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The Little Mermaid

Renowned Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen's tale 'The Little Mermaid' is as endearing now as when it was first written. The mermaid can become part of “the celestial world”, if a human being loves her. The sea witch cuts her tongue out in return for helping her to get rid of the fish tail. The little mermaid then saves the prince but, as she can only speak to him with her eyes and movements, it is not possible for her to gain his love. She chooses not to become a mermaid again by killing the prince but instead becomes one of the daughters of the air, able to create an immortal soul by doing good deeds. It is going to take three hundred years, but well behaved children who listen to her story can cut short her tribulations. The fairytale is inspired by verbal folk literature and by contemporary writing. Undine' (1811), by German author Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, is cited as the source for the mermaid’s longing for an immortal soul and her disintegration in the waves. The Danish Literature Canon Committee has prepared the texts published in reprint from the Ministry of Culture’s magazine Kulturkontakten in January 2006. The English translation is by Vibeke Cranfield.