Monday, September 12, 2005

Hans Christian Andersen Danish Royal Collection

Hans Christian Andersen was born 200 years ago in Odense, Denmark. He is best remembered for his fairy tales --- Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid & The Emperor's New Clothes --- to name but a few. By all accounts, he was not happy being cast as a fairy tale writer. He tried his hand as a singer, dramatist, poet, novelist and travel writer. He was celebrated during his lifetime across Europe, moreso outside of his homeland and he ultimately spent some 9 years abroad. Charles Dickens, who saw Andersen off after his first visit to London, was said to have possibly modelled the obsequious character Uriah Heep from David Copperfield on Andersen.

Andersen was a product of two towns, Odense and Copenhagen and also of two ages. He grew up poor under a monarchy, was educated through royal patronage and was accepted by the upper classes once his fame was established. But throughout his works, Andersen projected a trust in the movement towards humanitarian attitudes and enlightenment. On the whole, Andersen's stories were dark and full of tension, moving between sensitivity and irony, wit and cruelty but even with a pessimisstic reading Andersen was a protagonist for human nature (gently suffused with a non-dogmatic religious belief) being a great measure of value especially in the artistic world.

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