I'm finishing, finally, Tending the Heart of Virtue by Vigen Guroian. It is wonderful, I've been reading it for a while because I carry it somewhere, leave it there, find it again, leave it somewhere else, but enjoy it oh so much. We're doing swim lessons in July so I am determined to finish it sooner rather than later.
In Chapter 5, Evil and Redemption, one of the books Guroian discusses is Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen,
Andersen seems to have believed that the good memories of childhood possess profound redemptive power and are capable of opening our hearts to goodness and love for the rest of our lives. I do not think this is mere sentimentality. A similar thought was expressed by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamozov. In the closing scene, which I have recalled many times when raising my own children, Alyosha Karamazov, the youngest brother, addresses a group of boys for whom he has become a mentor and role model. This speech is made following the funeral of one of their young comrades whom the boys had once taunted and persecuted but later were reconciled with and came to love. He says:
You must know that there is nothing higher, or stronger, or sounder, or more useful afterwards in life, than some good memory, especially a memory from childhood, from the parental home. You hear a lot said about your education, yet some such beautiful, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man stores up such memories to take into life, then he is saved for his whole life. And even if only one good memory remains with us in our hearts, that alone may serve one day for our salvation ... and keep [us] from great evil."p 123-124, bolding mine