Home  »  The Short-Story: Specimens Illustrating Its Development  »  Notes to The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Brander Matthews (1852–1929).  The Short-Story.  1907.

By Hans Christian Andersen  (1805–1875)

Notes to The Steadfast Tin Soldier

ANDERSEN’S fairy tales have the quaintness, the simplicity, the naturalness, of the primitive folk story, with a humor, a pleasant irony of their own. He was a born story-teller, and there are a dozen little masterpieces to be selected from his several collections. The “Steadfast Tin Soldier” is one of the earliest as it is one of the best. It was published in 1835, when its author was already a full-grown man,—but a man who had preserved the power to see the world as a little child sees it.
This is an apologue, a fable, a parable, if we so choose to take it. But it is real also, however fanciful the invention. It has the childlike ingenuousness of the folk-tale, so rarely caught by writers who have forgotten how they felt when they were young. A large part of the effectiveness of the story is due to the certainty with which the author keeps to the chosen key.