We all have different ideas of what the Garden of Eden was like, but this story tells what Hans’ idea of the Garden of Eden was.
Once upon a time there was prince who enjoyed a good book and knowledge above anything else. His grandmother had told him stories about the garden of paradise. She had told him that the flowers were made of cakes and that they contained knowledge. If a person wishes to know geometry all they had to do was eat one of the cakes that had lessons on geometry. The prince lamented the fact that Eve had eaten of the tree of knowledge.
One evening he was traveling and a great storm came up. He found his way to a cave. There was an old woman there. She said her four sons were the four winds. They would be coming to dinner directly. She also had four sacks. If her sons were bad she would fold them up and put them into each of the sacks.
The North Wind came home first. He asked his mother who the prince was and she simply said, “Stop asking so many darn questions, he’s my guest.” The North Wind then proceeded to tell of his adventures. He had been blowing all over the north countries. He blew ships into icebergs and watched as the people ran away. The mother was not very pleased with her son’s terrible behavior.
The West Wind soon came in. He blew over the Americas. He told of how he blew buffalos and trees.
The South Wind soon came in. He had been blowing in Africa with the Hottentots and the Kaffirs. He blew a bunch of people away in a sand storm and buried their bodies in a mountain of sand. The mother was not pleased with the South Wind and put him in a sack.
The East Wind soon came in. He had been blowing in China, but he said something that made the prince’s ears perks up. He was going to blow to the Garden of Paradise the next day. The East Wind thought it would be alright if the prince went with him the next morning. The prince awoke to find himself on the East Wind’s back. He threw up his arms in surprise and general amazement, but the East Wind told him not to do that, otherwise he might fall off.
The East Wind said he has a present for the princess who lived in the Garden of Paradise. The phoenix had written out his life story on a palm leaf for her. He told of how he had set himself and nest afire.
The East Wind and the prince flew over the Himalayas and turned south just a bit. There all manner of trees were blooming. They came to a wall of rocks with vines hanging. The East Wind told the prince to bundle up because they would have to pass through and it would be very cold. The cave was very narrow at points, but they finally made it through. It was warm and beautiful. There were gold and silver fish. There were flowers. There were songs playing. There were palm trees. There were birds and peacocks. There were just all manner of animals there.
The fairy who was the princess soon made her appearance. The prince wanted to stay there and the fairy thought it might be alright. The East Wind would not come back for a hundred years. The princess talked to him for a bit. She showed him the paintings which moved around like photographs from a Harry Potter book. She showed him the Tree of Knowledge. It didn’t look quite so tempting. They took a boat and saw many countries just glide by.
The princess told him that he should examine his own heart if he desired to stay in the Garden of Paradise. She would go, but he should not follow. She would ask him to follow, but he should resist. If he kissed her, he would be doomed. He thought that he could handle all of this, but the first time the princess summoned him and asked him to follow he went. She tempted him with words telling him that man should know everything. He reasoned that it wasn’t a sin to follow the princess. She threw off her clothes and got into the tree of knowledge. The prince could not resist following her and then he kissed her.
When he kissed her a large noise came about. The Garden of Paradise sunk into the ground. THe prince found himself outside of the cavern from whence he had started his journey. There was a strong old man there with black wings. His name was Death. He said he would put the prince in his coffin, a black one, but not yet. The prince would have to perform a trial once every thousand years to either prove himself or sink deeper into sin.
I would like to point out that not everyone thinks Eve did a bad thing when she partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Some suppose that if she had not, she and Adam would still be in the Garden of Eden by themselves and none of us would exist. It would be awfully selfish of them to continue in the Garden of Eden while none of us ever got a chance to exist, but that’s just one explanation for Eve and her fruit.
The South Wind says he was blowing around with the Hottentots. The Hottentots are actually the Khoikhoi. The term Hottentot is considered derogatory these days. The Dutch settlers called the people Hottentots in an imitation of their language. The Khoikhoi people were extensive farmers. They were doing quite well for themselves before the Dutch showed up.
