Monday, May 3, 2010

The Flying Trunk

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to learn about Hans Christian Andersen on a recent trip to Copenhagen. To prepare for the trip Sophia and I read some of the fairy tales and I found them far more interesting than I remembered.

How is this for the ultimate tourist destination: The Pea Museum! Reread the "The Princess and the Pea". It ends with these sentences,
"The pea was put in a museum; you can go and see it for yourself if no one has taken it. There's a fine story for you!"

Rereading "The Emperor's New Clothes" made me very uncomfortable. How often have I been one of the courtiers, guilty of praising something that everyone else praises. The child's bold statement of the truth, "[h]e's got nothing on!" doesn't change a thing. The emperor, fearing the child may be right, carries on because to do otherwise would "spoil the procession."

Hans Christian Andersen is now a national icon in Denmark, but he was born in poverty in Odense in 1805. His father was a shoemaker and his mother washed clothes in the chilly river that ran through the town. Andersen had a mixture of pure gumption and self-doubt. It is said that he turned down a technical education provided by the Crown Prince because he believed he could make it on the stage in Copenhagen. He moved to Copenhagen at 14 and managed to succeed as a singer until his voice changed. With this post-pubescent set back, Andersen began a career as a writer of fiction, travelogues, and fairy tales.

The museum devoted to Andersen's life in Odense is wonderful. I could have spent a lot of time there. It is filled with artifacts including paper cuttings and collage done by Andersen. I was told the Queen of Denmark is quite accomplished at the art of collage as well. I enjoyed hearing about Andersen overstaying his welcome at the Dickens' house. He was apparently oblivious to all hints to leave.

By the way, we saw the Queen, accompanied by the President of Russia, in the Tivoli Gardens. It is nice to think that she relaxes with scissors and paper after a busy day as Head of State.

Pictures from the top:

The edition of the book of fairy tales that we have enjoyed.

HCA from Wikipedia

His trunk in the airport in Copenhagen with Sophia and Bob.

HCA in his trunk outside the ride devoted to his stories at Tivoli Gardens.

Statue in Odense

Outside the museum

Sophia and Chris outside the two room childhood home.


  1. Is it just me or does he look like the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?? ;D (HCA not Chris or daddy Chris!)

    I loved the Danny Kaye movie - I think I need to add Copenhagen to my list of places to visit.

    More Megan gold!

  2. I saw a Chitty Bang Bang like car in Copenhagen! It was at the train station. Coincidence......?