Happy Birthday, H.C.

[H.C. Andersen]

Happy birthday, Hans Christian! Today is the 200 anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish poet and author famous for his fairy tales.

For more information about H.C. Andersen and the events that celebrate his bicentennial, read the H.C. Andersen 2005 web site (also available in Danish).

I was just reading the very brief story called Om Årtusinder (in English: Thousands of Years from Now) which paints a fine little sketch of Europe and a sarcastic images of the Amercan culture that didn't take 1,000 years to realize.

"To Europe!" cry the young sons of America. "To the land of our ancestors, that glorious land of memory and legends! To Europe!"

The ship of the air comes. It is crowded with passengers, for this is a much faster crossing than by sea. ...

"There is really a great deal to be seen in Europe," says the young American proudly. "And we've seen it in eight days; and it is quite possible, as the great traveler" (and here he names one of his contemporaries) "tells us in his famous book, How to See All Europe in Eight Days."

He is still very funny and very moving. Note also that this story, wrritten in 1853, has airships, the Channel Tunnel, and impatient Americans. H.C. Andersen as a science-fiction writer?