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28 · 04 · 2020

Hans Christian Andersen in Russia

New book from the Hans Christian Andersen Center, edited by Mads Sohl Jessen, Marina Balina, Ben Hellman, and Johs. Nørregaard Frandsen, was published last year by the University Press of Southern Denmark.


Hans Christian Andersen’s longstanding canonical status among his Russian readers is owed specifically to his fairy tales. For the nearly two centuries of their presence in Russian culture, these stories have become an organic part of the cultural memory of generations of readers, his texts constituting a particular cultural code that is employed in various artistic fields.


The scholars involved in the “Andersen in Russia” project, whose works are published in the book, aimed to analyze the cultural code of Russian Anderseniana. They have explored specifically the legacy of Andersen’s fairy tales, which has influenced the most diverse spheres of Russian culture: literature, literary criticism, music, film, theater, various media forms, and the art of illustration.


The collection is divided into three parts, the first of which, “Andersen and Russia in His Time,” focuses on how Russia was conceptualized by Andersen and by Danish culture at large. In the second and third parts of the volume, the reader is guided through an overarching chronological framework from the earliest Russian references to Andersen in the 1840s to his pervasive presence in the Russian digital sphere of our time.

Photo: Thora Hallager. Source: Odense Bys Museer

Hans Christian Andersen in Contemporary Russian Popular Culture, a collaborative article by Elena Krasnova, Elena Gourova, and Boris Zharov, professors of the St. Petersburg State University, was published in the volume Hans Christian Andersen in Russia late last year. The scholars analyze how Andersen’s fairy tales and the image of their author permeate, to an almost bewildering degree, the commercial, digital, and primary-educational culture of present-day Russia. They attend to the many nuances and developments of Andersen’s breakthrough as a major avatar of the post-Soviet era.