The Snow Queen

A friend mentioned ‘The Snow Queen’, and it suddenly took me back to before I had read the story but when I heard it on the radio. The story was written by Hans Christian Anderson – and there is this wonderful idea that his stories were cosy fairy tales with happy endings of ordinary people meeting princes and princesses and with love at first sight a lifetime of happiness was guaranteed. What I hear as a child was so scary, just the mention of The Snow Queen’ vividly brought back memories of being scared almost witless by what happened to Kai – although, thankfully, I also remember how Gerda rescues him.

It was first published in 1844 and starts off (as I remember it) with Gerda and Kai living next door to each other. Although as a child I knew no buildings like this, I could easily imagine the high garrets in which they lived, and how they could visit each other by walking along the vegetable and roses planted in boxes set in the gutters – a a magical idea for a child!! I can’t quite remember all the ins and outs, but a mirror splinters and a fragment enters Kai’s eye – how awful and horrid for a children’s fairy tale! This is all due to the Snow Queen who then is able to trick poor Kai and take him away on her sleigh. This has shades of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,’

I think ‘The Snow Queen’ is now largely forgotten, but those images from my early childhood of two neighbouring children, walking across the window boxes to each other, and then the splinter of ice piercing a a young boy’s eye is actually truly horrific!!

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