The Hans Christian Andersen Center

A Popular Edition of Hans Christian Andersen's Diaries - Expectations, Problems and Methods

Antje Mayfarth

(summary for pages 329-36)

In this paper I present some observations made during the preparation of a new two volume edition of Hans Christian Andersen's diaries for German readers. A first German edition by Heinz Barüske came out in 1980 (Fischer Taschenbuchverlag).

Two topics will be discussed:

As Andersen's diaries are considered the most important source of facts about his life, the question arises as to the way in which an abundance of observations of contemporary social life and his reflections on it can be reduced from ten volumes to two.

In my opinion the criteria for selecting must be subjective.

There are two ways of arranging a popular edition:

  1. To present the selection of Andersen's diaries independently of his other books as Heinz Barüske did. Barüske started with the author's first notes from Meisling's Latin school and ended with those from his triumphal journey through Germany in 1844-45. This implies that only a few notes about Andersen's later years appear. Barüske was concentrating on Andersen's struggle for recognition as a poet throughout Europe.
  2. To present the diaries as part of Andersen's other books, which have been edited by Kiepenheuer Verlag, Leipzig. In this case the diaries are related to the author's travel books, to his autobiography and to his fairy tales. Different criteria for selecting are needed. We need not focus on primary biographical facts, but rather on Andersen's reflections: his reaction to contemporary intellectual and cultural trends, the history of literary relations, his contacts with other poets and with his readers at home and abroad. This alternative is useful for elucidating Andersen's remarks about his own literary production. Although these are few, they form the basis for discovering when, where, and under what conditions he wrote. Andersen's reaction to the reception of his works in Denmark and abroad is emphasized.

Furthermore the paper deals with the following problems:

Finally there will be a comment about the editorial arrangement of such a selection, an index of names and annotations prepared as an aid for readers.

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