sensitivity of the princess instead. But this rather misses the humour of the story. It is a welcome relief to read a jokey story by this author. Even if Hans Christian Andersen was not responsible for originating the tale, he certainly made it popular, and the image of a highbred princess, so sensitive that she feels even a pea under her mattress, has been retained in fairy folklore to this day.
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Read information about the authorHans Christian Andersen (often referred to in Scandinavia as H. C. Andersen; April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875) was a Danish author and poet. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen's popularity is not limited to children; his stories—called eventyr, or "fairy-tales"—express themes that transcend age and nationality.
Andersen's fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West's collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. Some of his most famous fairy tales include "The Little Mermaid", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Nightingale", "The Emperor's New Clothes" and many more. His stories have inspired plays, ballets, and both live-action and animated films.
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