Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fairy Tale Fridays: The Philosopher's Stone

Special Thanks to my Personal Faery Friend for the Button Art: Ye Olde Faery Shoppe

I chose this week's selection because I had recently re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, or what is better known across the way, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  Harry Potter is one of my all time favorite books and I thought it would be fun to read some of the inspiration behind Rowling's work.

According to Wikipedia, the Philosopher's Stone or a more accurate translation, the Philosophers' Stone, is . . .
a legendary alchemical substance, supposedly capable of turning base metals, especially lead into gold; it was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality.
Now, we all know (or really just the Harry Potter fans out there) that Nicholas Flamel had developed the stone and Albus Dumbledore was a good friend of his.  The stone was being hidden by the latter so that the evil Lord Voldemort did not get his filthy hands on it to use it in his evil plan of becoming immortal.  BUT, what does Andersen's tale tell us of the stone?

I'm going to be honest here . . . . I simply don't think that I fully understand Andersen's version!!  Five siblings with five different enhanced senses, going out into the world in the hopes of bringing truth, goodness, and beauty.  The four brothers fail and either lose their sense or get disrupted by it . . . a couple with the help of the Devil himself.  Then, the one daughter, blind nonetheless, takes on the journey, discovers the stone, and brings each of her brothers back home.  Once the stone was in hand, The Book of Truth reveals the meaning behind life after death with one word, "Faith!"

I truly went into this story hoping for a bit of adventure!  I was thinking it could go one of two ways . . . one that brings a feeling of enjoyment, to imagine an immortal life . . . OR the idea of bringing forth a great discussion of right and wrong, what to do with such power, and maybe even the ultimate debate of good versus evil, maybe in the sense of religion.  What I got was complete and utter confusion!!  What was the point?  Was I meant to be a bit depressed while reading Andersen's tale?  Did Andersen have a bit of his subconscious coming out in his stories and he really had a negative view of the world himself?  In the end, a "happy ending" was a bit of the result, but to me it was simply too forced!

Don't get me wrong . . . I am all for truth, goodness, and beauty!!!  BUT, I am going to have to say that I like the lesson expressed by Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the moral on this one . . .
"You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing.  As much money and life as you could want!  The two things most human beings would choose above all -- the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."
The stone simply leads to greed, hate, and distrust . . . the complete opposite of what it represents!

There are many books on shelves today that deal with this concept of the Philosophers' Stone.  I have many in my personal collection myself.  I think I may try to read one for our next modern day version of a classic tale in a future month.  As for Andersen's version, I think I will pass!  In fact, we will be taking a break from him for a while.  He's simply too depressing for me!!

And, to end with a happy note . . . I read over at The Leaky Cauldron that J.K. Rowling is to receive the FIRST EVER Hans Christian Andersen Award this coming October 2010!  I had no idea about this when I chose this story and was inspired by her very first book in this choice!  You know what they say about brilliant minds . . . :)

What did you think of this week's selection?

Friday, May 28th:  The Twelve Brothers by The Brothers Grimm
Friday, June 4th:  Strega Nona by Tomie dePaolo
Friday, June 11th:  The Boy Who Cried Wolf  by Aesop

Friday, June 18th:  Peach Boy or Momotaro (A Japanese Folktale)  


  1. I thought I left a comment agreeing that this was an odd tale, definitely not one of my favorites.

  2. Hey there...Happy FTF!! I will have to look for this one at the library just to see it for myself. I like that your thoughts went to Harry Potter!!

  3. You know, I was just thinking about rereading some Hp books. Now, you have convinced me!

  4. Enjoyed this installment of FTF! Agree that Andersen's version was a little confusing and that he can be depressing. Looking forward to next week!

  5. I haven't played Fairy Tale Fridays in awhile! Alas, life and all...I hope to hop back on next Friday.

  6. carolsnotebook . . . Definitely not one of mine either! I think this next week will be much better though!!

    Peaceful Reader . . . Of course they went to Harry Potter! When don't they?!? :)

    KateW . . . I'm glad that I convinced you! I've got the series planned here in a few weeks myself!!

    Alexia561 . . . He can be depressing and I definitely need a break from it. I was thinking that there is a play out there that is much better centered around Andersen's tales. I say this because I acted (poorly I might add) in the school play. I think I'm going to see if I can find that one to help spice it up a bit in a couple of months!

    Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow . . . I would love to have you back! And, I totally understand how life can get in the way sometimes!! :)


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