Feature a Guest

Last week we were asked at the writing 101 course to invite a guest blogger. I quickly found Gema who has a very fine blog called Word Nerd. Please have a look at her writing. She had left a comment on my post on “Updating your readers over a cup of coffee” about how she loved the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. I got curious because I have heard that his fairy tales were very translated very badly. I contacted Gema on mail to ask for her views on this. Here it comes:
Good afternoon Maria, 
I’d be delighted to answer your questions! 
I like H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales because they allow me to connect with a part of childhood that’s normally eclipsed by adolescence. It’s a way to nourish my inner-child, to admire the endless possibilities of imagination, to be taken away into a realm where the fantastical blends with the mundane. I love to lose myself in a world where anything is possible.
Some of my favorite tales are the Elf of the Rose, The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Emperor’s New Suit, The Daisy, and The Nightingale. I’m halfway through the collection. There still are a few gems I need to dig up.
Is there anything I’d like to know about Denmark? Tons. To what extent did the Danish landscape provided the foundation for Andersen’s fairy tales? I understand most fairy tales are Man vs. Nature. In Iceland, people are often inspired by the landscape. Sigur Rós, for instance, are responsible for producing some of the most beautiful melodies I’ve ever happened upon. Also, are you guys superstitious? What are some of your most interesting legends? If I were to visit Denmark, where would you recommend I go?
All your best,

My answer on mail came here :

Thank you Gema for your quick answer!

I am going to include it in a post next week when we get directions for it.
H.C.A did use the landscape and I will try to post some pictures on the future post. What strikes me most about him is the way he sees through people and let trees and animals have human personalities. Like Shakespeare in England he has said expressions that are still in use today. He had a very poor background himself. His father was a war invalid and came home years after a war. H.C.A. was on his own and looked as a ridiculous  young person who hadn’t learnt to read and write, but thought he could dance. But rich good people helped him through schooling and were caring for him.
I can’t think of superstition as I dislike that as a born again Christian.
Much love from me Maria
I would add now that H.C.A. must have suffered immensely from a very poor and lonely background. All his life he toured around at rich people’s estates and those who accepted him let him stay for many weeks at a time and let him make a lot of entertainment for the children like reading from his fairy tales or cutting very fine silhouettes with a fine pair of scissors. I am convinced that if you lack something essential at early childhood it is difficult to hide it later. He showed his lack as an  excessive dependency on people he wanted to be with, and he was never able to find a life partner.
 I enjoy the fairy tales where he describes man’s nature in material things like in the ” The Darning Needle”
The Darning Needle

The Darning Needle

 He makes the needle a ridiculous figure. “The Steadfast Tin Soldier” has a lovely heart in spite of being handicapped with only one leg, and the very sad “The Little Match Girl “. How I wept as a school girl seeing that on an old film!
He found out that the fairy tales were his unique way of telling a story primarily to adults, though also children could enjoy a lot of them. He reveals the snobbishness of many people who thought they were so wise and clever, but in fact they had never seen anything than their own neighborhood when H.C.A. had travelled a lot in Denmark and in Europe. He also highlights the people who are downtrodden and not acknowledged like himself. Examples on that are “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Mermaid.” and the Little Match girl”. Illustrations by Vilhelm Pedersen.
Iceland is a Nordic country like Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. But the nature in Iceland is much more rough and dangerous that I think nature plays a bigger role in their literature.
Much of the nature described in H.C.A.’s fairy tales can still be found in the country side and specially at the many big estate buildings we still have to be seen here. At such places  you can go into the park and see a sight from a bench where it says ” Here H.C.A. has sat”, some estate buildings have guided tours inside and then you can see ” H.C.A. slept in this room and he wrote this fairy tale here”.
Dependent on the time you have visiting Denmark I would recommend you to make a priority to visit the capital Copenhagen where many sites are concentrated and Odense the town where H.C.A.’s birth house can be seen. In a few days I will be running a Half Marathon in Odense and I will bring new pictures from there in that occasion.



  1. I too spent much of my childhood with HCA where I could blend imagination and hope with reality. after Stenstrup, I too wonder about the landscape. Your photo above of Viborg appears to be in the mountains?


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