Review of “Little Claus and Big Claus” (1835)
Hans Christian Andersen (writer).
Read in 2020.
Poorly received by its initial reviewers, for its grotesquerie and ambiguous moral. To me it seems a strong example of Andersen’s art: Flat characters, trickery, fantasies, absurdities and reversals of fortune, with an intelligent foundation. Big Claus, the richer man who likes to hear a psalm, is obviously the villain. Indeed, other people actually perceive him as insane, which makes sense both for genre narrative purposes and for believability.