Harlan Ellison, I Have No Mouth And I Must Chow(via poupon)
The Little Mermaid was written as a love letter by Hans Christian Anderson to Edvard Collin. Anderson, upon hearing of Collin’s engagement to a young woman, proclaimed his love to him. He told him ”I long for you as though you were a beautiful Calabrian girl.” Edvard Collin turned Anderson down, disgusted. Anderson then wrote The Little Mermaid to symbolize his inability to have Collin just as a mermaid cannot be with a human. He sent it to Collin in 1936 and it goes down in history as one of the most profound love letters ever written.
Most scholars and psychoanalysts concluded that Anderson was bisexual; however, he never acted upon his homosexual drives.
The Little Mermaid, as it was originally written, did not have a happy ending.
I don’t think that’s true but sure.
Ok, I keep seeing this crop up on my dash with notes about how it’s an example of great tragic gay love. Let’s actually address this, since it doesn’t cite any sources and the dates are clearly incorrect!
Hans Christian Andersen was born in 1805 and started to see some success from his writing in the 1830s. The first volume of his fairytales were published in 1835. Andersen gives the impression of having been bisexual - or at least biamorous, as it seems likely he did not have sexual intercourse. This doesn’t mean he was asexual, as he had a healthy appetite for masturbation, making regular notes of it in his diary. He seems to have had regular crushes on women as well as men, and enjoyed watching female prostitutes although he did not have sex with them.
Andersen’s passionate language to his friend Edvard Collin must be understood in the social context of the early-mid nineteenth century, which allowed for sentimental and affectionate expressions of feeling between men. To the modern reader, Andersen’s letter reads unequivocally as a love letter; it is difficult to know how Collin read it. He did remark later that “I found myself unable to respond to this love, and this caused the author much suffering.” Perhaps he understood that he was rejecting a passionate offer of romantic love, or perhaps he felt unable to reciprocate with the intense kind of friendship Andersen wanted them to share. The passionate, sensuous friendships that were allowed to men (of a certain class) in the early nineteenth century of course resulted in a grey area between homosocial and homosexual desire.
The narrative above assumes that, like the Little Mermaid, Andersen died of a broken heart. In fact, a few years later Andersen became close friends with the Grand-Duke of Weimar. They spent the summer of 1844 together. Andersen’s career then took him to many places in Europe, but he spent the summers of 1854-7 with the Duke, and they continued to correspond regularly and affectionately until Andersen’s death.
Yes, yes, my noble friend, I love you as a man can only love the noblest and best. This time I felt that you were still more ardent, more affectionate to me. Every little trait is preserved in my heart. On that cool evening, when you took your cloak and threw it around me, it warmed not only my body, but made my heart glow still more ardently. (1847)
In conclusion, my brief examination would suggest that: Andersen was bisexual, not gay; that his friend Collin was not ‘disgusted’ by him but felt somewhat awkward that he could not return Andersen’s affections - whether he perceived these to be sexual or platonic is difficult to say - and that after this Andersen managed to have a fairly satisfying, if at a distance, relationship with a man who understood his desire for a highly affectionate, homoamorous but not sexual, relationship, and who returned his affections in regular letters for decades.
If you’ve previously reblogged this story, perhaps you’d like to reblog my notes? :)
Rictor Norton, My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters through the Centuries (1998)
Robert LePage, “Bedtime Stories” (The Guardian, 2006)
Robert Maclean, “Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier’: Variations upon Silence and Love” (2011)
This is why I love having intensely awesome historian friends. <3
A quick note; Asexuals can and often do masturbate.