This chapter begins with an introduction to Hans Christian Andersen. Following that are sections on three of his tales: "The Snow Queen," "The Emperor's New Clothes," and "The Princess on the Pea." These three are bundled together in this chapter because we don't have enough material on them to devote a chapter to each. There are no summaries of critical interpretations for "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "The Princess on the Pea" because we haven't found any extensive enough to mention. The two other Andersen tales included in this book, "The Litde Mermaid" and "The Wild Swans," appear in separate chapters.
Hans Christian Andersen is by far the most famous writer of literary fairy tales. "Beauty and the Beast" is more widely known than any of the Andersen tales, has inspired more retellings and reworkings, and has received more analytical attention, but Madame de Villeneuve, who wrote the tale, and Madame de Beaumont, who retold it in its canonical version, are hardly household names. Hans Christian Andersen, on the other hand, is as synonymous with fairy tales as the Brothers Grimm. His stories are included as a matter of course in fairy tale collections. The common assumption is that his fairy tales are the same kind of story as those of the Grimms and Perrault: folktales from the oral tradition retold by a particularly gifted writer. In fact, only a very small number of Andersen's 156 tales are folktales retold. The rest, including some of the most famous, like "The Little Mermaid" and the "Snow Queen," are his own inventions. Nor are they all fairy tales in the narrow sense of wonder tales. "The Ugly Duckling," for example, is really a fable. Andersen stories mix the folktale forms of the wonder tale, folk tale, local legend, and fable with the literary elements of satire and irony in a way so uniquely his own that they have become a genre in themselves.