Hans Christian Andersen European Witness Paul Binding

Publication date:
30 Apr 2014
Yale University Press
496 pages: 235 x 156mm

Buy this eBook

Yale eBooks are available in a variety of formats, including Kindle, ePub and ePDF. You can purchase this title from a number of online retailers (see below).

A new account of the brilliant and prolific Danish writer whose works captivated readers across Europe

Rarely does an American or European child grow up without an introduction to Hans Christian Andersen’s "The Ugly Duckling," "The Princess and the Pea," or "Thumbelina." Andersen began publishing his fairy tales in 1835, and they brought him almost immediate acclaim among Danish and German readers, followed quickly by the French, Swedes, Swiss, Norwegians, British, and Americans. Ultimately he wrote more than 150 tales. And yet, Paul Binding contends in this incisive book, Andersen cannot be confined to the category of writings for children. His work stands at the very heart of mainstream European literature.
The author considers the entire scope of Andersen’s prose, from his juvenilia to his very last story. He shows that Andersen’s numerous novels, travelogues, autobiographies, and even his fairy tales (notably addressed not to children but to adults) earned a vast audience because they distilled the satisfactions, tensions, hopes, and fears of Europeans as their continent emerged from the Napoleonic Wars. The book sheds new light on Andersen as an intellectual, his rise to international stardom, and his connections with other eminent European writers. It also pays tribute to Andersen’s enlightened values—values that ensure the continuing appeal of his works.

Paul Binding is a leading British literary critic and novelist and a renowned expert in Scandinavian literature. Among his books are studies of Ibsen, Lorca, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Eudora Welty. He lives in Shropshire, UK.

‘Both a novelist and probably our most distinguished writer on Scandinavian literature and culture, Binding has produced his best work to date in this study, and I recommend it to all who are interested in the creative process, the Nordic imagination and Anderson himself.’—Amanda Craig, Literary Review

‘Binding, as a scholar of English and Scandinavian literature, is uniquely placed to set Anderson’s work in its wider context.’—Juliet Townsend, The Spectator

'Binding has a deep insight'—Suzi Feay, The Guardian

"A satisfyingly interior portrait [built] around close readings of Andersen’s immense body of work."—New Yorker

‘His study offers detailed commentaries on his subject’s novels, travel writings and autobiographies alongside the more familiar stories, in a sustained attempt to reclaim Anderson’s work for grown-ups.’—Dinah Birch, TLS