Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy Birthday HCA!

Hans Christian Andersen by David Levine
Today - April 2nd - is the birthday of beloved literary fairy tale writer, Hans Christian Andersen. Born in 1805, he would have been 209 this year.

I saw this drawing by well known political and newspaper cartoonist David Levine and thought it went very well with one of Andersen's famous sayings, taken out of his autobiographical fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling:
"Being born in a duck yard does not matter, 
as long as you are hatched from a swan's egg!"
Speculation suggests that Andersen was the illegitimate son of prince Christian Frederik (later King Christian VIII of Denmark), and found this out some time before he wrote the book, and then that being a swan in the story was a metaphor not just for inner beauty and talent but also for secret royal lineage. (Edit FTNH: Theories still persist that Andersen was the bastard son of King Christian VII of Denmark.)
Bruno Bettelheim observes in The Uses of Enchantment that the Ugly Duckling is not confronted with the tasks, tests, or trials of the typical fairy tale hero. “No need to accomplish anything is expressed in “The Ugly Duckling”. Things are simply fated and unfold accordingly, whether or not the hero takes some action.” In conjunction with Bettelheim’s assessment, Maria Tatar notes in ’’The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen’’ that Andersen suggests the Ugly Duckling‘s superiority resides in the fact that he is of a breed different from the barnyard rabble, and that dignity and worth, moral and aesthetic superiority are determined by nature rather than accomplishment. (Source: Wikipedia)
Of course, that didn't stop Andersen from trying to accomplish as much as he could manage, to continually improve on his achievements and forever seek out recognition and acceptance. At the time of his death, however, he was already considered a National Treasure. And now, over 200 years later, he is even more beloved all over the world.

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