Every year, NPR asks a writer to compose an original story with
a Christmas theme. In 2008, Gregory Maguire reinvented the Hans
Christian Andersen classic "The Little Match Girl" for a new time
and new audiences.
When it was first translated from Danish and published in
England in the mid-nineteenth century, audiences likely interpreted
the Little Match Girl's dying visions of lights and a grandmother
in heaven as metaphors of religious salvation. Maguire's new piece,
entitled "Matchless," reilluminates Andersen's classic, using his
storytelling magic to rekindle Andersen's original intentions, and
to suggest transcendence, the permanence of spirit, and the
continuity that links the living and the dead.