List of abstracts for the IV International HCA conference - Hans Christian Andersen between children's literature and adult literature
The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep in the light of psychoanalytic thinking
The story of the Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep has many references to Andersens biography. Why did he write the story and what did it mean to him? As I am going to draw upon his autobiographies, his letters and his diary, I am moving outside the sphere of literary hermeneutics. My interest as a psychoanalyst is to make an approach to the understanding of the psychology of the author.
I shall touch upon the recent redefining of his sexuality by some biographers. The idea is to settle with simplistic expositions of Andersen as either homosexual or heterosexual, and to give a sketch of him as a more complicated, ambiguous man. In Andersen's psychology there was a field of conflicts between both sexual and aggressive impulses and counterworking inhibiting and censuring functions. There is reason to emphasise that also specifically repressed narcissistic vulnerability and aggressive sedition were influential factors. These tensions produced an ever present amount of pathological anxiety accompanied by a number of symptoms. However, in the best of his works he was successfully sublimating his personal conflicts into universally valid art.