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The True Story of My Life

by Hans Christian Andersen

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My life is a lovely story, happy and full of incident. If, when I was a boy, and went forth into the world poor and friendless, a good fairy had met me and said, "Choose now thy own course through life, and the object for which thou wilt strive, and then, according to the development of thy mind, and as reason requires, I will guide and defend thee to its attainment," my fate could not, even then, have been directed more happily, more prudently, or better. The history of my life will say to the world what it says to me-There is a loving God, who directs all things for the best. My native land, Denmark, is a poetical land, full of popular traditions, old songs, and an eventful history, which has become bound up with that of Sweden and Norway. The Danish islands are possessed of beautiful beech woods, and corn and clover fields: they resemble gardens on a great scale. Upon one of these green islands, Funen, stands Odense, the place of my birth. Odense is called after the pagan god Odin, who, as tradition states, lived here: this place is the capital of the province, and lies twenty-two Danish miles from Copenhagen.

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All was sunshine--all was spring! The vine hung in long trails from tree to tree; never since have I seen Italy so beautiful. I sailed on Lago Maggiore; ascended the cathedral of Milan; passed several days in Genoa, and made from thence a journey, rich in the beauties of nature, along the shore to Carrara. I had seen statues in Paris, but my eyes were closed to them; in Florence, before the Venus de Medici, it was for the first time as if scales fell from my eyes; a new world of art disclosed itself before me; that was the first fruit of my journey. Here it was that I first learned to understand the beauty of form--the spirit which reveals itself in form. The life of the people--nature-- all was new to me; and yet as strangely familiar as if I were come to a home where I had lived in my childhood.



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