Saturday, December 11, 2021

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian AndersonHans Christian Andersen 
by Rumer Godden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this biography for 

I knew nothing about Andersen's life before reading this book so I have no idea how accurate a depiction it is. I decided to read it because the library I work at owns it. It was a very charmingly written book and read more like a fairy tale than a biography. As she did in Black Narcissis, Godden included details of the settings in her tale:
"The clouds often floated below the house; there was stillness and rest in the dark pine trees standing round it, in the big forests that led away; there was beauty in the bright green grass and the juicy violet-colored crocus; there was peace in which to write his poem, the poem that haunted him and that he had begun in Paris." (p. 130)
There are numerous sections of Andersen's work quoted throughout to illustrate various points which was helpful as I was not that familiar with his writings. There are a lot of places where we are told very specifically what Andersen was thinking about a person or an experience. I presume there must have been letters and diaries, but this isn't stated in the book and some of them are from periods of Andersen's life before he went to school which seems odd. Godden maintains a distinct authorial voice throughout the book, she is clearly telling us about this man rather than immersing her readers in the episodes to see things for themselves. This is helpful to the reader as the significance of events to Andersen's later development is explicit. 
Overall I enjoyed this book and plan to read some more of Andersen's tales. Godden does offer some helpful advice regarding translations and suggests that the ones by R. P. Keigwin are the closest in style to the original Danish and that the style is an important part of what makes these stories special.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds very interesting, I don't know much about Hans Christian Andersen either.


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