Fra strøtanke til værk: En genetisk undersøgelse af de kreative processer i den sene del af H.C. Andersens forfatterskab

    Publikation: AfhandlingPh.d.-afhandling

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    The dissertation Fra strøtanke til værk – en genetisk undersøgelse af de kreative processer i den sene del af H.C. Andersens forfatterskab (From stray thought to work – A genetic study of the creative processes in the latter part of Hans Christian Andersen’s authorship) seeks to clarify the patterns and shaping that exist in Hans Christian Andersen’s creative processes as they find expression in the preserved drafts of the three tales ‘The New Century’s Goddess’ (1861), ‘The Ice Maiden’ (1861) and ‘Auntie Toothache’ (1872). The presentation attempts to clarify the creative process that takes place from the time the initial idea or memoranda are recorded to when the author has completed the shaping of the individual work. The point of departure is that the drafts constitute empirical material where editings and development from one textual stage to another provide us with tangible evidence as to the choices that have been made in the shaping process.
    The prerequisite for this investigation is the procurement and organisation of the necessary empirical material. The dissertation is conditioned by the PhD project’s preceding examination of Hans Christian Andersen collections at the Danish Royal Library, including in particular the Collin Collection 41.4o, which, according to the catalogue description, comprises ‘Various booklets and loose papers, containing scattered notes, sketches, excerpts and the like, collected partly by A. himself under the title “Thoughts and memoranda to be made use of when attuning”.’ The exploration’s subsequent identification, selection and transcription of the drafts for analysis constitutes the basic research dimension of the dissertation.
    The methodological approach to the organisation and analyses of the drafts is inspired by the French Critique Génétique, which, along lines similar to the dissertation, focuses on the text-production process and thereby those parts of the creative process about which one can say something certain. The main hypothesis of the dissertation is that genetic analyses of drafts can contribute considerably to new interpretations of well-known works. We are dealing with a critical and pragmatic use of genetic methodology, one that has contributed to the systematisation of what in genetic terminology are referred to as the dossiers: the collecting of all accessible handwritten manuscripts that have been used in the targeted efforts to produce a literary work.
    To shed further light on what characterises the creative processes in the latter part of Hans Christian Andersen’s literary work, I include what I have chosen to define as a pretext: apart from the elements from the dossiers, the pretext consists of textual elements that have not been made use of in the goal-oriented process, yet even so relate directly to and create the prerequisite for the published works. For the same reason, theoretical and psychological approaches to creativity are included, and a discussion takes place regarding the extent to which these can contribute to a clarification of Hans Christian Andersen’s creativity.

