Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sustainable Fertilizers for Flowering Shrubs

No, that's not the name of today's Hans Andersen tale, but it is relevant.  I just thought I'd title this entry something more eye-catching than the plain old story title; today's being The Rose Elf (or, The Elf of the Rose).  For those of you keeping score at home: this time, I only read one translation, that being the Haugaard.  I don't suspect there should be significant variations here, but for transparency's sake I'll disclose that I haven't yet read the translation I linked above.

Getting on with it then:

Any reader of some of Hans Andersen's more obscure works will notice that his storytelling (I say storytelling here, rather than writing - see next paragraph) seems to lack planning of any kind.  A story will begin about one thing, quickly shift to another, and more often than not, come to an abrupt and unexpected end, sloppily tying off, rather than weaving in, all the loose ends Andersen left hanging along the way.  So it goes with The Rose Elf, a story that begins about a tiny elf dwelling among the roses, and ends up a grisly murder tale centered around a severed head kept in a flower pot.  Oops, spoilers.  Nobody actually reads these stories, right?  Nobody even reads this blog, surely.

Anywho.  I suppose I should not be surprised at this lack of planning.  With a bit of imagination, I can clearly picture Andersen, huddled by a dwindling fire in a rustic cottage, surrounded by, oh, some fifty or so filthy, sick, and dying children.  In a malnourished stupor, he attempts to spin a yarn that will shut them up and/or briefly take their minds off of how frozen and starving they are.  Needless to say, the story need not be terribly cohesive or even interesting.
**The preceding has been a FICTIONALIZED DRAMATIZATION.  I have NO IDEA whether Andersen was poor or wealthy, had children or not, etc.  And for once, I'm not bothering to do A LICK of research.**
How all the bizarre false starts and plot holes got into the versions that were actually written down on paper is beyond me, but that's my little story, and it's good enough for me.

Without further ado, two versions (colored and uncolored) of my illustration for The Rose Elf.  Enjoy.

"...she took the largest flower-pot she could find, and in this she placed the head of the dead man, covered it up with earth, and planted the twig of jasmine in it."

[Copic. Moleskine. 5x8"]

If they look slightly different to you, that's because they are.  Neither are scans, they're low-quality photos with skewed perspective.  I'd ask which one you prefer, but the point is moot, as the b&w one doesn't exist anymore, having become the color one.


Junkyard Sam said...

Oh this is cool! I love seeing the B/W vs. finished version. It's amazing how much the color adds! So much texture and loveliness. Neat piece! Scary, too. =)

ISNorden said...

For what it's worth, Andersen did come from a poor family; he never married or had children of his own, but he did entertain other people's children with improvised stories that he told aloud. Unfortunately, what works in spoken improv doesn't always work in print!