List of abstracts for the IV International HCA conference - Hans Christian Andersen between children's literature and adult literature
'Out of a Swan's Egg' Metamorphosis in H. C. Andersen's Tales and 'The Fairy Tale of My Life'
'It does not matter in the least being born in a duckyard, if
only you come out of a swan's egg.' (H. C. Andersen, 'The Ugly Duckling')
'Now I am ready to tell you how bodies are changed/ Into
different bodies.' (Ovid, 'Metamorphoses', trans. Ted Hughes)
Metamorphosis is, in classical mythology, a change in the body. It is a change for the worse when it happens as a result of God's/the gods' revenge on someone as punishment for hybris, or for the better, following initiation through suffering and purification. In Andersen's fairy tales both patterns occur. They have an educative function within the world of children's values. In 'The Fairy Tale of My Life' these values are used as guidemarks along Andersen's path throughout his life as various experiences change him from 'the ugly duckling' into the swan. Travelling and performance changing location and disguise contribute to various temporary and permanent forms of metamorphosis in the writer's identity formation.
This paper will study the concept of metamorphosis in Andersen's writing in a double perspective. One dimension will be mythical, as proposed by Ovid and Marina Warner. The other will be contemporary, in an attempt to reposition Andersen's view of metamorphosis within the frame of nomadic understandings of the self as proposed by Deleuze and Guattari on the one hand and Rosi Braidotti on the other. I would like to suggest that in the contemporary world, increasingly informed by the experience of globalisation, where time and space are becoming more compact, Andersen's own metamorphosis through travelling (or 'flying') can be reread as a foreshadowing of the contemporary model of the citizen of the world.