Elements of Orality in the Fairy Tales of H. C. Andersen

I. Orality and Literacy

The vague term 'orality' is difficult to delimit, as it includes any oral utterance from the strongly context-bound, unplanned language of young children to the lecture which is carefully put in writing.1 This shows how problematic the usual structuralist opposition of orality versus literacy is. Koch and Österreicher substitute the well-known dichotomy by "language of proximity" and "language of distance".2 De-borah Tannen tries to avoid black-and-white depiction by concentrating on strategies associated with the oral and literate tradition.3 Such strategies can only be tendentially located, which is why Tannen speaks of an "oral/literate continuum".4

According to theory, written narration is linked up with oral narration at the transition from oral to literate cultures, and therefore written texts retain traits of oral narration.5 Yet orality necessarily loses its original qualities when changed to the written form. In short, the change of medium entails a translation from an audible into a visible artefact. Orality in written texts is never itself, but always feigned and thus a component of the author's strategy.6

When searching for orality in written texts, the critic thus encounters at least four problems:

  1. Narrative techniques can hardly be ascribed to one single category, because strategies are mixed deliberately or unconsciously in all kinds of texts. A job interview may for example show more elements usually ascribed to written language than a careless journal entry.
  2. Relevant linguistic research deals primarily with English and cannot automatically be transferred to Danish. Universals have to be distinguished from language- and culture-dependent characteristics of orality.7
  3. The lack of phonologically verifiable material from Andersen's time partly undermines the linguistic research.
  4. In literary texts, the mimetic function of orality is of secondary importance, so that it is insufficient to search for clues to certain phonetic, lexical, syntactical, and dialectal features.8 Instead, literary scholarship should concentrate on functions which result from the imitation of real orality.9

As Paul Goetsch claims, the most important general task of feigned orality in literary texts is to create the illusion of a language of proximity which may increase the appeal and readability of the texts. Written narration forces the recipient to constitute the narrated world through the act of reading. Feigned orality is a technique used to create an illusion which helps the reader in this process.10

The linguistic aspect of this paper is tied up with one of genre theory. The Kunstmärchen11 is no independent literary genre;12 rather, it is oriented toward the folktale (Volksmärchen) with its claim to oral telling and aural reception.13 While the folktale could still be defined as "a work of epical fiction transmitted by way of mouth" in the late 1950's,14 it is well acknowledged today that an uninterrupted stream of oral transmission is improbable and that literary composition precedes the popularisation in oral narration.15 Thus the author of a fairy tale finds himself in the paradoxical situation of referring to a tradition of orality which is itself a fiction.

However, these critical observations do not alter the fact that Andersen wrote in a style highly unusual for his time, a style which will be analysed with regard to the folktale as supposedly oral narration.

II. Grammar

Spoken language is generally characterized by a lower degree of complexity and abstraction than its written counterpart.16 This is due both to the high speed of production and reception and to the fact that in face-to-face communication, the relationship of the speaker to the recipient may be more important than the mere transmission of content.17 Oral narration is thus marked by lower lexical variability.18

Andersen uses a simple inventory of attributive adjuncts in his fairy tales. In "The Little Mermaid" the expression "bedrøvet" has to suffice as a description of all varieties and gradations of sadness.19 There is an abundance of formulaic dichotomies such as like-dislike, wise-stupid, rich-poor, or good-bad. Andersen does not work with shades, but with sharp contrasts which are mnemotechnical devices insofar as black-and-white drawing is more memorable than pastel drawing.20 The same applies to the inclination towards superlatives which enable the author to intensify a few basic attributes like dejlig, nydelig, and prægtig. The little mermaid "havde den skjønneste Stemme af alle paa Jorden og i Havet" (I, 97:20f) and "de nydeligste smaae, hvide Been, nogen lille Pige kunde have" (I, 100:37f).

