Hans Christian Andersen and the Commodification of Creativity
Edited by Helle Porsdam
Introduction: Hans Christian Andersen, Best of Story Tellers
Helle Porsdam On 1 April 2005 at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Professor Harold Bloom came close to adding one more name to his list of the greatest and most original authors of the Western literary tradition – that of the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805–75). The famous Yale professor and author of numerous books on literary criticism had been invited to Odense, Denmark to deliver the Hans Christian Andersen Academy Lecture 2005 and to receive the Hans Christian Andersen Award 2005. The award of 50 000 euros was given to Harold Bloom in Andersen’s native town of Odense with much pomp and circumstance on 2 April, the day that all of Denmark celebrated the 200th anniversary of the most famous Danish writer of all times. There is perhaps a certain irony in the fact that it was Harold Bloom who became the recipient of this award. Hans Christian Andersen is not among the handful of writers who make up the Bloomian literary canon. The writers that constitute The Western Canon: The Books and School of Ages, as Bloom called one of his most controversial books from 1994, are ‘strong poets’ – those who have been strong enough to transcend that ‘anxiety of influence’ which all writers feel toward their literary precursors. The strongest of them all is Shakespeare, who is Bloom’s hero. Shakespeare not only defined for the Western world the standards by which we judge all literature; he also defined for us what it means to...