Biography of Hans Christian Andersen

© 2010, Lily Chang, Tiffany Kwan, Luann Pereira, Amanda Taylor
Ardizzone's Hans Andersen: Fourteen Classic Tales

Andersen Hans' was an 18th century writer whose poetic, sentimental, brisk, narrative style was an extremely popular in the form of writing during the Romantic Period. His works, although translated in English by Mary Howitt in 1846, were never intended of the child reading audience, more than it was intended to expose upper class Aristocratic societies. Critics have written that Hans, despite his "happy go lucky" attitude, was an emotionally starved man, who used the fairy tale not only to appropriate his sentiments, ideas and Christian ideological perspective, but also to mask his shrew and obnoxious characteristics. A German critic labeled his fairy tales as schrag, which can be translated to oblique, eccentric and weird. He often wrote fairy tales based on disturbing experiences that caught his attention, in both an ingenuous and truthful manner. One of his final tales "The Gardner and the Aristocrats," speaks to the idiocracy of the Artistocrats as Hans saw it, telling the tale of Larsen, a gardener, whose talent his aristocratic employers did not appreciate him. As an expose of the Aristocratic idiocracy he wrote:

"They knew that they were the employers and could fire Larsen. But they didn't do it, because they were good people, and there are lots of good people like them-which is a fortunate thing for every Larsen."

This passage taken from "The Gardner and the Aristocrats," demonstrates some of the ways Hans would cleverly challenge Aristocratic behaviour, but also demonstrated his deep seeded affixation with showing just how corrupt, materialistic and self-serving Aristocrats were, although he, due to the success of his writing, had become an Aristocrat himself. Hans Christian Andersen, was raised in a working class background with a bourgeouis education and value system. Although he was referred as by some critics as a narcissist, he worked with many talented professionals that assisted him in breathing 'life' into his tales through art and individuals that have influenced his spirituality that ultimately shaped his wonderful tale of the "Little Mermaid".