The frequent use of adverbs backing other adverbs, adjectives or sentences is a sign of lexical reductionism, too, as it allows for differentiation without the author's being forced to enlarge the stock of words. The following statement from "Ole Lukøie" is underlined threefold: "... de stode i en udhulet Osteskorpe og kyssedes saa skrækkeligt meget for Alles Øine ..." (I, 172:38f).21 Even the sense of place may be intensified by the use of adverbs (helt, lige). In "The Tinder Box", the description of the soldier's room "heelt inde under Taget" (I, 26:18) literally moves the protagonist toward the tiles and thus emphasizes his claustrophobic circumstances of living.

Finally, many formulations are colloquial to varying degrees, ranging from the prince "[som] vilde have sig en Prindsesse" (I, 41:2) to the general who sits "aldeles henkogt" (IV, 240:39)22 in his living-room. In some cases everyday usage is even marked by the narrator as in "da han levede stod han sig godt, som man siger" (II, 239:32).23

The syntax of Andersen's fairy tales also indicates the author's effort to feign orality. Innumerable exclamations, often begun with an interjection, vivify the narration and emphasize the narrator's emotional participation.24 In "The Princess on the Pea", the narrator comments on the unbecoming entrance of the princess herself: "Men Gud hvor hun saae ud af Regnen og det onde Veir!" (I, 41:14f).

One of the least disputed features of spoken language is its tendency toward parataxis25 which requires less planning than hypotaxis and which is also typical of Andersen's fairy tales. The first contact one of the little mermaid's sisters makes with human beings is described as follows: "I en lille Bugt traf hun en heel Flok smaa Menneskebørn; ganske nøgne løb de og plaskede i Vandet, hun vilde lege med dem, men de løbe forskrækkede deres Vei, og der kom et lille sort Dyr, det var en Hund, men hun havde aldrig før set en Hund ..." (I, 90:16-20). While the main clauses are frequently linked by og or other conjunctions, they are sometimes asyndetically set one beside the other in a telegraphic style: "En Aften blev det da et frygteligt Veir; det lynede og tordnede, Regnen skyllede ned, det var ganske forskrækkeligt!" (I, 41:10f).26 This technique suggests the fragmentation and provisionality which are also considered features of oral utterance.27

Some of the paratactical elements resemble interposed spontaneous comments, such as in "The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters": "'... her vare de tre, - Faderen var med! - De gik hen af Veien, hvor de havde kjørt i Karreet ...'" (III, 110:18f). Ideas are not structured as we expect them to be in written formulation; instead, they are presented in the confused way thoughts might enter a narrator's mind.28

Often the word order is wrong as in the following example, where the subordinate clause appears in the guise of a main clause: " Gaaseurt[en] blev saa forskrækket af bare Glæde, at den vidste slet ikke mere, hvad den skulde tænke" (I, 118:12f).29 Other sentences are syntactically incomplete. Thus "The Wind Tells" its wisdom by tags: "' fare hen! fare hen! og det i alle Aaringer'" (III, 110:31), or it casts catching proverbs at the listener: "'Nye Tider, andre Tider!'" (III, 112:16). Yet not all of the short utterances are incomplete. Brief sentences may be used as surprise effects, such as the anticlimactic final: "Væk var den [Vinden]" (III, 112:22), which reflects the wind's velocity.

Contrasting with such fragments, there are seemingly endless paratactical structures, especially in cases of climactic development. They are but loosely linked and give the impression of breathlessness. The crucial scene in "The Little Mermaid" reads:

Den lille Havfrue trak Purpurtæppet bort fra Teltet, og hun saae den deilige Brud sove med sit Hoved ved Prindsens Bryst, og hun bøiede sig ned, kyssede ham paa hans smukke Pande, saae paa Himlen, hvor Morgenrøden lyste meer og meer, saae paa den skarpe Kniv og fæstede igjen Øinene paa Prindsen, der i Drømme nævnede sin Brud ved Navn, hun kun var i hans Tanker, og Kniven zittrede i Havfruens Haand, - men da kastede hun den langt ud i Bølgerne, de skinnede røde, hvor den faldt, det saae ud, som piblede der Blodsdraaber op af Vandet. (I, 105:22-31)

From the mermaid's perspective, this moment, which is to decide both her fate and that of her beloved, is drawn out like a film scene taken in slow-motion.

