Hans Christian Andersen and Community

Hans Christian Andersen and Community

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The theme of community has perhaps never been of a more vital significance than in our present day and age. The process we refer to as modernity has been synonymous with the gradual fragmentation and disintegration of traditional communities on various levels of our societies. Today, we might be facing the culmination of this process. The spectres of nationalism are undermining various national and international communities. Inequality is on the rise. If people unite it is too often in the mistrust and sometimes hatred of other people. Hans Christian Andersen lived at a time when this process was at its early stages, and he was acutely aware of its potential perils.

Alongside the transformations of traditional communities, other communities seem to appear. A recurring element in these culturally specific communities is literature, and Hans Christian Andersen is a key figure here, as his literary and cultural legacy has a magnetic effect on people around the globe. A vivid example of this effect was the conference Hans Christian Andersen and Community. The conference was held at the University of Southern Denmark in 2017 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Hans Christian Andersen’s status as honourary citizen in Odense.

This book presents a selection of 19 contributions to the conference. In various ways, each chapter activates the concept of community in relation to Andersen as an author and as a citizen of the world he lived in – as well as the cultural icon which he has become.

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