Study Guide

Andersen's Fairy Tales Art and Culture

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Art and Culture

What's the deal with Andersen's obvious interest in art? There's a ton of art in Andersen's stories, from poetry to sculpture and music. There're a lot of artist characters too. We think there are two reasons for these tales being so arty farty. First, art is inspired by all of Andersen's characters favorite things: nature, human beauty, and by God. And second, Andersen was, obviously, an artist himself. And, as he knew all too well, being an artist has a bunch of pros and cons. For one, art doesn't always pay the bills. You have to convince people that your art is worth their money, time, and patronage. On the flip side, to not create art when you've got a gift for it seems like a waste of inspiriation, and, thereby, a waste of one's supposedly God-given talents. Oh, and one more thing: Andersen seems to think you shouldn't just do art for the fame. You have to believe in it. Wow, this whole "art" thing is turning out to be pretty complicated.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. What are some of Andersen's non-human characters that are involved with art? What kind of art do they do, and what is the importance of art in these stories?
  2. Which tales present a view on art that you agree or disagree with? Why?
  3. How would you describe the relationship between art and religion in the tales?
  4. If you could watch Andersen having a conversation with another artist of your choice, dead or living, who would it be? Why?

Chew on This

Either you've got it or you don't: there's no way to fake being an artist.

Andersen's tales portray more dude artists than chick artists because he was sexist, like most people of his day and age.

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