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Getting behind the stories (2)

By Xu Junqian (China Daily)

08:17, July 17, 2012

Sun Jian, professor of Nordic literature at Fudan University, with a fish-tailed visitor to Shanghai in 2010. Provided to China Daily

"And students always tell me how different it is to read these fairy tales after they have grown up," he adds.

Guo Xiaohan, a former cultural and lifestyle journalist in Beijing and now a published author, believes fairy tales were not meant for kids from the start - at least not only for them.

Guo has just published her own fairy-tale book, Little Love, featuring stories of television and abandoned Converse sneakers, dedicated to her own child and millions of other kids growing up in today's "concrete forest".

"While parents would love to see their kids morally and literally educated through those 'good-will-be-rewarded-with-good' tales, authors like Andersen were simply expressing their innocence through a more childlike way," says Guo.

"And grown-up readers of these tales are, like the author, re-appreciating the world through the eyes of a kid," she added.

As adults, Sun says, students can appreciate the serious implications of the original texts, versus the happily-ever-after Disney versions.

Founded in 2007, the Nordic Literature Research Institute of Fudan University is the first and best-known organization focusing on that region's literature study in China. Sun's program is affiliated with the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Andersen's hometown, and Sun will travel there this fall to explore further cooperation between the institutions.

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