The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

You all should be familiar with The Little Mermaid as told by Hans Christian Andersen. Not the Disney version—that story tells a very different tale. But if you aren’t, I strongly suggest you read Andersen’s version. It takes only a few minutes to get through. There are several incredible moments of learning and wonder, of full-on poignancy and heartache for the littlest princess. Those moments make her story a timeless treasure.

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

One of my favorite parts of his story reads:

“Why have we not an immortal soul?… I would give gladly all the hundreds of years that I have to live, to be a human being only for one day, and to have the hope of knowing the happiness of that glorious world above the stars.”

Andersen’s innocent mermaid princess isn’t just mesmerized by mankind—she’s enraptured by it. The snow-topped mountains. The expansive array of the sun’s fiery hues in the sky. The creatures of flight that soar on the winds sighing through the trees. The little mermaid is desperate to have a soul of her own so that she might earn an eternal home in the kingdom of God.

Or that’s how I interpreted it, anyway.

There are several heavy-hearted themes in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale. For instance, absence of a meaningful existence, sorrow, desperate dealings with the Devil (the sea witch), hard-earned lessons, suicide, purgatory, redemption. For being such a short story, the subject matter digs deep. And it does dig deep. So be prepared. Because the little mermaid will haunt you. After all, hers is a story that’s remained with me since I first read her tale as a little girl.

If you’re looking for other mainstream reads centered on younger protagonists, I recommend The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The author, Mark Haddon, has a few parallels to Hans Christian Andersen’s background.

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