An essay in B O D Y on the life of Hans Christian Andersen, a life as bizarre in many ways as anything the writer conjured up in his well-known stories. Here is Rudnicki on Andersen writing his autobiography, The Fairytales of my Life:
“Only the title is honest– everything else is made up. He furnished his empty family home, he hung pictures on the walls, put dressers in the rooms, beds, a hearth like in a fairytale and snow white curtains in the windows. Not a word about his mother, her begging, her alcoholism or her pitiful death. Not a word about his aunt in a Copenhagen brothel, not a word about his sister or her prostitution— he doesn’t even realize that she passes away while he’s glossing her over in silence. One can deduce more about his childhood from his fairytales, from the drunkard-laundress who can’t do a thing, and the girl who sells matches.”
The essay is high comedy and high tragedy and seems too unbelievable to be the biography of someone so famous in literary history.
You should also read Rudnicki’s short story in B O D Y, The Death Of A Czech Dog.
Both works have been translated from the Polish by Beatrice Smigasiewicz.