Andersen negligently mixes tenses, changing from simple past to present tense in order to create the impression of immediacy: " der manglede een [Blomst], men hvilken vidste hun ikke. Da sidder hun
en Dag og seer paa den gamle Kones Solhat med de malede Blomster, og just den smukkeste der var en Rose" (II, 57:39-58:1).30 Such a transition is even more obvious in exclamations: "'See, det alchymistiske Glas! det er glødende, puurt og tungt! han løftede det med zittrende Haand ...'" (III, 109: 7f). The narrator is so fascinated by the events that they once more become present to him and thus to his audience.

Furthermore, punctuation tends to lose its original marking and dividing functions. Logically the following sentence from "The Wild Swans" would require a division into three: "... da hun gjorde sin lille Haand vaad og gned Øine og Pande, skinnede den hvide Hud frem igjen, da lagde hun alle sine Klæder og gik ud i det friske Vand; et deiligere Kongebarn fandtes der ikke i denne Verden" (I, 128:10-14). Remarkably, there is no capitalization after many of those punctuation marks which usually indicate the closing of a sentence. Thus the first paragraph of "The Wind Tells" reads: "Lad kun Vinden fortælle! den veed Eventyr og Historier ..." (III, 103:13f). Andersen seems to suggest that the written text is a stop-gap which, like music (i.e., the printed matter), gives mere indications as to how it is supposed to sound.

III. Repetition

Redundancy is a general feature of spoken language.31 This is due primarily to the limited possibilities of complex composition. Max Lüthi explains that repetition in speech is necessary for both the narrator as a creative break ("schöpferische Pause") and for the listener as a reception break ("Rezeptionspause").32 Repetition also serves a purpose in that the listener cannot leaf back as in a novel to review information already given.33 Finally, the return of the familiar gives the recipient a feeling of security and structure.34

In Andersen's fairy tales, repetition is a central stylistic element which may be found on various levels. "The Princess on the Pea" shows how important terms are underlined effectively by means of this device. On one page the word combination "en rigtig Prindsesse" appears four times,35 "en virkelig Prindsesse" three times. The ambiguous nature of reality, the theme of the tale, is thus audibly foregrounded.

Complex chains of associations, based on single terms, are taken up again and again, such as in "The Tinder Box", where the size of the dogs' eyes is a central motif which dominates even the final sentence as a play on words: "... og Hundene sad med til Bords og gjorde store Øine" (I, 29:25f). Furthermore, whole sentence structures and parts are repeated, often marking parallel units of meaning. In "The Red Shoes" the sentence " ... og Karen saae paa de sorte Skoe, hun saae paa de røde - og saa saae hun paa de røde igjen ..." (II, 86:35f, Andersen's emphasis) signals the choice between good and bad. A little later it is taken up again, when Karen finally chooses the 'wrong' way: "... hun saae paa den gamle Frue, der jo dog ikke kunde leve, hun saae paa de røde Skoe ... hun tog de røde Skoe paa ..." (II, 87:32-34).

Several of the fairy tales make use of a refrain which constantly refers back to the core motif. The wind's "'Hu- u- ud! fare hen! fare hen!'" returns ten times in "The Wind Tells", partly with slight variations, and this programmatic howling closes the single periods of the story: the building of the ship, which precedes the symbolic advent of winter (III, 106:25), the Daaes' exodus from Borreby Gaard after a long time of privation (III, 110:30f), and the death of the last family member, Anna Dorthea (III, 112:19). Thus the refrain is used as a binding force in a tale which tells the sad story of evanescence and decay.

Andersen's comical tautologies add a touch of spontaneity to the fairy tales. The narrator of "The Tinder Box" wisely states: " nu var han riig da han havde saa mange Penge" (I, 25:32), and "The Wind Tells" deals with the same theme: "' der var rigt derinde i Borreby Gaard, da Rigdommen var der'" (III, 104:10f, Andersen's emphasis). Yet both of these tautologies turn out to be well-planned and of topical relevance, as they implicitly ask whether the persons concerned are also rich in the figurative sense.

