i'm enjoying reading hans christian andersen again because i enjoy his 'story-telling' capacities. He really draws you in, with a conversational sort of style. My father was known among his small circle as a great story-teller. Not flamboyant or dramatic - far from it - in a very quiet, confidential way he would 'spin his yarns.' Being a sea-going man, the spinning of yarns was probably expected. But there was something about his story-telling style that was similar to Andersen's. I noticed, when I visited Denmark, that many other people also spoke in a measured, thoughtfully developed story-telling style of speech. Maybe it's only because they were translating in their heads. Of course, this was a long time ago. It may all be different now.
Anyway, Andersen fills us in on details of time and place that make his little morality tales all the more enjoyable and informative about a particular time and place, Denmark in the mid-nineteenth century. I'm enjoying the process of translating the Ugly Duckling and comparing my rough, literal translations to the English translations that are around. Some are so 'English' that they lose the Danish humor, and become 'thoroughly' English. On the other hand, some Danish expressions wouldn't make much sense in English, although i can see how they got there, so i'll make a note when i come to them.
And now, the Ugly Duckling...
Den Grimme Aelling, part one Notes: It’s interesting to learn that Danish farms were often surrounded by canals. I remember, when visiting Copenhagen North Africa
Der var så dejligt ude på landet; det var sommer! Kornet stod gult, havren grøn, høet var rejst i stake nede i de grønne enge, og der gik storken på sine lange, rode ben or snakkede ægyptisk, for det sprog havde han lært af sin moder. Rundt om ager og eng var der store skove, og midt i skovene dybe søer; jo der var rigtignok dejligt derude på landet! Midt i solskinnet lå der en gammel herregård med dybe kanaler rundt om, og fra muren og ned tel vadet voksede store skræppeblade, der var så høje, at små born kunne stå oprejst under de størsteå der var lige så vildsomt derind som i den tykkeste skov, og her lå en and på sin redeå hun skulle ruge sine små ællinger ud, men nu var hun næsten ked af det, fordi det varede så længe, og hun sjælden fik visitå de andre ænder holdt mere af at svømme om I kanalerne end at lobe op og sidde under et skræppelblad for at snadre med hende.
It was so lovely outside on the land (engl: in the country); it was summer! The corn stood yellow, oats green, the hay was shaken into stacks down in the green meadow, and the stork walked on his long red legs and spoke Egyptian, for he had learnt that language from his mother. Round about the field and meadow were large forests, and deep in the middle of the forests lay lakes. Yes, it was right enough lovely out there on the land. In the midst of the sunshine there lay an old farmyard with deep canals round about, and from the wall down to the water grew large dock leaves. They were so high that small children could stand upright under the biggest of them. It was as pathless in there as in the thickest forest, and here lay a hen on her nest. She shouldered (hatched) her brood of small ducklings out, but now she was nearly ‘kjed’ that, 'but for the fact that' 'it was taking so long,' and she seldom had a visit – the other hens liked more to swim around in the canals than to run up and sit under a dock leaf quacking with her.
Den Grimme Aelling, part one
Notes: It’s interesting to learn that Danish farms were often surrounded by canals. I remember, when visiting Copenhagen North Africa