Friday, September 18, 2015

Hans Christian Andersen around the World (in monuments)

The other day, Tabled Fables had this posted:
From passport couture: "I never expected Hans Christian Andersen to be in Chicago, but I'm excited to run into him."

I never expected to run into HCA in Chicago either, and I live here!! Well, not in the city proper, but I've lived in the Chicago area my whole life. I need to get to Lincoln Park at some point and see this in person!

I was also curious as to why we have a statue of HCA among a bunch of famous Chicago/Illinois people. Most people might go for the Grimms as the most famous fairy tale collectors (maybe they didn't want to make two statues??). I'm pretty sure Andersen never visited here or had any special Chicago connections...
View of Lincoln Park in Chicago

It didn't answer my question but I did find some more information on the history of the monument:

"Soon after members of Chicago’s Dania Society suggested that the city should erect a monument to Andersen in 1891, a committee formed and began raising money for the eight-foot-tall bronze sculpture. Donations included pennies and nickels from school children. The Hans Christian Andersen Monument Association hired Danish sculptor John Gelert (1852–1923), who had arrived in Chicago in 1887, and received his first commission for the Haymarket Riot monument (which was later considered controversial). Gelert later explained that “he had the advantage of studying several good photographs of Andersen taken at various times in his life.” Gelert portrayed the children’s author sitting with a book in hand and a swan at his feet, alluding to his world-famous story."

(emphasis mine)

Hans Christian Andersen, also with book and duck, can also be found in Manhattan:

And, as you might expect, in Copenhagen (where the famous Little Mermaid statue also is):

And a museum in Odense (HCA's birth town):

Through the Scandinavian Heritage Association in North Dakota:
And apparently, this sculpture in Odense was going to be drowned in a harbor??

HCA can also be found in Slovakia
This time without a duck and with a snail...and whatever that is on his back? Am I a bad fairy tale blogger if I don't know what the snail is from?

And Solvang, California

Out of curiosity, I tried to find other statues of the brothers Grimm to compare. It seems that they are most honored in monument form in Germany but not outside. (Let me know in the comments if I'm wrong!) Isn't that interesting, though? The Grimms are arguably more popular, is it just the cost issue of having to do both brothers verses one HCA?


  1. You might be interested in the course on Andersen that starts on FutureLearn in a month. Dunno how good it is going to be, but it's free, so I', definitely gonna try it

    1. Ooh thanks for letting me know! Not sure if I'll take the class myself but I'll definitely share this, and let me know what you think of it!

  2. I recently started a mission to explore original traditional fairy tales & am currently reading up on Hans Christian Andersen (unfortunately I'm too late to join that free online course... I'm comforting myself with the knowledge that I studied Andersen's fairy tales at uni for a week!).

    I loved seeing photos of the many HCA statues I never knew existed! Thanks for posting them - I hope I'll be able to see one in person someday.

    As for the reason why HCA got a statue & not the Grimm brothers, I can only hazard an educated guess. According to the intro in Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, ed. Neil Philip (London: The Reader's Digest, 2006), Andersen only retold 8 fairy tales from olden times. Unlike the Grimm brothers, who recorded existing folktales as a means of studying & preserving cultural heritage, Andersen dreamed up more than 150 original tales on his own. I think Andersen's many statues celebrate him as being one of the most gifted & influential writers of all time.

    The snail in the statue threw me as well! I only had a vague recollection of the tale it came from & had to look it up. It's from 'The Snail and the Rosebush' (1861). The thing on Andersen's shoulder is intriguing... Don't have time to work out what it is right now, but will find out!! (My first thought is 'The Shadow', because the statue overall carries quite a sombre aura!)

    1. Hey I thought I replied but I guess it didn't go through! Checked out your blog, it looks great! It's not as easy to get info on Andersen as it is on Grimms, I'm excited to read more!

      Also, good point about Andersen's fairy tales being original rather than collected. I think ironically we're more interested in what we perceive to be authentic folktales, like Grimms and Schonewerth, now, than literary tales. I wonder if that was a recent cultural shift? Or maybe I'm totally off.

      And, good catch with Snail and the Rosebush!!

    2. Happy New Year to you, Kristin!

      I didn't get a notification for your reply (is there an inbox I can't see on my Blogger dashboard??)! I was looking at my blog's pageviews & was surprised to see traffic coming from your Tales of Faerie. I didn't expect you to add my fledgling blog to your Other Faerie Tale Worlds list & am very grateful for your generosity & support. It didn't make sense that you wouldn't reply to my message, so I came to check!

      Regarding society's tastes in folklore, I honestly haven't a clue! My opinion is that unless you're willing to do your own digging, you'll know little to nothing about the origins of popular fairy tales. Before I studied Children's Literature at uni, I'm pretty sure I thought the Grimm Brothers were mythological figures & definitely didn't know that Andersen was telling his own original stories. More often than not, people's interests seem to be governed by Disney!

      I read 'The Shadow' & my hunch SEEMS to be right... When the Shadow becomes human, he's smartly dressed with a top hat. The thing that's part of Andersen's statue is definitely wearing a top hat... but I'm unsure if it is the Shadow, because it's so small! The Shadow is adult-human size in Andersen's tale!

      Things have been so busy, I haven't had the chance to read more of your blog. I'll go through it bit by bit whenever I can!

    3. Happy New Year to you, too! As for comment replies, I think there's usually a box you can check when you leave a comment to email replies to you. But it's different on different blogs and platforms.

      You're totally right that many people's ideas of fairy tales are HEAVILY Disney influenced...sometimes I'm surprised by people's misunderstandings about fairy tales/the Grimms, but I have to remember I had similar ideas before I started looking into things too!