The repetition of sounds, words, groups of words or units of content is a structural principle common to the folktale and Andersen's fairy tales,36 and therefore Lüthi's approach to the folktale may be transferred to Andersen. Lüthi observes that simple and varied repetition is a universal principle, so that the folktale may thus be said to concretize the basic structure of existence.37 In the fairy tale, then, important features of life are turned into an audible event.

IV. Sound: Singing the Fairy Tale

Andersen's fairy tales basically live through sound, on being aurally received. This is expressed by various sound phenomena within the fairy tales and is furthermore explicitly made a topic in some.

Often Andersen uses alliterations such as: "'... Ravne og Krager ... skrege med hæse Skrig om Skoven ...'" (III, 106:28-30).38 They may also emphasize meaning as in "The Wind Tells", where the Daaes' pride "'med Bram og med Brask'" (III, 104:24) is highlighted, and the patriarch's fall, brought about by his avarice, is thus commented on: "'Gjeld kom for Guld'" (III, 108:18). Rhymed couplets are less frequent, although many examples can be found in the programmatically sound-oriented "The Wind Tells". "'[H]æsende og blæsende'" (III, 104:28) the wind dashes over "'Volde og Grave, Skov og Have'" (III, 106:10f), and in winter the crows sit on the decaying ship, "'det øde, det døde'" (III, 106:29).

Incidents are vivified by means of onomatopoetic devices. During Hjalmar's nocturnal sailing excursion in "Ole Lukøie", the fish jump out of the water "saa det sagde Pladsk igjen i Vandet ... og Oldenborren sagde bum, bum" (I, 169:31-34). The imitations of animal language are especially impressive. In "The Fir Tree" the sparrows twitter: "'Det vide vi! det vide vi'" (II, 42:37), and the crows and jackdaws in "The Wind Tells" croak: "'fra Reden! fra Reden! frá! frá!'" (III, 105:34). In the second quotation the use of symbols which are exclusively meant to indicate stress shows to which degree the text in general is to be understood as a phonetic transcription.

Lyrical elements repeatedly show up in the narrative flow of the fairy tales. A distinct rhythm may occur especially in descriptions of nature, resulting in dactylic or trochaic constructions like "paa Stjernen, den funklende Stjerne deroppe" (I, 153:20f) or "det var Sommer, den varme, velsignede Sommer" (II, 76:37).39 In the following example, rhythm is combined with a rhymed couplet. The wind tells that it often came back,

'over Fyens Land og Beltets Vand, satte mig ved Borreby Strand'. (III, 105:22f)

Arranged like this the lines, which run on quite ordinarily in the original text, are automatically read as a tetrameter rhymed couplet with an additional internal rhyme in the first verse. The old weeder in "Little Tuk" intones a two-foot anapaestic rhymed couplet: "'... det er vaadt, det er vaadt, det er gravstille godt ...'" (II, 127:29f).

"The Wind Tells" sketches the theme of Andersen's poetics of oral narration and exemplifies it at the same time. To begin with, the title introduces narrating as such while expounding the aspect of orality, as the wind can only make itself understood through sound. The narrator presents the wind as a person who has to tell fairy tales and stories and begs his listeners: "Hør nu, hvor den [Vinden] fortæller ..." (III, 103:14f). Thus the whole story to come is a feigned quotation.

This family story results from an interplay of listening and speaking. In order to obtain the relevant information, the wind eavesdropped on the Daaes throughout their lives, listening at the chimney or at cracks in the windows and walls (III, 106:18; 109:34). The ensuing tale is pure sound: "... den synger det ud, og anderledes klinger det i Skovens Træer ... hører du, hvor Vinden hernede tuder gjennem den aabne Port, som var den Vægter og blæste i Horn!" (III, 103:5-10). The narration turns out to be a musical experience with many different variations of sound.

