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The motif Transformation in HCA : The Windmill (1865)
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The motif Transformation in HCA : The Windmill (1865)

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See also Intermediate state, To die and go to heaven

Description of this motif: Transformation is a core concept of Johan de Mylius' understanding of both the life and the ouevre of Hans Christian Andersen, cf. among others the book Forvandlingens pris ('The Price of Transformation', 2004). The concept does not only refer to a theme, but also to the aesthetics, in Mylius' book. The existential-religious categori transformation takes place in the moment of death, both crucial concepts in Mylius' view on the oeuvre. The concepts are elaborated in an earlier article: The Moment – a Structure of Mind and World in Hans Christian Andersen's Poetic Writings.

Example :

"The days pass, and the days come, always forward to brightness and happiness, until the day comes when it will be all over with me and yet not entirely over. I'll have to be torn down so that I can be built up again, new and better; I shall cease, but I'll still live! Become a different being, and yet be the same! Enlightened as I am with sun, moon, wax, oil, and tallow, I still find that difficult to understand. My old timbers and brickwork will rise again from the dust!

"I hope I'll be able to keep my old thoughts, the Miller, the mother, the great ones and little ones – the family, as I call all that great and little company of thoughts; because I cannot do without them.

"And I must also remain myself, with my throat in my chest, wings on my head, and the balcony around my waist; otherwise I wouldn't know myself, and other people wouldn't know me and say, "There's the Mill on the hill, a proud sight to see, and yet not proud at all!"

That's what the Mill said. It said a great many more things, too, but that's the most important part of it.

And the days came and the days passed, and yesterday was the last day. Then the Mill caught fire. The flames shot up: they whipped in; they whipped out; they licked beams and planks and ate them up. The Mill disappeared, and only a heap of ashes remained. The smoke rose from the embers until the wind carried it away.

Whatever had been alive in the Mill still remained; nothing happened to any of them; indeed, they gained by it.

The Miller's family – one soul, may thoughts, and yet only one thought – got a new, a beautiful mill, a mill they could be very proud of. It looked exactly like the old one, and people said, "Why, there's the Mill on the hill, a proud sight to see!"

But this Mill was better arranged, much more up to date than the other one, for there is always some progress. The old timber, which had become damp and worm-eaten, now was dust and ashes. The body of the Mill did not actually rise out of the dust, as it had believed it would do; it had taken the thought literally, and not everything is supposed to be taken literally.

Comment on this quote:

"The Wind Mill" may seem like nonsense at first glance, but it is about the resurrection of the flesh. "I'll have to be torn down so that I can be built up again, new and better; I shall cease, but I'll still live!" These are the words of the Bible. Hans Christian Andersen was not an orthodox, but lets the mill burn, whichis a typical death and transformation in the oeuvre. "The body of the Mill did not actually rise out of the dust, as it had believed it would do [but did rise in another way]; it had taken the thought literally [orthodox], and not everything is supposed to be taken literally."

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