Forty Two Stories
by Hans Christian Andersen and M.R. James (translator)
Yet another translation of Hans Christian Andersen!… Why am I adding to the pile? For the simple reason that I am very fond of the originals, and I do not think that justice has been done to them by any of the versions I have come across.
– M. R. James, Introduction to Forty Two Stories
James was not a professional literary translator, and I’ve read comments by modern translators, somewhat sneering of this particular effort for being “awkward.” Certainly he makes some strange choices (He renders “Svinedrengen” as “pig boy” rather than the more common “swineherd”). But at the time that Forty Two Stories came out in 1930, it was quite well regarded.
… nothing too pretty, nothing too vague…we get, possibly for the first time, a glimpse of the originals as they really are.
– The New Statesman
And I think the volume is charming.
My post is more about two specific tales—“The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “Svinedrengen”—than about this translation, per se, but I commend it to you.