This is even more obvious in "What Old Johanne Told", which begins with the words "Vinden suser i det gamle Piletræ! Det er som hørte man en Sang; Vinden synger den, Træet fortæller den" (V, 180:2-4). Narration is presented as sound which cannot be grasped rationally. Old Johanne is waiting in the background to explain things to those who are incapable of understanding them (V, 180:4-6). Toward the end of the fairy tale the initial words are modified: "Vinden susede i Træets Grene, det var som en Sang, det var som en Tale" (V, 190:41f). Song and speech become identical, as the wind both sings and tells.40 Basically Andersen longs for a universal language which reaches the soul directly without the mediation of words. This explains the fairy tales' tendency toward a dissociation of language from itself, which is most clearly exemplified in "The Bell". The bell's tolling tells the story of truth, beauty and goodness and is finally accompanied by an all-encompassing song: " Skoven sang og Havet sang og hans [Kongesønnens] Hjerte sang med " (II, 208:24f). For Andersen, the fairy tale as a kind of music is to be understood mainly via its sound,41 and Georg Brandes instinctively understands this relationship when he writes: "Ingen Omskrivninger, Alt siges her rent ud af Posen, ja mere end siges, brummes, nynnes og tudes."42

V. Life as Story: Oral and Dialogic Narration

The importance of "The Wind Tells" is also due to the fact that not the action, but narration itself becomes a fairy tale. Only the conditions of narrating are fantastic, while the story gives a basically realistic account of a family's economic and social decline. On the whole, elements of the fantastic are limited to the narrative perspective, demonstrating new ways of approaching the unspectacular and gloomy realities of everyday life.

To Andersen, oral narration seems to be not only the key to the fairy tale, but to life itself. Thus the merchant's son in "The Flying Trunk" gains the princess merely because he is such a convincing teller of fairy tales (I, 158:18-22). Finally he becomes a Wandering Jew who travels around the world telling mournful tales after he has lost both the princess and the realm by his own fault. While narration initially is a means of assuring one's good fortune, in the end it is turned into a therapeutic strategy to cope with failure.

"Ole Lukøie" also deals with a narrator within the narration, a Nordic guardian of sleep who is a reputed expert ("Han kan rigtignok fortælle" [I, 167:3]) and helps the boy Hjalmar to live in his dream stories for seven succeeding nights. As the reader does not learn anything about Hjalmar's daylight activities, the whole week, symbolizing a lifetime, becomes a never-ending dream. In fantastic tales Hjalmar rambles through a colorful 'counter-reality' where he nevertheless experiences the full range of adult life down to death in the last episode.

Whereas the narrator of the folktale maintains a distance from his audience, Andersen's tales stand out because of the proximity of the narrator to both action and implicit listener.43 As in "The Wind Tells", the narrator is proud of having witnessed all the incidents and being able to make the listener share the experience afterwards. When imitating the soldier's marching rhythm: "een, to! een, to!" (I, 23:2f), the narrator of "The Tinder Box" assumes the role of an onlooker standing at the roadside watching the soldier pass by. Later, when the serviceable dog takes the princess to the soldier, the narrator describes the noble rider as "saa deilig, at enhver kunde see, det var en virkelig Prindsesse" (I, 27:12f). He pretends actually to have seen the princess at the time, enabling him to take on the role of judge.

Andersen uses deictical elements in order to close the gap between the observed action and the temporal and spatial situation of the recipient. These elements are typical of spoken language because they imply a shared here and now of speaker and listener.44 The narrator of the frame story in "The Wind Tells" suggests that he meets with his audience at the open fireplace, "og her er saa luunt og hyggeligt at sidde og høre til" (III, 103:12f). Furthermore, Andersen simulates a situation of proximity by addressing his readers/listeners directly as in "The Snow Queen", which opens with: "See saa! nu begynde vi" (II, 49:5), or "The Princess on the Pea", which closes with the words, "See, det var en rigtig Historie!" (I, 42:13). Additionally, the imperative takes on a deictic function as it evokes the illusion that the recipient is able to follow the narrator's outstretched index finger.

