21 February 2005

The quirks of genius

Maud calls our attention to the fact that today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen--and links to a funny article:

A hypochondriac and super-sensitive, he was so terrified of being buried alive that on his travels through Europe, he slept with a note -- "I only seem dead" -- by his side. He was snobbish, insecure and self-obsessed, never able to judge his impression on others.

When his fame was at its height, he turned up, unannounced, at the home of the Brothers Grimm -- and was met by Jakob with blank incomprehension. Invited for a holiday with Charles Dickens, previously one of his admirers, he so outstayed his welcome that Dickens put up a note which remarked unkindly that "Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks -- which seemed to the family AGES!" Dickens never communicated with him again.

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