The Land of Hans Christian Andersen — I just returned from a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, where I researched the connections between Hans Christian Andersen and Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s legendary amusement park. Before I set foot in Copenhagen, I knew that the city takes pride in its associations with Andersen, but it still came as a surprise to me how central Andersen and his fairy tales are to the culture of the city.
Andersen’s presence is felt throughout Copenhagen. The famous Little Mermaid statue serves as an icon for the city, but it is only one of many Andersen-related statues scattered throughout Copenhagen. A larger-than-life statue of Andersen is located on Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard, which borders Tivoli Gardens. It is sometimes hard to see this statue close up because it is usually surrounded by people who want to have their photograph taken next to this representation of Andersen. The residents of Copenhagen are also remarkably familiar with Andersen’s fairy tales, and they often make references to these tales in their everyday conversation.
My experiences in Copenhagen underscore for me the role that stories can play in building and maintaining a sense of community. Copenhagen is a large city with a population of well over a million residents, but nearly all of them feel connected to Andersen and his fairy tales. His stories are part of the glue that holds the city together. They readily share their love of his fairy tales with others, so outsiders who are familiar with Andersen’s fairy tales soon feel like they too have a place in this unique city. The motto for this city is “Wonderful Copenhagen,” and for me and other lovers of Andersen’s fairy tales, the motto rings true.
Kudos— As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Stephanie Devine, a recent graduate of our M.A. program, won the NANO Prize for her flash fiction piece titled “Of Felling.” Here is a link to an interview with her: http://nanofiction.org/weekly-feature/interviews/2016/05/five-questions-with-2015-nano-prize-winner-stephanie-devine.
Daniel Shealy recently presented a paper titled “‘Allurements of the Flesh’: Louisa May Alcott, Popular Culture and the Education of Youth” at the American Literature Association Conference in San Francisco.Quirky Quiz Question — Hans Christian Andersen spent most of his life in Copenhagen, but he was not born in Copenhagen. Do you know the name of the city in Denmark where Andersen was born and lived until he was fourteen.