Visiting Charles Dickens
On one further occasion a private letter, this time about a visit to England (where he stayed with Charles Dickens) was used by the press. He had been rash enough to write it to an alert editor, who amusingly wrote back: ‘You will have to put up with my using your letter for my paper; an editor goes about like a roaring lion, quaerens quem deboret (asking whom he can devour) , and you have put yourself in front of the open jaws.’
It was a lively piece of reporting, covering among other things the first Handel festival in the Crystal Palace and life with Dickens at Gad’s Hill.
Hans Christian Andersen was a great journalist, who would never be a journalist.
But he would write, and indeed behave, like a journalist of the rarest sort.
One of Denmark’s few really outstanding literary critics in the first half of the century put most clearly what has been said about the fairy-tale writer as a journalist. He was writing about the travel letters from Spain, and we will conclude this article by quoting him. He wrote:
“His style comes like sunshine, or like the crack of a whip!”
Andersen’s very private diaries, written only for himself, are at present being published in Denmark. They make wonderful reading. But a professional journalist would hardly have squandered such rich reporting on himself alone.
The author: Jens Kruuse, born 1908, dr phil 1934. Assistant professor, Danish language, Paris 1934-38; assistant professor, comparative literary research, University of Arhus, 193942; assistant professor, dramaturgy, 1970-74. Journalist and literary critic of the Jutland daily Jyllands-Posten since 1942. Author of several books and essays on literary history.