Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller / Edition 1

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Drawing on letters, diaries, and other original sources (many never before translated from the Danish), Jackie Wullschlager shows in this compelling biography how the writings of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) -- darker and more diverse than previously recognized -- reflected the complexities of his life, a far cry from the "happily ever after" of a fairy tale. As we follow in his footsteps from Golden Age Copenhagen to the princely courts of Germany and the villas of southern Italy, Andersen becomes a figure every bit as fascinating as a character from one of his stories -- a gawky, self-pitying, and desperate man, but also one of the most gifted storytellers the world has ever known.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Andersen (1805-1875) and his work receive perceptive and uncondescending treatment from Financial Times arts critic Wullschlager (Inventing Wonderland). In his autobiographies (and autobiographical novels), Andersen portrayed his life as a Danish Horatio Alger story, "the poor shoemaker and washerwoman's son" who rose to international prominence through a talent for storytelling. While that summary is accurate enough in itself, that talent for storytelling led him to embellish some details, such as family stories about aristocratic connections, while obscuring others, particularly his unrequited attachments to the Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind and a series of stern and serious Copenhagen gentlemen. Gauche and gawky, self-absorbed and self-pitying, Andersen nonetheless had his own personal charm and could hold audiences spellbound at his readings. As one of the first Danish writers with an international reputation, he parlayed his fame into visits with assorted German princes and the likes of Franz Liszt and Charles Dickens. Wullschlager gives a colorful travelogue of his restless journeys in Italy, France and England and contrasts them with his upbringing and adulthood in the parochial Denmark, which, as Wullschlager notes, felt stifling to his romantic temperament. Yet he could work only in his homeland and needed its praise to the end of his life. That praise usually was for him as a children's author, but Wullschlager also reads into the adult themes and artistry of The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen, as well as Andersens's adult novels, giving him full credit as a real, adult person. 24 pages of photos. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Danish author Hans Christian Andersen was one of the greatest fairy-tale writers of all time, with stories like "The Ugly Duckling," "The Emperor's New Clothes," and "The Tin Soldier" defining him as an all-time great in the world of children's literature. Wullschlager, a literary critic and European arts correspondent for the Financial Times, has written the first major biography of this consummate storyteller. She shatters what has become the standard image of the author as a "sweet-natured, pathetic entertainer." In fact, Andersen lived a difficult life and never found real satisfaction with his success. Wullschlager succeeds brilliantly at portraying Andersen's inner mind and uncovering his hopes and fears and details the historical context that served to produce such a grand body of literature. Relying on letters, diaries, and original German and Danish accounts, Wullschlager has written a biography that will be a standard study for years to come. Recommended for all libraries. Ron Ratliff, Kansas State Univ., Manhattan Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A well-researched biography of the famed children's author, by Financial Times critic Wullschlager (Inventing Wonderland, 1995). Born to a poor washerwoman and a young shoemaker in tiny Odense, Denmark, in 1805, Andersen was an effeminate, unattractive boy who left home at 14 to seek fame on the stage in Copenhagen. Unsuccessful as an actor, he managed to find a wealthy patron who provided for his education and helped launch his writing career. He made little mark as an author until 1835, when he turned to the fairy tales that would ultimately bring him fame. Drawing heavily on Andersen's diaries and correspondence, Wullschlager paints a revealing portrait: an over-sensitive and essentially child-like man who was conflicted about his ambiguous sexuality and haunted by his humble origins. Especially interesting is Andersen's complicated relationship with his primary audience; he wrote for adults and was annoyed that the public looked upon him as a children's author. Andersen traveled widely, and the accounts of his visits are a source of some humor (and a fair amount of insight): he was once introduced to fellow children's author Jakob Grimm (who had never heard of him), and was received as a London houseguest by Charles Dickens (who subsequently pinned up the note, "Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks—which seemed to the family AGES!"). A popular but lonely man, Andersen left his entire estate to a lifelong unrequited love, and among the hundreds who attended his funeral there was apparently not a single blood relative. A solid and worthwhile biography. (24 b&w photos) Reader's Subscription featured selection
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226917474
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 506
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jackie Wullschlager is Deputy Literary Editor of the FT, and one of their principal reviewers. Her last book was INVENTING WONDERLAND: THE LIVES AND FANTASIES OF LEWIS CARROLL, EDWARD LEAR, JM BARRIE.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgements xiii
Map of Andersen's Denmark, c. 1850 xv
Map of Andersen's Europe, c. 1850 xvi
Introduction: Life Stories 3
1 The Country, 1805-1812 7
2 Master Comedy-Player, 1812-1819 24
3 The City, 1819-1822 35
4 Aladdin at School, 1822-1827 59
5 Fantasies, 1827-1831 80
6 My Time Belongs to the Heart, 1831-1833 103
7 Italy, 1833-1835 122
8 First Fairy Tales, 1835 147
9 Walking on Knives, 1836-1837 167
10 Le Poete, C'est Moi! 1837-1840 179
11 I Belong to the World, 1840-1843 197
12 Jenny, 1843-1844 219
13 Winter's Tales, 1844-1845 242
14 The Princes' Poet, 1845-1846 262
15 The Shadow, 1846-1847 280
16 Lion of London, 1847 295
17 Between the Wars, 1848-1851 323
18 Weimar Revisited, 1851-1856 337
19 Dickens, 1856-1857 351
20 Experiments, 1858-1859 361
21 Kiss of the Muse, 1860-1865 373
22 Aladdin's Palace of the Present, 1865-1869 399
23 So Great a Love of Life, 1869-1875 418
Sources 441
Notes 443
Select Bibliography 473
Index 477
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