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The motif Faith in HCA : Sunshine Stories (1869)
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The Hans Christian Andersen Center

The motif Faith in HCA : Sunshine Stories (1869)

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Keywords:

Mind, soul, way of living, conduct

Description of this motif: Faith is described both from the outside and from within. Seen from the outside faith is described as e.g. churches, mass, monks and nuns, people praying, seen from within faith is a person's piece of mind, hope and faith in God and life and existence.

Example 1:

"I'll tell you a story," said the wind. "Kindly remember," said the Rain, "that it's my turn to talk. You've been howling around the corner at the top of your voice quite long enough."

"Is that the thanks I get for all of the favors I've done you?" the Wind blustered. "Many an umbrella I've turned inside out, or even blown to tatters, when people tried to avoid you."

"Be silent! It is I who shall speak," said the Sunshine, who spoke with such brilliance and warmth that the weary Wind fell flat on his back, and the Rain shook him and tried to rouse him, crying: "We won't stand for it. This Madam Sunshine is forever interrupting us. Don't lets listen to her. What she says is not worth hearing."

And the Sunshine began: "A beautiful swan flew over the rolling, tossing waves of the ocean. Each of its feathers shone like gold. One feather drifted down above a great merchant ship that sailed the sea with all its canvas spread. The feather came to rest upon the curly hair of a young overseer who looked after the goods aboard that ship – supercargo they called him. The bird of fortune's feather touched his forehead, became a quill pen in his hand, and brought him such luck that he soon became a merchant, a man of wealth, a man so rich that he could wear spurs of gold and change a golden dish into a nobleman's shield. I know – I have shone on it," said the Sunshine.

"The swan flew far away, over a green meadow where a little shepherd boy, not more than seven years old, lay in the shade of an old tree, the only tree in that meadow. As the swan flew past it, she brushed one leaf from the tree. This leaf fell into the boy's hands, where it turned into three leaves, ten leaves – yes, it turned into all the leaves of a book. In this book he read of the many wonderful things that are in nature, about his native language, about faith, and about knowledge.

Comment on this quote: The swan, that brings happiness to people in this tale, is a recurring symbol of spirit in Andersen's oeuvre. In Danish, the last part of the last sentence, "about faith, and about knowledge.

", says "om Tro og Viden", i.e. "faith and knowledge", referring to the great clash between the words of the Bible and the modern science and philosophy. Andersen tried to unite the two, conceiving (science about) the wonders and facts of nature as proving the greatness of the Creator, thus reveiling a romantic view, inspired by the period and, among others, his friend, the Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted, who authored the book Aanden i Naturen ('The Spirit in Nature' – the laws of nature being the thoughts of God).

Example 2:

The Wind blew again, and the Sunshine said: "The swan of fortune flew over the deep gulf, where fishermen spread their nets. The poorest of the fishermen thought of getting married, and marry he did. And to him the swan brought a lump of amber. Amber has the power to draw things to it, and it drew the hearts to the fisherman's home. Amber makes the most wonderful incense, and there came a fragrant air as from a church, like a balmy breeze from God's nature. So the fisherman and his bride were happy and thankful in their quiet home. They were content with what little they had, and their life became a complete sunshine story."

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