HCA Ambassadors appointed in Egypt
On the 13th of January HRH Prince Joachim of Denmark appointed one Honorary HCA Ambassador and two HCA Ambassadors at the Bibliotecha Alexandrina in Egypt. At the event the Egyptian HCA projects and the new Arabic translation of the works of Hans Christian Andersen were also presented.
By tkr - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 12 January 2005
The Egyptian contribution to the worldwide celebration of the 2005 Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary was presented at an event at Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria on 13 January 2005 at 11:30 am.
The event was presided over by HRH Prince Joachim of Denmark who appointed the First Lady of Egypt, Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, as Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador. Mrs Suzanne Mubarak has through a number of years endeavoured to improve women's and children's rights and has in this capacity shown great commitment to ensuring improved access to literature for children. Mrs Suzanne Mubarak is the patron of Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Furthermore, the director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Mr Ismail Serageldin, was appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador. The CEO of the publishing house Dār al-Madā in Damascus, Mr Fakhrī Karīm, has also accepted the post as Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador but was unfortunately unable to attend the event.
The Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors are to promote the awareness and appreciation of Hans Christian Andersen in Arabic-speaking countries as well as the rest of the world. Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Mrs Suzanne Mubarak and Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors Mr Ismail Serageldin and Mr Fakhrī Karīm will also represent the humanitarian HCA-abc Foundation, which has been established to address illiteracy worldwide in the name of Hans Christian Andersen.
At the event, the new Arabic translation of the works of Hans Christian Andersen undertaken by the Danish Royal Library was presented by the director of the Royal Library, Mr Erland Kolding Nielsen. The translation is first to be published in a paperback version featuring 23 fairytales. This edition will be distributed free of charge as a supplement with nine Arabic newspapers with a total circulation of more than 100,000 copies in eight Arabic-speaking countries. Later, a far more comprehensive edition will be published by the Dār al-Māda publishing house in collaboration with the Royal Library.
Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Mr Ismail Serageldin, held the opening address where after the Danish Ambassador to Egypt, Mr Bjarne Sųrensen, also held a short welcoming speech. On behalf of the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation, the Director of Public Affairs for the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation, Mr Christian Have, presented the worldwide celebration of the Andersen bicentenary. Mr Christian Have also presented the Hans Christian Andersen exhibition 'To Write is an Act of Love' which is to feature at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Cabinet Minister, Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs, Ms Tove Fergo spoke and following this, the Arabic translation of the fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen was presented by the Director of the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Erland Kolding Nielsen. HRH Prince Joachim then appointed the Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors.
Following the event, a press conference was then held at the Alexandria Club, which was concluded with a reception where the Danish-Egyptian band Kuhjan & Friends/Oriental Mood featuring Lars Bo Kujahns, Raeed Zaeed, Kadry Surour, Yaki Youssef and Yasar Tas, performed a rap/hip-hop composition inspired by Hans Christian Andersen and drawing on oriental and Danish musical tradition. The Danish Ambassador to Egypt, Mr Bjarne Sųrensen, and the Danish Consul-General in Alexandria, Mr Amr Abdel Kader El Naggar, hosted the reception.
The entire event was co-hosted by the Royal Danish Embassy in Egypt, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Danish General Consulate in Alexandria, and the Royal Library in Copenhagen in association with the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation.
Hans Christian Andersen in Arabic
The new Arabic translation of the fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen has been undertaken by the Royal Library in Copenhagen and will be published by the Dār al-Māda publishing house in Damascus, Syria, which is headed by the Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Mr Fakhrī Karīm. The translation has been sponsored by the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation. The fairytales are translated by the Iraqi-born authoress Mrs Duna Ghali, who lives in Denmark, in association with Mr Stig T. Rasmussen, who is a specialist in the Arabic language and Arabic literature and Director of the Oriental and Judaic Department of the Royal Library in Copenhagen.
The new Arabic translation will be published in two editions. One featuring a selection of 23 of Andersen's fairytales, which will be distributed as a free supplement with 100,000 copies of nine Arabic newspapers in eight Arabic-speaking countries during January 2005 as part of the 'Free Book for All' project. The nine newspapers are: al-Safīr in the Lebanon, al-Hayāt in Saudi Arabia, al-Thawrah in Syria, al-Qāhirah in Egypt, al-Bayān in The United Arab Emirates, al-Ayyām in Bahrain, al-Qabas in Kuwait, al-Madā al-Yawmiyyah and al-Ittihād in Iraq.
