From the Hans Christian Andersen biography "The Life of Hans Christian Andersen. Day By Day", written by DPhil Johan de Mylius:
1834The Journey cont.
From Munich and Home
Around the time of New Year
Around the time of New Year, HCA feels very much like a failure. This is due to the heavy criticism, both by correspondence and in public spheres, directed at his work, Agnete. He is especially disturbed by letters from Jonas and Edvard Collin,
"admonishing, in a harsh and patronising tone, filled with temper. He [Edvard] informed me that my honour was now tainted. Agnete was disastrously misshapen, a mediocre mishmash. This shook my soul deeply, I was so overwhelmed that all my emotions were in turmoil, my belief in God and man. The letter caused me to despair deeply."
(the diary, 6th January)
Both Bødtcher and Hertz try to console and cheer him up. Hertz even with recognition of "my descriptions of nature, where my humour is characteristically exposed" (the diary, 7th January). He also visits Thorvaldsen, who, quite symbolically, is working on a bas-relief depicting "Justice on its wagon". Thorvaldsen consolingly places his hand, which is covered with clay, on HCA's shoulder, and instructs him to take no notice of ignorant criticism:
"Feel the strength within you, do not be led by the opinion of the masses, but move calmly onwards"
(The diary, 8th January).
This yearIn this year, the royal ordinance of 1831 regarding advisory assemblies of the Estates of the Realm is put into effect. The atmosphere resulting from this political innovation is reflected in the novel O.T. from 1836.
4th - 6th January
HCA is painted by Albert Küchler ("it seems to be quite a good likeness", the diary). When the painting is finished not long before the 20th, Küchler gives it to HCA.
HCA feels rather ill at ease when a young 16 year-old model appears at the painter's studio with her mother, so that Küchler may "check the appearance of her chest". When the mother;
"exposed her, I felt my whole body quiver. Küchler noticed that I grew pale, and asked me if I was quite well"
(the diary, 6th january).
Küchler draws HCA for private use.
Travels with Hertz and others to Naples.
Arrival in Naples. Whilst here, HCA is confronted with a side of his personality which he dared not acknowledge: his sensuality, which becomes a daily temptation, as he is often offered both boy and girl prostitutes on the streets. Spiritually speaking, at this time he is treading on the thin crust above the glowing lava.
At the theatre San Carlo, he hears Malibran, the famous singer, in Bellini's Norma and in a few other operas. Impressions from this experience are reflected in the description of Annunziata in Improvisatoren (The Improvisatore). Using terms which not only disclose HCA's view on art but are also a forerunner of "Otte og tyvende aften"(The Twenty-eighth Evening) in "Billedbog uden Billeder"(Picture Book without Pictures), HCA says of Malibran (in a letter dated 18th March to Signe Læssøe):
"Hers is not one of those fine voices that surprise, but rather a heart full of tones, which to me is far more worthy. It was as if I was listening to a swan, now beating its wings against streams of air, high in the sky, then diving down into the deep ocean and crushing the hollow breakers, whilst its breaking heart bled with tones".
Climbs Vesuvius at Herculanum. HCA and Hertz ride up to the second largest cone and then walk upwards for about an hour, with ashes up to their knees. In order to see the new torrent of fire, they have to venture out on the crust covering the lava from the day before:
It was horrifying. We felt the crust burning right through our boots, it was almost unbearable, and in many places there were cracks, frightfully long, which we had to cross, and within these we saw nothing but red fire; had the crust disintegrated, we would have drowned in a sea of fire. Two feet away from us, the red lava spouted like a waterfall and flowed down the mountain. Fire and great stones flew from the crater and drizzled down the cone. The sulphurous steam was suffocating and with the earth burning beneath our feet, we could only stand still for 2 minutes; my life was in the hands of God and I felt exhilarated
(addition dated 25 February in a letter for Henriette Wulff)
3rd - 15th March
Expeditions, e.g. to Pompeii, Paestum, the recently discovered Blue Grotto (6th March) and the villa of Tiberius.
