“The Emperor’s New Clothes” – Andersen’s fable remains a useful metaphor and illustrative lesson for today

By Michael Grossberg

One of the best choices that LFS members have made in voting annually in the Best Classic Fiction category, in my opinion, was the decision to induct “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in 2000 into the Prometheus Hall of Fame.

Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless anti-authoritarian parable isn’t merely a fable for children but a cautionary tale for everyone about the presumptions and illusions of power — not to mention the dangers of sheep-like conformity…. lessons that still apply today. (Perhaps especially today.)

Possibly because the Danish author’s 1837 story is often grouped somewhat diminutively with Anderson’s other stories as mere “children’s” literature or perhaps for other reasons, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” often seems to be overlooked or dismissed by contemporary columnists and bloggers as a still-resonant metaphor for the blind spots and knee-jerk tribalism of our increasingly conformist, censorious, culture-cancelling and fearful era.

So it’s a pleasure to come across a relatively rare reference to Andersen’s classic among today’s vast social commentary – moreover, not just a brief reference, but a full column from a regular Substack writer who makes the story central to his insightful and timely themes.

The column is even titled in honor of the fable: “The Emperor’s New Art.”

Continue reading “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – Andersen’s fable remains a useful metaphor and illustrative lesson for today

From Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, today’s discourse often evokes Prometheus-winning classics

By Michael Grossberg

You can’t get away from it these days, for good or ill.

Just about anywhere you look, from mainstream newspapers and magazines to Substack blogs and social-media references, writers, columnists and commentators frequently are referencing classic novels, stories and fables to forge timely metaphors about today’s trends.

George Orwell (Creative Commons license)

All too many prove to be cautionary warnings about the importance of telling the truth, in the midst of so many public falsehoods… and draw upon some of the most enduring Prometheus-winning works of fiction, from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Continue reading From Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, today’s discourse often evokes Prometheus-winning classics

Speaking truth to power in a funny fable: Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the 2000 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner

Here is an Appreciation for Hans Christian Andersen’s fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the 2000 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner for Best Classic Fiction:

By Michael Grossberg

It’s not just for kids.

Nor is Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” merely another children’s fable.

Few stories have resonated so deeply with all ages for so many generations that they become an integral part of international culture.

This sly libertarian fable has become so emblematic in folk wisdom that it’s inspired a common catchphrase: “The emperor has no clothes.”

Continue reading Speaking truth to power in a funny fable: Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the 2000 Prometheus Hall of Fame winner