“To begin with, they have a perfection of form that none of the others achieved . . .”
—Hans Christian Andersen: A Great Life in Brief by Rumer Godden
Think of the classic writers we know: Rudyard Kipling, P. L. Travers, J. R. R. Tolkien and Walt Disney.
Sorry, kidding! Walt didn’t write. He illustrated.
Three have given us stories so timeless that centuries later, they take us where they are by our just thinking of them.
“The Mouse said [to the Lion] . . . if you will let me go, perhaps I can help you some day… Remembering his promise, the Mouse began to gnaw the ropes of a net until the Lion could get free . . .” Aesop is credited to have told or wrote this fable. Since then, whenever we see animals together big and small, we think “how precious!”
My favorite writer must have been influenced by the fables.
A statue of his character looks out of the harbor in Copenhagen. “It was very late; yet the little mermaid could not take her eyes from the ship or from the beautiful prince”, Hans Christian Andersen wrote, “. . . when the ship parted, she had seen him sink into the deep waves . . . But he must not die. . . . and he would have died had not the little mermaid come to his assistance . . . The mermaid kissed his high, smooth forehead, and stroked back his wet hair; he seemed to her like the marble statue in her little garden, and she kissed him again, and wished that he might live. . . .”
Andersen was a master storyteller who spun magical worlds that became real for his audience and always stayed in their minds because he knew how to bring his vision to life.
And remember last week I said we would be visiting with Aslan, Lion-hero of Narnia? Well, his “dad” was an Oxford Medieval English literature professor-turned-philosopher.
The voice of Aslan was tender in Prince Caspian.
George Sayer’s biography Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis
“But please, Miss Prizzle, “said Gwendolen, “there’s a LION!” . . .”You’ll stay with us, sweetheart?” said Aslan. “Oh, may I? Thank you, thank you,” said Gwendolen. . . .
All three writers wrote lessons that endure. Why? They wrote about truth. They just wrapped it around magic, that’s all! See? Aslan beckons us and we have to follow, indeed are compelled to, because we want the magic. It makes all the difference. That is why we turn the page.
Who are your favorite classic writers? How do they make you feel?
I look forward to hearing from you. Until next week when we visit with modern writers, stay enchanted.
Blog originally posted in 2012 and refreshed for sharing.