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The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

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Danish poet and novelist Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is best known for the dozens of fairy tales he wrote, including The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Snow Queen. Andersen's sense of fantasy, power of description, and acute sensitivity are strikingly evident in his autobiography. Andersen masterfully depicts the extreme poverty of his provincial childhood and the international celebrity of his later years, and also provides insights into the sources of many of his most famous tales.

610 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1855

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About the author

Hans Christian Andersen

6,536 books3,159 followers
Hans Christian Andersen (often referred to in Scandinavia as H.C. Andersen) was a Danish author and poet. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen's popularity is not limited to children; his stories — called eventyr, or "fairy-tales" — express themes that transcend age and nationality.

Andersen's fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West's collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. Some of his most famous fairy tales include "The Little Mermaid", "The Ugly Duckling", "The Nightingale", "The Emperor's New Clothes" and many more. His stories have inspired plays, ballets, and both live-action and animated films.

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5 stars
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29 (25%)
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39 (34%)
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17 (15%)
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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Mariangel.
535 reviews
June 22, 2019
Lovely memoir. Andersen met many famous people of his day. His descriptions of other countries make me want to read his travel books. My favorite part is the style, his wonder at life and childlike love and gratefulness towards all his friends and benefactors and towards God.
Profile Image for Minh.
314 reviews49 followers
May 18, 2022
Qua cuốn này thì biết được nhiều hơn về cuộc đời của Andersen cũng như các gương mặt tri thức đương thời của TK 19. Nhưng nó bị trùng lặp quá, tới 2 3 phần nói về các cuộc du ngoạn; cũng như văn phong bay bổng của ông khó lòng giữ lại người đọc tới hết cuốn sách, còn chưa nói các văn sĩ Bắc Âu đa phần còn quá xa lạ với độc giả VN nên hứng thú để đọc nó cũng không được giữ trọn vẹn.
Profile Image for Janice.
224 reviews5 followers
September 5, 2009
As I taught a unit to third graders on folklore I decided to read Hans Christian Andersen's autobiography. I had read a children's version of his life in a reader at one time and wondered how much of it was true that he was a bit of an ugly duckling himself.

While he didn't often fit in in his younger life he did travel extensively throughout Europe during his adulthood and much of his book explains that. He did have many friends but there did seem to be a sense of loneliness about him. It was fascinating to learn more about Europe at the time as he give insights into the cities he visits and the well-to-do people whose circles he traveled in. Interesting title - fairy tale of my life.
January 3, 2021
He writes better stories than he did his autobiography. It was interesting to read his conversations with people like Charles Dickens, Jenny Lind, his time with Mendelssohn and Strauss, but most of the book was traveling to a spot, being invited into a house of a locally known person and lots of lamenting about his reviews.
I guess I was looking for more background on how he created the stories he's famous for, but he spent more time being sad over its reception and reviews of critics than how he got the ideas.
I will admit that I skipped a lot of the travel from city to city. It's a 589 ph book and that became tedious very quickly.
Profile Image for Con Bé Ki.
258 reviews75 followers
June 18, 2022
Sau tất cả những lời tự sự dài như áng văn xuôi mượt mà đó, đối với tôi việc đi đến được dấu chấm câu cuối cùng thật chẳng khác gì một bài thơ. :3
Profile Image for Woody.
Author 1 book3 followers
November 5, 2014
An interesting tale about this iconic man who was the ultimate self-starter, rising up from a very humble origin to becoming one of Denmark's most famous authors. He was in many ways "The Ugly Duckling" in his fairy tales. In his early teens he headed to Copenhagen to try to become an actor. Anderson weathered years of criticism and difficulty achieving his dreams. He persisted though to the point where he became widely recognized and appreciated.

The book starts in an interesting way, telling Anderson's amazing rags-to-riches story. It bogs down when he describes at length his many trips to visit nobility in surrounding European Countries. We learn that Anderson does not like excessive heat and that he is very sensitive to criticism.

At the end, Anderson summarizes how his life has indeed been a fairy tale, and how we can all learn from the challenges we face. In his words "All the injustice I thought I suffered and every hand that clumsily interfered in my development brought good results after all."
Profile Image for Steve Shilstone.
Author 14 books24 followers
February 4, 2013
Delightful visit with the highly sensitive passionate egotistical tale teller.
Profile Image for Jose  Sierras.
59 reviews5 followers
December 28, 2021
"Si de niño, cuando salí a recorrer el mundo, solo y pobre, me hubiese salido un hada prodigiosa que me hubiera dicho: escoge tu camino y tu meta, que yo te protegere y te guiare... no pudiera mi suerte haber sido más feliz."
Author 31 books36 followers
August 20, 2022
Quả là nếu không có những cách tân sau này trong lối viết ở thể loại Hồi kí thì dến cả Andersen cũng lê thê, nhạt nhẽo!
Profile Image for Kari.
422 reviews
January 3, 2018
I'm on page 295, just so I remember when I get it back. This is an absolutely great tie-together between all the other books of this period I've read. And while Andersen wasn't perfect, and I hear he did things that offended polite society of that time, he and his life sound like me and mine in so many ways (and the results he got out of any given incident are very familiar). And I don't think that's a bad thing, mostly. Anyone who got to be Mendelssohn's friend is worth getting to know :)
9 reviews1 follower
June 3, 2023
Creo que si Hans viviera en la actualidad sería un auténtico pringao. No parece que tuviera mucho talento natural para la narrativa ni para ninguna otra cosa pero, pese a todo, su extraño amor propio le hizo interpretar las críticas como si fueran alabanzas y así, a lo tonto, ha llegado hasta nuestros días.
25 reviews
February 7, 2017
No me ha entusiasmado, mucha información sobre personajes daneses de principios del siglo XIX que no aportan nada a un lector español del s. XXI.
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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