Andersen's Fairy Tales
by Andersen, Hans Christian
Andersen's Fairy Tales Foreignness and "The Other" Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Tale Title.Paragraph)
A Negro sits on the marble stairs of a palace in the capital of Portugal; the dark-skinned man mumbles pleading words to passers-by. He is Camoëns' faithful slave. (The Thorny Path)
This story, "The Thorny Path," was published in 1862, so that was before the U.S. had abolished slavery; Denmark, where Andersen was writing from, had abolished the slave trade even earlier. In any case, we doubt that this slave had a whole lot of choice in being "faithful" to his masters—save getting brutally beaten, killed, or (if we're going to be optimistic) managing to escape.
Years later in one of the more modest homes in a small town in Jutland, there was a poor servant of the Jewish faith. Her name was Sara. Her hair was as black as ebony, and her eyes shone with the brilliance and luster of a daughter of the Orient. (The Servant.7)
Why are we mixing our cultural stereotypes here? I'm confused. Also, newsflash to Andersen: not all Jewish people have ebony-black, lustrous hair, and all "daughters of the Orient" probably don't have googly, hologram type eyes either.
The story had taken place a long time ago. It was about a Hungarian who had been captured by a Turk: a pasha of such cruelty that he had ordered that the poor knight be treated as a beast of burden; and like a horse or a mule, the Hungarian had been hitched in front of a plow and driven forward with curses and the lash of a whip. (The Servant.11)
Eek. We doubt that actual Turkish people are, or even were, into making foreigners act like horses. But, ya know, Ye Olde Exotic Orient Is Exotic (in Andersen's head, at least).