In the first paragraph of "The Wind Tells", the narrator repeatedly asks the listener to use his/her eyes and ears, and this is what Klotz calls a "sensual vis-à-vis" of speaker and listener.45 The act of reading loses its inherent distance, becoming a sensual experience of narration.46 Just as the folktale addresses a community of listeners which is expected to react in some way,47 Andersen's recipient should by no means be passive. Direct references to the reader/listener make it obvious that the author's ideal is that of dialogic narration.48 In "The Swan's Nest" the narrator goes so far as to anticipate his recipients' answers by saying: "Det var i de ældgamle Dage! siger Du", or "'Ja, den Gang!' siger Du, 'men nu i vore Dage!'" (II, 236:20; 237:5). Furthermore, Andersen uses questions as an effective means of involving his listeners, as the title "Which Was the Happiest?" indicates. At the close of the tale, the wind addresses its audience: "'Siig mig saa, hvem var den Lykkeligste af dem Alle? Ja, det maa Du sige, jeg har sagt nok!'" (V, 144:31-33). The recipient is explicitly asked to respond to the narration and to continue where the given text ends.

"Ole Lukøie" is a brilliant example of Andersen's concept of the dialogic way texts come into being. Even the internal action of the seven single tales consists of a succession of dialogues. The conclusion of every tale takes the recipient back to the core dialogue between Ole and Hjalmar. It is the exchange between the two that brings the dreams into existence. These dreams do not simply begin on their own; Hjalmar must first accept the suggestions of the narrator Ole. Hjalmar has to climb into the landscape picture all by himself; Ole just lifts him up to it (I, 169:20-22). When Ole suggests that Hjalmar might visit a mouse wedding, the boy inquires how to get into the mousehole, causing Ole to demonstrate his magic abilities (I, 172:13-16). In the last three episodes, Hjalmar takes the initiative himself. His inquiry: "'Hvad skulle vi nu have for i Nat?'" (I, 173:25) enables him to attend the dolls' wedding. The following night he impatiently insists: "'Faaer jeg nu Historier!'" (I, 175:5), and on the last evening he demands: "'Nu skal Du fortælle mig Historier '"
(I, 176:5). Hjalmar has to fight against Ole's decreasing interest, spurring him on to further activity.

Ida in "Little Ida's Flowers" participates in the process of narration in a similar way. When the student begins his story of the flowers which are so keen on dancing, the sceptical girl contradicts at once: "'Men Blomsterne kunne jo ikke dandse!'" (I, 43:14). This situation is typical of a language of proximity where production and reception are interlocked, so that there is constant feedback.49 The narrator's task during the course of the fairy tale is to react to Ida's objections, to soften her realistic and sceptical point of view, and to make her sensitive to "'den dumme Phantasie'" (I, 45:35). He succeeds, for Ida finally elaborates upon his original phantasies. When she lies in bed, she suddenly hears the piano playing in the living-room and imagines the flowers dancing. Then she rises, passing the threshold of the living-room into the fancy world it represents (I, 46:21-47:3). The story in wonderland is carried on as the recipient Ida becomes the narrator.

In sum, I would claim that narration in Andersen's fairy tales is equally connected with sound and dialogue and is therefore necessarily bound up with orality. Furthermore, dialogue seems to be seen as the condition of human maturing, because Ida playfully comes to terms with the idea of death by fanciful joint narrating which paradoxically helps her explore the adult world.


1. Paul Goetsch, "Fingierte Mündlichkeit in der Erzählkunst entwickelter Schriftkulturen", Poetica, 17:3, 1985, pp. 202-18, here p. 206. back

2. Peter Koch & Wulf Österreicher, "Sprache der Nähe - Sprache der Distanz. Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit im Spannungsfeld von Sprachtheorie und Sprachgeschichte", Romanistisches Jahrbuch, 36, 1985, pp. 15-43, here esp. pp. 21-23 (my translation). back

3. Deborah Tannen, "The Oral/Literate Continuum in Discourse", in id., ed., Spoken and Written Language: Exploring Orality and Literacy, Norwood/NJ 1982, pp. 1-16, here pp. 3f. back

