Hans Christian Andersen and his Social Reception in Austria
This article documents Hans Christian Andersen’s gradual development from being a young unknown Danish writer to becoming socially accepted and acknowledged as an integral part of Austrian social and artistic life. The point of departure is his second novel Kun en Spillemand (Andersen, 1837/1988; Only a Fiddler) of which two chapters are set in Vienna. This process of so-called acculturation, i.e. the appropriation of various social, psychological and cultural elements of the country visited, begins with Andersen’s first stay in Austria in 1834 – the first of altogether six visits – and finds its climax in 1846, when he is invited to give a reading of his fairy tales at the imperial castle in Vienna. It is noteworthy that this process to a large degree was the result of a planned strategy on Andersen’s behalf. Before arriving in Vienna, he procured letters of recommendation and upon arrival he systematically made friends with the city’s most important artistic and intellectual personalities. Another strategic move, of course, was to choose Vienna as a partial setting for his most successful novel in the German-speaking world.
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