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William Schneider


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ANDERSEN, H.C. Digte. Kjöbenhavn (i.e. Copenhagen), 1830. Uncut in the original printed wrappers. Wrappers a bit fryed at edges and spine expertly renewed with paper perfectly matching that of the wrappers. Corners of wrappers gently re-enforced. With a full-page inscription to inside of front wrapper. Some brownspotting due to the paper-quality. Housed in chemise in an elegant half morocco-box, in pastiche-style, with gilt spine spine. THE RARE FIRST EDITION - PRESENTATION-COPY, IN THE EXCEEDINGLY SCARCE ORIGINAL PRINTED WRAPPERS - OF ANDERSEN'S THIRD BOOK, CONTAINING HIS FIRST FAIRY TALE.

The magnificent presentation-inscription - hitherto unknown and unregistered - is arguably one of the most important Andersen-presentations. It is inscribed to Henriette Collin, née Thyberg (1813-1894), the then fiancée, later wife, of his closest and most important friend, who was more like a brother to him, Edvard Collin.

The touching and heartfelt presentation-inscription, on the verso of the front wrapper, is in the form of a poem and expresses Andersen's views about himself, about life, love, and perishing, and predicting the fact that he would never find love:
"Min kjære Eduards/ elskværdige Jette/ fra/ Forfatteren/ -/ En Digter ligner Fuglen der flagrer/ over Vang,/ Han bringer hvad han eier, - sit Hjertes/ bedste Sang./ O tænk med Eduard paa mig, naar Jorden/ mig har gjemt,/ Maaskee, i Eders Hjerter jeg ikke bliver/ glemt./ Drøm glad i Kjærligheden, paa Livets/ raske Elv,/ Den sang jeg tidt som Digter, men/ fandt den aldrig selv." (My dear Eduard's/ loveable Jette/ from/ the author/ -/ A Poet is like the bird fluttering/ over the meadow,/ He brings what he owns, - his heart's/ best song./ Oh, think with Eduard about me, when the earth/ has hidden me,/ Perhaps, in your hearts I will not be/ forgotten./ Dream happily in love on live's/ swift stream,/ As a poet I sang that often/ but never found it myself.").

Edvard Collin was the son of Andersen's greatest benefactor Jonas Collin, who took him under his wings and helped him financially. Jonas Collin had five children, and it was Edvard, who came to be closest to Andersen. Edvard Collin is remembered today almost solely as the closest friend of Andersen, his lifelong support in all aspects of life and his councellor in all practical matters. His wife, Henriette Collin, came to play a significant role in Andersen's life and became one of the people very closest to him. She is described as a clever and loving woman, and she became Andersen's lifelong confidante, always consoling him when things looked bad and always helping him in matters of the heart. More than Edvard Collin, who had a cooler nature, she was very close to Andersen's heart throughout his life. Both Edvard and Henriette ("Jette", as Andersen called her) are buried in the same grave as Andersen.

Edvard and Henriette (Thyberg) were engaged in 1832, and the presentation-inscription is presumably from around that time. Thus, it is one of the very early Andersen-presentations known. The earliest dated inscription from Hans Christian Andersen that is known is in another copy of "Digte" (now in a private collection), dated January 1st 1830.

This first published collection of Andersen's poetry constitutes Andersen's third published book (at the age of 24) and contains, at the end, the first printing of any of his fairy tales, being also his very first fairy tale, "Dødningen, et fyensk Folke-eventyr" (i.e. "The Ghost" (also sometime "The Spectre"), "A Folk- Fairy Tale from Funen"). This is the first time that Andersen uses the term "Eventyr" (fairy tale), the term which came to denote the genre for which he received world-wide fame as one of the most important writers of all time.

"The Ghost" was later rewritten and published for the second time in Andersen's first fairy tale collection, "Eventyr fortalte for Børn" (PMM 299), 1835, under the title "The Travelling Companion". As Andersen would later explain, his first fairy tale was based upon a folk tale from Funen he had heard as a child. This seminal publication lays the foundation for Andersen's activity as an author of fairy tales.

This collection furthermore contains 46 poems, 20 of which are published here for the first time (the rest were published separately in various periodicals).

BFN 51.

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