4. Ibid., p. 3. back

5. Paul Goetsch, "Vorwort", in Willi Erzgräber & Paul Goetsch, eds., Mündliches Erzählen im Alltag, fingiertes mündliches Erzählen in der Literatur, Tübingen 1987, pp. 7-14, here p. 7. back

6. Goetsch, "Fingierte Mündlichkeit", p. 202. back

7. For the dependency of discourse strategies on culture, cf. F. Niyi Akinnaso, "On the Differences between Spoken and Written Language", Language and Speech, 25:2, 1982, pp. 97-125, here p. 116; Tannen, "Oral/Literate Continuum", pp. 4-8. back

8. Goetsch, "Fingierte Mündlichkeit", p. 210. back

9. Ibid., p. 217. back

10. Ibid., pp. 218f. back

11. Fairy tale with an identifiable author. back

12. Jens Tismar, Kunstmärchen, Stuttgart 21983, p. 3. back

13. Volker Klotz, Das europäische Kunstmärchen. Fünfundzwanzig Kapitel seiner Geschichte von der Renaissance bis zur Moderne, Stuttgart 1986, pp. 8f. back

14. Max Lüthi, Märchen, Stuttgart 81990, p. 4 (my translation). back

15. Tismar, Kunstmärchen, p. 2. Cf. Lutz Röhrich, "Volkspoesie ohne Volk. Wie 'mündlich' sind sogenannte 'Volkserzählungen?'", in id. & Erika Lindig, eds., Volksdichtung zwischen Mündlichkeit und Schriftlichkeit, Tübingen 1989, pp. 49-65, here p. 49; Linda Dégh, Narratives in Society. A Performer-Centered Study of Narration, Helsinki 1995, pp. 263ff. back

16. See Koch & Österreicher, "Sprache der Nähe", p. 22; Akinnaso, "Differences", p. 101; Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the Word, London/New York 1982, p. 49. back

17. Cf. Akinnaso, "Differences", p. 113; Wallace L. Chafe, "Integration and Involvement in Speaking, Writing, and Oral Literature", in Tannen, Spoken and Written Language, pp. 35-53, here pp. 45f.; Ong, Orality, p. 69. back

18. G. H. J. Driemann, "Differences between Written and Spoken Language", Acta Psychologica, 20, 1962, pp. 36-57, here p. 48; P. Downing, "Factors Influencing Lexical Choice in Narrative", in W. L. Chafe, ed., The Pear Stories. Cognitive, Cultural, and Linguistic Aspects of Narrative Production, Norwood/NJ 1980, pp. 89-126, here p. 105; Jack Goody, The Interface between the Written and the Oral, Cambridge 1987, p. 263. back

19. H. C. Andersens Eventyr, I: Eventyr, fortalte for Børn 1835-42, eds. Erik Dal & Erling Nielsen, Copenhagen 1963, p. 94:21, p. 97:1 and 26, p. 101:14, and p. 102:5. Further references to this edition (I-VII, 1963-90) are given parenthetically in the text, indicating volume, page, and line number. back

20. Cf. Ingvild Alnæs, "H. C. Andersen og folkeeventyrene", Anderseniana, 2:2, 1975, pp. 97-119, here p. 99. back

21. Emphases are mine, if no other information is given. back

22. Cf. Paul V. Rubow, H. C. Andersens Eventyr. Forhistorien - Idé og Form - Sprog og Stil, Copenhagen 1927, p. 187. back

23. Quoted in Victor A. Schmitz, H.C. Andersens Märchendichtung. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der dänischen Spätromantik, Greifswald 1925, p. 104. back

24. Walter A. Berendsohn has counted 1400 exclamation marks only in the first volume of Eventyr. Phantasie und Wirklichkeit in den "Märchen und Geschichten" Hans Christian Andersens. Struktur- und Stilstudien, Walluf 1973, pp. 226f. back

25. See, e.g., Koch & Österreicher, "Sprache der Nähe", p. 22; Uta Quasthoff, Erzählen in Gesprächen, Tübingen 1980, p. 216; Ong, Orality, p. 37; Roy O'Donnell, "Syntactic Differences between Speech and Writing", American Speech, 49, 1974, pp. 102-110, here pp. 107f. back

