The Brave Tin Soldier

The Brave Tin Soldier - Hans Christian Anderson

One of the things I really like is how reading leads to writing, which leads to more reading and connected reading, and more writing. Another thing I really like is learning from my two daughters who are doing different version of arts and literature degrees at the moment, re-discovering things I haven’t read for a long time with them and having new things revealed.

This week one is reading the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales and I dipped into the book sitting on the front steps in the Autumn sunshine and read pretty much at random. One story I’d never read before, and struck me powerfully, was The Brave Tin Soldier or the ‘resolute’ tin soldier in the version I read.

The story contains such powerful and archetypal images, the disfigured soldier, the beautiful twin-other, the journey into liquid darkness, being swallowed by a fish, a troll in a box, transfiguration by fire etc. that I was amazed that so much could be contained and compressed in such a short time. It was almost too much.

I’ve just begun reading Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, and his work on the intimate space that is the house, the image of the hermit hut, the light in the window, the sprinkled lights from a village in the distance like a constellation, the first steps to the attic, I’ve found connected to some of the images I’ve held dear for a long time. I spend half the time reading and half the time double-underlining in pencil. I’ll certainly post more on text later, but those key and elemental images, in Bachelard and in the Anderson story, seem so powerful that they are somehow beyond cognition.

And I enjoyed this (1940s?) cartoon version on youtube too!


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