Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Snow Queen
illustration by Miss Clara for La Reine des glaces Hans Christian Andersen, ed. Gautier-Languereau
Andersen, Hans Christian. Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales. Milo Winter, illustrator. Valdemar Paulsen, translator. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, [c1916].
The Snow Queen by Debra McFarlane
The Pink Fairy Book
etching with aquatint
Art direction by Marcel Wanders and photography by Nicole Marnati. (via)
Illustration by Edmund Dulac for The Snow Queen By Hans Christian Andersen
You can read an annotated version of the Snow Queen Fairytale on Sur La Lune Fairytales. I watched Black Swan recently, which made me wonder about why the Snow Queen is depicted with geese (not swans?). Perhaps it was the deceptive mirrors which reminded me of the Snow Queen. I was thinking about her connection to the White Queen in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The White Queen, who has a wintry realm (as the Snow Queen), also drives a sleigh and kidnaps a boy. In the Narnia books, she is later revealed as a descendant of Adam's first wife Lilith, made from earth like him, rather than a rib. Lilith claimed to be his equal and refused to submit to him. She appears in Jewish mythology. Her history is messy (from ancient Sumeria, through the Pre-Rafealites, wiccans, to modern feminist theory), debated and beyond my ken. Some claim her to be a daimon, succubus, a night spirit, screech owl or a conversely subverted mother goddess. C.S. Lewis' Lilith is half-djinn half-giantess. Like Lilith, the White Queen is the first to rebel, which makes for a particularly interesting, if loaded villain.
A young girl must travel to Svalbard (like The Snow Queen's Spitsbergen) to rescue a kidnapped boy, as in The Snow Queen, in The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights) by Philip Pullman. Incidentally, Pullman was no fan of the Narnia books. He lambastes him for sexism, racism, manipulative use of Christian imagery and rejection of sexuality (particularly in women like Susan, the adolescent who wants to grow up, but this ties clearly to Lilith as well). I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia seven times before the age of 12, and while I did think Lewis a good story teller - in fact, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was what first inspired me to read in English - as I grew older I did think that some of Lewis' ideas and theology insidiously seeped into my subconscious while I was unaware. The idea of not allowing a young woman to mature, or to embrace her sexuality, brings us full circle back to Black Swan. I wonder if I would have been a different sort of young person had I read His Dark Materials, rather than The Chronicles of Narnia.
One of the things that does attract me to The Snow Queen, is that for once, a little girl rescues a little boy.