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Greenacre, P. (1983). Hans Christian Andersen and Children. Psychoanal. St. Child, 38:617-635.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 38:617-635

Hans Christian Andersen and Children

Phyllis Greenacre, M.D.

AS HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN IS KNOWN AS ONE OF THE world's most famous writers of fairy tales for children, he is naturally thought of as a great lover of children. This, however, is not quite true. His relation to children was complex, full of contradictory feelings with ambivalence that bread ambiguity. This could be said of many other aspects of his life and is only noteworthy here because it is by the fairy tales that he won, almost against his will, great and lasting fame. Only those who have studied his life know of his six novels, which in their day won some acclaim. In addition, he wrote a number of very popular travel books, several plays, as well as books of poetry and several autobiographies.

His first ambition was to be a singer. He had an excellent voice as a boy soprano, but had to give up this ambition when his voice broke in late adolescence. Subsequently he aimed to be a ballet dancer, and after 2 years of lessons, had to renounce this too, as he was so awkward and ungainly that he was once referred to as looking like an orangutan. He sketched tolerably well and had developed an extraordinary ability to make elaborate paper cutouts that often embodied figures that had some significance in his inner life and early memories. But there were few children and no babies in them. The early cutouts resembled doodling as he often did them while he was listening to someone else.


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