Fairy Tales of Magical Abductions and Sudden Coups: “The Blue Light” and “The Tinderbox”

Hans Christian Andersen is primarily known for his original fairy tales, which borrowed images from the stories told to him by his grandmother and other elderly people in childhood, but used their own plots and characters. But from time to time, he also worked with existing fairy tales, adding his own touches to both obscure and better known tales, as in his story, “The Tinder Box,” one of his very first published fairy tales, based on a tale so well known that the Brothers Grimm also collected a version, “The Blue Light,” making this one of the few fairy tales to be both a Grimm and Andersen tale.

The Grimms told their version first, publishing it in the second volume of their first edition of Children’s and Household Tales in 1815 and then, in typical Grimm fashion, rewriting and expanding the tale in later editions. (Most online English translations tend ...