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Dickens & Andersen


Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House  

Page 4

For Andersen, like Meister Eckhart, sinful life is already the highest punishment, to which hell would have nothing to add. By his final exhortation "Learn to know mankind! Even in the wicked one lives a part of God — and this extinguishes and conquers the flame of hell!" Andersen does not abolish man's freedom, he only claims that evil is not so powerful as to become eternal, even by being endlessly punished. Evil is exclusively temporary; eternal injustice could not exist. It seems correct to allege that Dickens looking at Andersen's work did not see but himself, and that whatever he "discovered" has in Andersen's work only a secondary significance; but this would be a fact very poorly expressed. Dickens is for Andersen what Cycladic art is for Henry Moore: a warm and gentle substance which by the latter's breath assumed godly dimensions.

IN THE MOST important fairy tales whatever we call "happy end" could never happen, just as, and just because, it could not happen in life either. The leaden soldier will finally melt. The little girl will freeze to death. Little Rudy will be drown by the evil forces having already lost his mother. He tasted the cold kiss of the ice maiden. But in fairy tales someone really dies when he hates life not when he departs from it. Fear of death is not justified, because pure order and duration do not constitute grounds of real life. On the contrary, pure desire for order and duration possesses the kingdom of the underworld:

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