    Chapter 1 introduces the PhD project’s point of departure: the interest in Hans Christian Andersen’s handwritten manuscripts and in the author’s efforts to shape his work. In the chapter, I give an account of the research traditions that are linked to the study of Andersen’s draft work as well as of the artistic processes that underlie the works of his authorship. I show that research until the present is of surprisingly limited scope within these areas, and that the existing research is of a different nature to that of this dissertation. Next, I give an account of how the dissertation has marked out the empirical data – it is the result of going through the material of the Hans Christian Andersen Collections at The Royal Library and a subsequent evaluation of which works have preserved drafts of sufficience for it to be possible to carry out analyses of the shaping process. I then give an account of the methodology that has been used in the basic research section of the project and remark that this section resulted in the inclusion of genetic criticism as a methodological approach to the organisation and analyses of the three collections of drafts. The chapter concludes with the problem formulation, which emphasises the three ways in which the dissertation is to contribute to existing Andersen research: by establishing, transcribing and publishing three collections of pretext, by introducing genetic analysis as a methodological approach to interpretation and especially the clarification of creative processes, and by describing the forms of creativity that manifest themselves through the analyses, with the inclusion of creativity-theoretical perspectives.
    Chapter 2 introduces the methodological approach to the study of Andersen drafts. It begins with an overview of the historical background for the establishing of author archives and of the discussion of the relevance of studies dealing with the writer’s non-published manuscripts. It then outlines the assumptions and limits of the French school of literary criticism known as Critique Génétique in relation to the philological approaches, as they appear in articles of the three ‘pioneers’ Louis Hay, Jean Bellemin-Noël and Pierre Marc de Biasi as well as in Johnny Kondrup’s critique of the genetic school. The genetic procedures and principles are gone through and discussed, using Biasi’s description of the genetic method as a starting point, and in order to determine which elements can be applied in the analyses of the dissertation, and which cannot. In the methodological discussion I deal with the critique to which the genetic school has been subjected. I argue that my own pragmatic reception of parts of the genetic methodologies is determined by the shared focus on the process and the interpretative approach to the analysis of the manuscripts. I also underline that my investigation differs from genetic criticism as regards the attitude to the writer’s intention and biography: my attitude is that the various stages of the text not only co-exist but that there is a reason for the writer allowing a certain stage to be published rather than another stage. Although my examination is not biographically oriented in its point of departure, I also include biographical material in the pretext to the extent I am able to argue that such material sheds light on the creative processes. Finally, I explain how I intend to use the key concepts dossier and pretext, as described above, as well as the concepts work (the published text, the ‘work of art’) final text (representing the point at which the author has ceased to further modify the text), basic text (the best available variant of the published text) and ideal text (non-published, non-tangible text: the text rid of all errors).
    Chapters 3, 4 and 5 are the analytical section of the dissertation and contain interpretations of ‘The New Century’s Goddess’, ‘The Ice Maiden’ and ‘Auntie Toothache’ as well as a description and analysis of their dossiers and pretexts.
    Chapter 3 begins with an interpretation of the poetological piece of prose with an essay-like nature: ‘The New Century’s Goddess’ (1861). The work contains no real action, but focuses explicitly on poetics. After a description of the genesis and evolution of the piece of prose, the dossier of the work is presented and analysed. The dossier consists of a great number of jottings in notebooks as well as three rough drafts and a fair copy – plus an as yet unpublished rough draft ‘Immortality’. The overall development of the stages of the text is described and certain textual elements are studied in detail. The collected pretext is established and the creative process is isolated in the concluding section, in which I affirm that the idea for a poetological piece of writing arose 20 years or so before the goal-directed process was initiated. The pretext and process are atypical in the sense that the thorough revisions do not represent an unfolding of action or character but rather a scanning of the poetological memoranda in the notebooks. The pretext also displays a wide-ranging network of anecdotes, images, sayings and personal experiences that recur throughout the writer’s authorship. It has been exceptionally thoroughly revised and, in connection with the nature of the editing, one gets the impression that the shaping process – despite Andersen’s professed satisfaction with the work – has caused him quite some difficulty.
    Chapter 4 analyses ‘The Ice Maiden’ (1861), the longest ‘story’ by far that Andersen wrote. The introduction analyses the particular blend in the story of features from the fairytale, novel, travel account and fantastic novella, drawing attention to the ambivalence and mirroring that arises between the overall narrative and the embedded story of ‘The Eagle’s Nest’. Its Swiss origins are outlined, after which an account is given of the extremely comprehensive and collage-type dossier that comprises elements from both The Royal Library and Odense City Museums. The description of the total pretext shows that the narrative starts up in the form of early drafts from Switzerland in 1860, that it gradually includes a number of inter- and intratextual references, and that the fair copy in particular works on installing a (fantastic) hesitation, linguistic figures and a rounded conclusion. With the analysis of the collage-like nature of the pretext, it is argued that the work reflects the developmental process, and that Andersen has consciously used a recycling strategy in his approach to the material.
    Chapter 5 deals with ‘Auntie Toothache’ (1872), staged by Andersen as a conclusion to his writing of fairytales, and one of the very few actual frame stories. Here too, the construction of the work reflects its coming into existence, also that the thematic of immortality is centre stage. The rough draft ‘Immortality’, which shares motifs with the final text, is also included in both dossier and pretext, which in addition also consists of highly varied and fragmentary drafts. These occur in particular in the framework story of the final text – the manuscript the student has left behind. It is noted that the creative process stretches over a period of almost 40 years and is also characterised by a number of long breaks between the more goal-oriented writing phases. Typical of the movement in the text is that a development takes place as well as a mutual interaction of aphorisms and sayings, via characters, scenarios and monologue to the unifying point where the fragments are put together in a collage form, with the surrounding frame story. The creative process is further characterised by its inclusion of a number of early, personal and painful experiences, and by the fact that Andersen, quite exceptionally, has edited the text after the publishing of the first edition.
    Chapter 6 begins by summarising the findings of the previous three analyses. One gains a picture of a writer in a constant dialogue with his material. The pretexts demonstrate how the final texts have assumed their form via a vast number of ‘run-ups’, reworkings, restructurings, recyclings, expansions and proofreadings. I argue that this kind of shaping characterises the authorship from beginning to end and can be seen as expressing a conscious strategy. At the same time, individual characteristics in the three pretexts express the genres into which they seek to inscribe themselves – or out of which to ‘exscribe’ themselves. In acknowledgment of the fact that the genetic analyses can only provide a partial picture of the creative processes, other approaches are included in the chapter. A glimpse is first provided of Hans Christian Andersen’s own, naturally more or less staged reflections on his own creativity. Included is a previously unpublished rough draft with the title ‘The Poetry of Chance’. To illustrate what creative patterns can lie behind the visual, textual progression, I then outline the classical creativity models, recent product-oriented theory of creativity by Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi and Teresa M. Amabile in particular, and a critique of this by Søren Harnow Klausen. The limited statement value of the product-oriented creativity theories in relation to the aims of the dissertation then motivate addressing older, individual-psychological theories of creativity, which have precisely aesthetic expression as their focal point. Here I touch on the theories of Sigmund Freud, Anton Ehrenzweig and Carl Gustav Jung, and point out that the individuation theory of the last-mentioned – with certain reservations – can be used to illustrate how the process of literary creation is closely related to the need of the creative individual via art to reach a new interpretation of the self in relation to the world – and thereby to a union of the contrasting aspects of his or her own being.
    Chapter 7 is the concluding chapter of the dissertation and begins with a summary and a putting into perspective. Here the partial conclusion of Chapter 6, Andersen’s own reflections about his creativity and the creativity-theoretical approaches are allowed to interact, the aim being to form a more cohesive picture of how Andersen’s creative processes shaped themselves in the final part of his authorship. The time-span for the three pretexts is illustrated by a model; likewise various ways of regarding Andersen’s creative processes are illustrated by two further models. Subsequently, the genetically inspired method of the dissertation is discussed and evaluated, and in conclusion an account is given for the potential mediating perspectives of the dissertation and the empirical material. It is argued that there ought to be broader access to Andersen’s handwritten manuscripts.
    The dissertation as a whole contributes new knowledge about how the use of the writer’s drafts can shed new light on works already known in advance and lead to remarkable ‘finds’ in collections of previously unpublished material. It does away with the widespread romantic idea of Hans Christian Andersen as an improviser, replacing it with the picture of a writer who works consciously and constantly on collecting and shaping his material. And finally, the dissertation can be seen from a methodological point of view as an empirically based proposal to operationalize genetic studies in Andersen research.
    • Handesten, Lars, Hovedvejleder
    StatusUdgivet - 15. sep. 2014


    • Genetisk kritik
    • H.C. Andersen
    • Håndskrifter
    • Kreativitet
    • Tante Tandpine
    • Det nye Aarhundredes Musa
    • Iisjomfruen
    • Litteraturanalyse