The Emperor's New Clothes
H.C. Andersen; as S.T. Mendelson
. Stewart, Tabori & Chang . NY
PZ8.M522Em 1992 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This emperor is a monkey ruling over animals, and he is the "best dressed emperor the world had ever known." Everyone compliments him on how magnificently, richly dressed he is. He never suspects that everyone secretly thinks that he is quite silly and that his clothes show it. "There is no easy way to tell an emperor he has bad taste." The setting is India, with cats wearing veils attending the emperor and processions on elephants leading to something like the Taj Mahal. His mouse-spies alert him to clothing trends so that he astounds everyone with the newest fashion before it even is a fashion! One highly regarded mouse-tailor draws his attention. What is so extraordinary about his fashions? "The clothes I make are rich and rare and can only be seen by those of highest distinction." They are invisible to those unfit for their positions or unforgivably silly. Is it logical for the emperor to think that having such an outfit will tell him which of his subjects is unfit or silly? The tailor orders load after load of gold and precious stones for a "wondrous ensemble." The prime minister, sent to check out the new clothes, reflects when he sees nothing that he is "just a little silly, not unforgivably silly." He gives a glowing account of them. A "Day of National Salvation" is proclaimed to celebrate the new clothes. A child yells out at the celebration "But, Mama, the emperor is wearing a girdle!" The emperor realizes he is wearing nothing but holds his head high, adjusts his girdle, and marches magnificently back into the palace. This is his finest hour. (How so?) Mendelson has a great time with the animals' faces, suggesting their negative feelings about the emperor. Using animals solves the "nakedness" issue. The best illustration may be the "shocked silence" of the astonished dogs as they see the emperor pass naked in procession.