"H. C. Andersen i Grønland".
This paper has been published in Andersen og Verden, Odense 1993.
Hans Christian Andersen in GreenlandInge Kleivan
(summary for pages 337-45)
When one considers Greenland's close connection with Denmark, it is not surprising that Hans Christian Andersen is well-known in Greenland. The poem "The Dying Child" was published in Greenlandic translation as early as 1829, whereas the first tale was not published in Greenlandic until 1879. In the course of time a selection of his tales and a few poems have been translated into Greenlandic and published in journals and schoolbooks and as special collections and picture books. The most comprehensive collection published in 1960 and 1965 includes 11 tales in the first volume and 20 in the second volume. The translator was Frederik Nielsen, a distinguished Greenlandic writer. Altogether 40 tales have been translated into Greenlandic, some of them several times. "The Seventh Evening" in Picture Book without Pictures which takes place in East Greenland has also appeared in Greenlandic. However, neither Andersen's novels nor travel books nor any of his autobiographies have been published in Greenlandic, nor does there exist any biography or critical book about his works in Greenlandic except for a few biographical articles.
As a rule the translators have not elaborated on the text. Sometimes, however, certain details have been omitted or exchanged for details more familiar to the readers. Andersen's tales have also occasionally been transmitted orally and adapted to Greenlandic surroundings.
Young Greenlandic students in Denmark conscious of their ethnic and cultural background have recently voiced the opinion that children in kindergartens in Greenland should listen to Greenlandic legends and myths instead of Hans Christian Andersen's tales. However, their primary goal was to make sure that Greenlandic children become familiar with their forefathers' stories that were once orally transmitted, not to exclude Andersen's tales. As a consequence of the introduction of Home Rule in Greenland in 1979, Greenlandic society itself is responsible for what is going on in kindergartens as well as in most other parts of society.
Greenlandic myth, legends and tales have been published in Greenlandic since the middle of the l9th century in special collections and included in Greenlandic journals and schoolbooks. However, the students are no doubt right in maintaining that Andersen's tales take priority in the kindergartens in Greenland, if the expression "Andersen's tales" is used synonymously not only with Danish children's books but also with other European children's books. Part of the problem is that - because of international co-production - some of the Greenlandic translations of Andersen and Grimm and others are published in large-sized editions including many illustrations in colour, whereas the recent four volume publication of Greenlandic legends does not look attractive in the same way, being published without any illustrations at all.
The eagerness of certain Danes to spread the knowledge of Hans Christian Andersen has occasionally resulted in including articles about episodes of Andersen's life and tales not particularly fit for translation and publication in Greenlandic journals. However, generally speaking many Greenlanders have enjoyed reading and listening to Andersen's tales. Andersen's tales and poems have also been an inspiration for Greenlandic writers familiar with the Danish language who have adapted some of his ideas to the cultural and natural surroundings of Greenland.
Even if many Greenlanders are conscious and proud of the part of their background that represents a heritage from their Inuit forefathers, there is no doubt that in the future familiarity with Andersen's tales will also be part of the cultural background of Greenlanders.