Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What did Andersen actually write? A new draft translation of 'The Princess and the Pea'

The princess and the pea

There was once a prince – he wanted a princess for himself, but she had to be a real princess. So he travelled all over the world to try and find one, but everywhere there was something wrong – there were plenty of princesses, but he couldn’t quite make out if they were real princesses or not; there was always something that wasn’t quite right. So he went back home, but he felt so miserable because he wanted so much to have a real princess.
One evening a terrible storm blew up, thunder rolled and lightning flashed. The rain came pouring down – it was really dreadful! Then there came a knock at the city gate, and the old king went to open it.
A princess was standing outside. But good gracious me, what a state she was in from the rain and the awful weather! The water streamed down from her hair and her clothes, ran in at the toes of her shoes and out at the heels – and what’s more she said she was a real princess.
‘We’ll soon find out about that!’ the old queen thought to herself, but she didn’t say anything, just went into the bedroom, took off all the bedclothes and placed a pea at the bottom of the bed, then took twenty mattresses, placed them on top of the pea, and a further twenty eiderdowns on top of the mattresses.
It was there the princess was to sleep for the night.
In the morning, they asked her how she had slept.
‘Oh, simply awfully!’ the princess replied. ‘I’ve hardly slept a wink all night! Goodness only knows what there must have been in the bed. I’ve been lying on something hard and am absolutely black and blue all over! It’s simply awful!’
Then they could see that she was a real princess, for she had noticed the pea through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eiderdowns. Nobody could be that tender-skinned unless she was a real princess.
So the prince made her his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess, and the pea ended up in the cabinet of curiosities, where it can still be seen – providing no one has taken it.
Now, that was a real story!

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