From Naples back to Rome, where HCA spends Easter.
Departure from Rome. Via Florence, Bologna, Padova to Venice (where he remains from 20th - 22nd April). HCA sums up his impressions of Italy in a letter to Signe Læssøe, written 8th April in Florence:
"The heart could dream here, when icy storms remain in the North. Here, the sea is like a sky for a god, the clouds are a fantasy of colours, the air is the nectar of gods, grapes are ripened by the earth, pictures smile from the walls of houses, towns wake from the dead, one lives in the distant past, accompanied by the present, and every marble god is a volva [clairvoyant woman in Norse mythology], heralding the fate of the future. Here is the home of imagination; the North is of course the home of reason; but as I really am a visionary, I only feel at home in my true native land. I have an unspeakable fear of being in Copenhagen again, I can foresee everything and know how I will react; I am no longer the child I was. But the writing is on the wall and I must, after all, fulfil my destiny".
In the same letter, HCA mentions the futility of worrying about affairs of the heart:
"After all, you of course know that I am not a handsome man, and shall always be poor, and these are matters of concern to any person, no matter who their heart longs for, and that is sensible enough".
HCA continues on this subject, relating it to a mixture of aesthetics and personal life:
"Ørsted says that his and my aesthetics are very different; while I grasp at the dissonance of the world, he feels the poet should seek harmony; but I am almost sure that I myself am a part of the world's dissonance; I have shed too many tears of heartache to feel harmony or achieve that which I strove for. You probably do not understand, but I dare not speak more frankly".
Further via Padova and Verona to Trient. Via Brenner to Innsbruck and from here to Munich.
1st - 31st May
Visits Schelling, the philosopher, (the instigator of the romantic movement's philosophy of nature, concerning the spirit as conscious nature and nature as an unconscious spirit. This philosophy is, in various ways, taken over by Steffens and Ørsted, and is also influential in HCA's fairy-tale "The Little Mermaid" ("Den lille Havfrue")).
From Munich, via Salzburg and Linz to Vienna.
10th June - 8th July
20th, 23rd, and 26th July
Visits Castelli, the poet:
"He is undoubtedly the model of a true Viennese. All the fine, distinctive characteristics of these people are found in him: good natured, a pleasant sense of humour, loyal and devoted to his Emperor".
Visits the poet Grillparzer.
Hears the orchestra of Johann Strauss, senior:
"In Hitzing I saw and heard Strauss, as he stood there in the midst of his orchestra, like the heart of the entire positive organ, it was as though the melodies streamed through him, out of every limb, he eyes lit up, he was the source of life and the leader here, that was clear".
Departure from Vienna to Prague (11-14th July). From here via Teplitz, Dresden and Potsdam to Berlin (24-26th July).
Visits Chamisso. His collected poems have just been released and include translations of:
"3 of his favourite poets, and these are: Victor Hugo, Béranger and H.C. Andersen. Of my work, his book includes: 1) "Little Lise at the Well"["Lille Lise ved Brønden"], 2) "Violets in March"["Martsviolerne"], 3) "The Thief"["Tyveknægten"], 4) "The Soldier"["Soldaten"], and 5) "The Fiddler"["Spillemanden"]. I received a copy of the beautifully bound book, and my arrival in Berlin was announced in one of the aesthetic magazines"
(letter to Henriette Wulff dated 1st August).
Departure from Berlin. Via Hamburg and Kiel and from here with the steamship Frederik VI back to Copenhagen (arrival 3rd August).
Stays temporarily with Commander Wulff at the Naval Academy, in Bredgade.
A visit to the Ingemanns in Sorø.
Moves in at 280 Nyhavn, now no. 20, on the 2nd floor, lodging with Karen Sophie Larsen, for the price of 8 rdl. a month.
Applies for a position at the Royal Library.