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December 3rd, 2008

Shoe Fairy Tales: The Shoes of Fortune

Though we may long to escape our time and place, we would actually be unhappy in any other era or situation.That seems to be the moral of today’s Shoe Fairy Tale, “The Shoes of Fortune,” a substantial fantasy by Hans Christian Andersen.

The first section of “The Shoes of Fortune” tells of a gentleman who mistakenly dons a pair of shoes that have been enchanted by a handmaiden of Dame Fortune. These shoes will magically transport the wearer ” to the place or the period in which he most wishes to be.” As he has just spent the evening praising the middle ages as superior to his own era, our fellow walks out of the party and into the dark ages.

He commences on a terror-filled evening of stumbling around a town he no longer recognizes, encountering thatched roofs, fields where his house should be, and burghers who think he’s speaking Russian due to his strange requests.

The magical shoes are finally pulled off, and the gentleman returns to his time– and renewed contentment. Subsequent sections of “The Shoes of Fortune” follow more characters who learn that the sudden fulfillment of wishes often brings disappointment and heartbreak.

The lesson I derive from “The Shoes of Fortune” is that true happiness comes from inner peace, not wealth or power. The automatic fulfillment of any wish– even for shoes–won’t result in long-term happiness. (Still, a new pair of shoes can bring a fantastic temporary pick-me-up.)

Which modern shoes might H.C. Andersen choose for his story? I vote for Hunter Originals, shown above. Andersen’s magical shoes were galoshes which a retinue of dreamers stepped into for protection from the damp. Hunter’s original wellies will certainly fulfill that duty– and they might just make your dreams of fashionable winter garb come true.

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