26. Cf. Schmitz, Märchendichtung, p. 103. back

27. See, e.g., Chafe, "Integration", pp. 38f.; Robin T. Lakoff, "Some of my Favorite Writers are Literate: The Mingling of Oral and Literate Strategies in Written Communication", in Tannen, Spoken and Written Language, pp. 239-60, here p. 251. back

28. For spontaneity as feature of orality, see Akinnaso, "Differences", p. 114; Koch & Österreicher, "Sprache der Nähe", p. 20. back

29. For word order, see Rubow, Eventyr, p. 185. back

30. Quoted in Rubow, Eventyr, p. 183, Rubow's emphasis. For the scenic present tense, cf. Quasthoff, Erzählen in Gesprächen, pp. 227f. back

31. See Akinnaso, "Differences", p. 104; Goody, Interface, p. 264; Quasthoff, Erzählen in Gesprächen, pp. 210-13. back

32. Max Lüthi, Das Volksmärchen als Dichtung. Ästhetik und Anthropologie, Düsseldorf/Köln 1975, p. 91. back

33. See Koch & Österreicher, "Sprache der Nähe", p. 30; Ong, Orality and Literacy, p. 34. back

34. Lüthi, Volksmärchen, pp. 57, 91. back

35. Once as "rigtige Prindsesser", I, p. 41:6. back

36. Cf. Lüthi, Volksmärchen, p. 108. back

37. Ibid., pp. 91-93. back

38. For various kinds of rhymes, see Berendsohn, Phantasie, pp. 232-37; Schmitz, Märchendichtung, p. 111. back

39. For an alternative view, see Rubow, Eventyr, p. 192. back

40. The importance of sound helps to explain why Andersen often uses verses in his tales or even presents them as topic like in "Dance, Dance, Doll of Mine". back

41. For the fairy tale as music, cf. Paul Böckmann, "Das gesprochene Wort in der Dichtung", Wirkendes Wort, 23, 1973, pp. 181-86, here pp. 183f. back

42. Georg Brandes, "H. C. Andersen som Eventyrdigter", in Samlede Skrifter, II: Danske Personligheder, Copenhagen 1899, pp. 91-132, here p. 93. back

43. Klotz, Kunstmärchen, p. 247, calls this an accomplice-like 'we'. For the narrator in the folktale, cf. Leander Petzoldt, "Probleme und Dimensionen des Erzählerischen in der Literatur und Volkspoesie", in Röhrich & Lindig, Volksdichtung, pp. 67-81, here pp. 71f. back

44. For deixis in spoken language, cf. Heiko Hausendorf, "Deixis and Orality: Explaining Games in Face-to-Face Interaction", in Uta Quasthoff, ed., Aspects of Oral Communication, Berlin/New York 1995, pp. 181-97. back

45. Klotz, Kunstmärchen, p. 246 (my translation). back

46. Ibid., p. 247. back

47. Böckmann, "Das gesprochene Wort", p. 184. back

48. Cf. Berendsohn, Phantasie, p. 230; Schmitz, Märchendichtung, p. 100. back

49. Koch & Österreicher, "Sprache der Nähe", pp. 19f. The theory is mirrored in the story of the fairy tale's origins. See Finn H. Mortensen, "Slægten og familierne, 'den dumme Phantasie' og døden - 'Den lille Idas Blomster' i biedermeierkulturen", Danske Studier, 1986, pp. 72-94, here p. 82. back

Bibliographic information about the text:

Menzel, Manfred: "Elements of Orality in the Fairy Tales of H. C. Andersen" , In: Johan de Mylius, Aage Jørgensen and Viggo Hjørnager Pedersen (ed.): Hans Christian Andersen. A Poet in Time. Papers from the Second International Hans Christian Andersen Conference 29 July to 2 August 1996. The Hans Christian Andersen Center, Odense University, Odense University Press. 576 pages, Odense, Denmark 1999.