Thursday, December 13, 2012

Not Quite a Classic

A long-lost early short story by Hans Christian Andersen has been unearthed in Denmark, shedding some light on the thought processes that might have preceded his rise to fame as a writer of fairy tales. 'The Tallow Candle', as it is called, reads more like an essay of an earnest schoolboy ( I recall that we were often asked to write essays along the lines of 'One day in the life of a rupee note'  or "A day in the life of a post card'.)

Here is an excerpt:
"It sizzled and fizzled as the flames fired the cauldron.. it was the Tallow Candle’s cradle - and out of the warm cradle came a flawless candle; solid, shining white and slim, it was formed in a way that made everyone who saw it believe that it was a promise of a bright and radiant future – promises that everyone who looked on believed it would really want to keep and fulfil.
The sheep – a fine little sheep – was the candle’s mother, and the melting pot its father. Its mother had given it a shiny white body and an inkling about life, but from its father it had been given a craving for the flaming fire that would eventually go through its marrow and bone and shine for it in life.
That’s how it was born and had grown; and with the best and brightest anticipation cast itself into existence."

To read the complete tale, go to

On a side note, I wasn't quite sure of what 'tallow' meant until I looked it up. I knew it was some sort of solid fat, but didn't realize that it is actually rendered animal fat that is used primarily in cosmetics and specialty cooking, these days. That would explain the reference to the sheep being the 'mother' of the candle.

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