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GardenOfParadiseEbook

Cover art for an eBook edition of "The Garden of Paradise".

"The Garden of Paradise" (Danish: "Paradisets Have") is a short fantasy story for children by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was first published on October 19, 1839, along with "The Flying Trunk" and "The Storks", in the anthology Fairy Tales Told for Children, New Collection, Second Booklet, 1839.

The story's protagonist is a young prince who becomes the first human being to visit the Garden of Paradise since Adam and Eve were banished from it, as related in the Biblical Book of Genesis. The fairy princess, who lives in the Garden of Paradise, tells the prince that he can stay there forever but only on the condition that he is able to resist temptation.

Plot

There is a young prince who has a better library than anyone else in the world. From his many books, he has learned about every country on Earth. He finds, however, that all of his books are lacking in information on one subject, that of the Garden of Paradise. The prince becomes greatly interested in the Garden of Paradise. He deeply regrets that, according to the Bible, mankind was banished from it. He also believes that, if he had been there, he would have been able to stop Adam and Eve from picking and eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and could have prevented sin from coming into the world.

While he is walking alone in a forest one day, the prince is caught in a storm. He seeks shelter in a cavern where an old woman is roasting a whole stag on a spit. The prince remarks to the old woman that her manners are rougher and coarser than those of all other women he has met. The old woman replies that she has to be tough in order to keep her four sons under control. Her four sons are the North Wind, the South Wind, the East Wind and the West Wind. If one of the old woman's sons misbehaves, she ties him up in a sack.

Vendest-Bertall

The prince flies on the back of the East Wind. 1876 illustration by the French artist Bertall.

One by one, the old woman's sons return to the cavern. They tell their mother about where they have been and what they have done. The North Wind has been to the Arctic. The West Wind has been to the Americas. The South Wind has been to Africa. The East Wind has been to China. As punishment for having done nothing but cause sandstorms and kill people, the old woman briefly ties the South Wind up in a sack until the East Wind persuades her to release him.

In response to his mother's question, the East Wind says that he will go to the Garden of Paradise the following day for the first time in a hundred years. The prince quickly befriends the East Wind and asks him more about the Garden of Paradise. The East Wind reassures the prince that the Garden of Paradise still exists but it has sunk far beneath the ground. No people have lived there since the time of Adam and Eve but it is now the home of a fairy princess. The East Wind offers to take the prince there the following morning. The prince accepts.

When he wakes up the following morning, the prince finds that he is already flying high above the ground on the East Wind's back. After a day's journey, they cross the Himalayas and head south to a warm land. The East Wind takes the prince to the entrance of a deep dark cavern and leads him through it. They eventually emerge in the Garden of Paradise. The prince sees beautiful flowers and huge leaves which resemble peacocks. All of the animals in the Garden of Paradise are unafraid of people and perfectly harmless. Lions and tigers frolic playfully.

The Garden of Paradise - Anne Anderson

The prince and fairy princess watch the East Wind leave the Garden of Paradise. Early 20th century illustration by Anne Anderson.

The East Wind presents the prince to the fairy princess. She takes him to her palace, in which the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil grows. The palace also has windows with moving pictures on them which depict all of human history. The fairy princess takes the prince on a boat ride, during which he sees scenes from the Alps, Egypt and Australia.

The prince asks the fairy princess if he can stay in the Garden of Paradise forever. She replies that it is possible but only if the prince can resist temptation. The fairy princess says that every evening for the next one hundred years, when the East Wind will come back again, she will try to tempt the prince. She will beckon to him. If he follows her, she will lead him to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He will see her sleeping at the foot of the tree. He will feel tempted to kiss her. If he kisses her, he will find that the Garden of Paradise has disappeared. He will find himself in a desert with the rain falling on him and the wind howling around him. He will also be aware that he will live in misery for the rest of his life. The fairy princess tells the prince that he should not follow her when she beckons to him because he will find it harder to resist temptation with each step he takes. The prince promises to ignore the fairy princess when she beckons to him.

After the East Wind leaves, the prince, the fairy princess and her many attendants dance. The fairy princess warns the prince that she will try to tempt him when the dance ends at sunset. In spite of the fairy princess' warning and in spite of his promise not to follow her, the prince is unable to resist temptation. He follows the fairy princess to the Tree of Knowledge. He finds her sleeping under the tree and kisses her. The prince briefly finds himself in a desert, as the princess said he would. Soon afterwards, he finds himself back in the forest near the cavern of the winds.

The mother of the wind scolds the prince for giving in to temptation on his first evening in the Garden of Paradise. She says that she would confine him to a sack if he were her son. Death suddenly appears. He says that the prince will be confined one day, although in a coffin rather than in a sack. He says that he will allow the prince some time to atone for his sins but will come to collect him one day when the prince least expects it. Death adds, however, that there is still hope for the prince. Providing that he lives a good and pious life for the rest of his days, he may yet get to go to the other Garden of Paradise which lies beyond the stars.

See also

External links

  • Text of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Garden of Paradise" in Danish and English on Wikisource.
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