If you doubted that Hans Christian Andersen’s faith influenced his writing, then read The Psyche. His religious references repeatedly arise throughout this lesser-known story. From his choice of words such as sin, redemption, creation, divine, and evil to the overall theme, Andersen’s spiritual base is evident.
The Psyche centers on Andersen’s debate on whether art utilizes God’s talents bestowed upon the artist or oversteps God’s role as master of creativity. The artist in Psyche destroys everything he creates until he achieves a flawless work of art. His dream is to become immortal through his perfect masterpiece.
Inspired by a young woman he encounters; the sculptor carves a marble statue in her likeness. His friends claim his work to be a true genius. And through the crafting of the statue, the artist falls madly in love with the woman he replicates.
Once completed, he presents the statue to the woman’s family. The artist then declares his love for the woman. But she responds with ridicule and condemnation. She banishes him from her home.
Humiliated and angry, the artist approaches the statue with the intention of destroying it when his friend convinces him otherwise. The artist buries the statue in a deep well instead never to gaze at it again.
Believing he offended God by creating something so beautiful, the artist enters a monastery. Later in life, he realizes his true sin was in throwing away the gift of artistry that God gave him.
Unlike many of Andersen’s stories, Psyche is beyond a child’s concept for bedtime reading but offers something to consider for adults. Artists often remark how a great work was inspired or directed within them by a divine force. Perhaps, the creation of a masterpiece comes only when an artist tunes into God.