The South Wind also mentions that he was blowing on land belonging to the Kaffir people. The Kaffir people aren’t necessarily one related group of people. They Kaffirs were people who had read the Qu’ran, understood it, and then rejected it. Basically, they were labeled Kaffirs because they rejected religious teachings. In a highly religious society, it’s likely that they would have lived apart from everyone else as a form of shunning, or even as a choice.
When the Phoenix is being described this sentence is used, “..the old phoenix set fire to his own nest, and sat upon it while it was burning, like a Hindoo widow.” The part I want to talk about is, of course, the part about the “Hindoo widow.” This actually refers to a practice, which used to be a common thing. When a man died, a woman would sit on top of his funeral pyre and burn with him. It’s been practiced in multiple Asian cultures, but Hans on refers to the Hindu culture. The practice is known as Sati or Suttee. It has quite the history. The practice has been outlawed, but every once in a while a woman kills herself when he husband is being cremated.
The term New Holland is used in this story, so what exactly is New Holland? Well, New Holland was Australia. It was called by that name until about 1825. The name fell out of favor as Australia was eventually called Australia. The story also says that it was a fifth of the world, which just isn’t true. Australia is a fraction of the world, but not as much as a fifth. Australia is only 5.2% of landmass on the Earth. The Dutch did travel and explore quite extensively, but not as much as others. During the time in which Hans published maps were getting to be more accurate. Hans might not have known that the term New Holland had fallen out of favor. The world would rapidly become closer and more connected during the time that Hans was alive. This wasn’t simply a case of Hans not doing enough research, although I’m sure that played a part; it’s a case of the information possibly not being within Hans’ reach. There might not have been a place where Hans could have gone to in order to get the information he needed.
I have a question–how did this fairy person get into the Garden of Paradise? Let’s be clear about something–the Garden of Paradise is The Garden of Eden. If you read in the scriptures, the Garden was closed off, correct? Yes, that’s correct. What was it–a flaming sword that turned in all directions? Yes, that sounds right. How did this woman get in there? Look, it’s clear that she’s not good. She acts good, but she’s not good. She’s a temptress as much as the serpent was a tempter when Adam and Eve were in the garden. She invited this prince to stay in the garden knowing that he would fail. Everyone knew he would fail. When he got back to the cavern, the old woman was not surprised to see that he had failed on the first night.
Some temptation is just too great. Put a piece of chocolate in front of someone and tell them not to eat it, but leave it unwrapped and everything and looking all delicious. How many people are not going to eat the chocolate? A lot of people would eat the chocolate. This fairy/princess/temptress/whatever she is, set the prince up for failure. He literally had no ability to succeed. It’s like when you have a choice, but you really don’t have a choice.
To top all of this off, Death is going to screw with this guy. He’s going to come back every thousand years and test this poor fellow. Death won’t even take him to his grave. He just has to live knowing that he screwed up really badly. Who wants to live after knowing that?
Look, being embarrassed is one thing, but screwing up so badly that you screw lots of other people over is a big thing; it’s difficult to live with. I know this isn’t the greatest example, but think of investors who made an investment with lots of other people’s money and it turned out that investment wasn’t so great and the investor lost all of their money. He then jumps off the top of his office building because he can’t handle the fact that he lost all of that money belonging to all of these other people. This story is like that. This guy made the Garden of Paradise sink into the Earth. If that’s not screwing up big time I don’t know what is.
This guy is essentially screwed for forever because some fairy temptress set him up to fail. That really sucks. It’s not fair at all. Whatever you do don’t eat this piece of chocolate. By the way…do you want a piece of chocolate? That’s just wrong. You should quit smoking. Do you want a cigarette? Same thing.
Don’t touch the red button. Don’t do it. Don’t touch the red button. I repeat don’t touch the red button.
…you know, maybe one little touch won’t hurt. Just touch it once, really quick.
dutch exploration, east wind, forbidden fruit, four winds, fruit, garden of eden, garden of paradise, hottentot, new holland, north wind, prince, sati, south wind, temptation, The Garden of Paradise, The Garden of Paradise hans christian andersen, tree of knowledge, west wind
Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian