A great journalist who wanted to be a journalist 5. By Jens Kruuse

Theatre report from Paris

His first appearance as a reporter with some sort of an assignment was in the respected paper Kiøbenhavns-Posten. That was on June 22, 1833, and the occasion was a letter from Paris; again unsigned, and seemingly private.
But one can see it had been written for an audience (for which indeed there is separate evidence), as it is full of snippets of news of the kind later to become general in papers allover the world. The striking point about this first semi-professional bit of journalism, as I see it, is that he appreciates -as a good reporter must -that his readers want information, many short, well-turned items -facts.
He is still the inspired writer with the sure eye. He thinks of the locals at home: ‘Herold’s latest opera is a sea of tones with storm and calm; it is admirably suited to our stage. ..’ Or he describes the piquant in fine form: ‘ As proof of the loose tone which prevails in most new vaudevilles, and of which we have no conception, one of the newest, Sous Clef, which is played by a single lady, can be cited. She is shut up; her lover cannot get in. She eats and drinks, sings amusing couplets, and finally undresses to the last article. At that moment a small window above the fireplace opens; the lover has found his way through this and leaps out. The girl utters a scream and dashes into bed; the lover approaches quite silently- and the curtain falls. It’s a great success!
What theatre reporting: exhilarated, titillating and with the observed detail ‘the lover approaches quite silently’!
Andersen’s two greatest achievements as a travelling journalist are collected in book form; but they are articles. The first and most colourful is A Poet’s Bazaar, which describes a tour of the Near East, unique in view of the contemporary conditions and the writer’s little personal courage.
Here is a scene from Constantinople: ‘The harem lay darkred, the barred windows gleaming of silver and gold.’
In this series of articles the accounts of the journey along the Danube and through rebellious Bulgaria and of a period of quarantine on the Austro-Hungarian frontier (ten days of unpleasantness) are climaxes of a journalistic feat unexcelled even by Jules Verne’s travelling reporter on the Trans-Siberian Railway.
The other travel book consists of articles about Denmark’s unknown neighbour, Sweden. It is perhaps his most successful, but, in away , it is perhaps literary theft to class it as journalism.
In time his relations with the press became peculiar. He was extremely touchy, and could display hatred of the newspapers for their criticism, particularly of many unsuccessful dramatic efforts.

” I saw a woman carried off by the current “

From Hans Christian Andersen – Danish Journal 1976

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