A later edition will be published featuring far more of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales as well as in-depth presentations of Hans Christian Andersen's art and literary analysis of some of his fairytales. This exclusive and beautifully bound edition will be published in 2005 by the Dār al-Māda publishing house in Damascus in a 2000 copy edition.
This is the first translation of Andersen's fairytales that has been translated directly from Danish to Arabic in such a nuanced and faithful manner. This new translation goes to great length in mirroring Hans Christian Andersen's characteristic manner of speaking and refined play with words.
Featured below is an excerpt of the preface to the first edition of the Arabic translation of the fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen.
Hans Christian Andersen, who lived between 1805 and 1875, became one of Denmark's great poets, and many considered him to be Denmark's national poet. He wrote novels, plays and poems, but his very unique contribution to world literature are his fairytales. They mirror the style of the folktale, and some even build on folktales the poet heard as a child. Yet Andersen's fairytales are far more complex. They are multi-levelled and the best of them are as rewarding for adult readers as they are for children.
The poet himself says: "my fairytales are just as rewarding for those who are older as for children, who only understand the outer trappings of the stories, which they will only grasp in their entirety as mature adults. The naļve is only a part of my fairytales, whereas humour is the salt." and "The style must allow you to hear the storyteller, so the language must resemble oral discourse directed towards children, but those that are older should also be able to listen". In his autobiography The Fairy Tale of My Life from 1855 he sums it up: "I had in the first booklet [...] in my own way given old fairytales that I had heard as a child the tone that they in my ears still resonated, which to me was as natural as could be; yet I knew that the critics would rebuke me for such language. To place readers on an even level, I called them Fairytales told for Children although my intention was that they should be for both children and those older."
Hans Christian Andersen writes for the inner child in us all - the inner core that enjoys immediate access to the often hidden aspects of our personality - as well as the contemplative adult. His works deal with the dark and brighter sides - our positive qualities and shortcomings, our human condition, the transition from childhood to adult life, honesty and dishonesty - as well as societal powers, such as our misfortune and success, injustice and - sometimes - justice. Andersen's best fairytales shed light on issues of both individual and societal character but with great humour.
Hans Christian Andersen in Arabic
You may well consider The Tales of 1001 Nights to be the Arabic parallel to Hans Christian Andersen, or the Kalīlah wa-Dimnah with their subtle poetic description of the Arabian desert, or the witty and wise maqāmāt al-Harīrī's or al-Mutanabbī. The Tales of 1001 Nights reflect the Middle Arabic language, and have never really been acknowledged as high literature in the Arabic-speaking world in much the same way that folktales were never really recognised as high literature in Denmark. Yet folktales form part of the basis for Andersen's narrative art, and the best of his fairytales with their simple colloquial language carry a depth that is seldom found in the high style of literature.
This is the unique challenge when translating Hans Christian Andersen into Arabic. If you translate him into Classic Arabic you lose the sense of informality reflected in his language: i.e. the adult storyteller reading to a child - and to his or her self too. Colloquial Arabic, on the other hand, allows you far more readily to translate a number of everyday expressions and exclamations that you do not find in Standard Arabic. However, the price is loss of artistic elegance. The solution has been to maintain Standard Arabic as the basic linguistic medium but to add the rhythm and to some extent expressions of Colloquial Arabic to reflect Hans Christian Andersen's style.
The fairytales in this book have been selected to represent all stages of the literary oeuvre of the storyteller. We have selected the shorter ones and the ones that do not require prior knowledge of Denmark.
Stig T. Rasmussen
The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark
For further information, please contact Stig T. Rasmussen
Tel. +45 33 47 48 90
The Exhibition 'Writing is an Act of Love' at Bibliotheca Alexandrina
In addition to the appointment of the Egyptian Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors and the publication of a new translation into Arabic of Andersen's fairytales, a Hans Christian Andersen exhibition, entitled 'Writing is an Act of Love', will be featured at Bibliotheca Alexandrina in late 2005.
A description of the exhibition is given below:
As part of the celebration of the bicentenary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, Thorvaldsen's Museum in association with the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation, UNESCO, and the Danish Ministry of Education present an exhibition focusing on a selection of Hans Christian Andersen's diaries and almanacs.
With this exhibition, the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation wishes to mark the establishing of the HCA-abc Foundation, which is to address illiteracy worldwide in the name of Hans Christian Andersen. In addition, Thorvaldsen's Museum wishes to highlight the influence Thorvaldsen had on Hans Christian Andersen.
The exhibition will be featured at Thorvaldsen's Museum in Copenhagen and at other interested institutions. Currently, the exhibition is scheduled for the UNESCO building in Paris, and there are also plans to present it at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria.
Exhibition Manager: Director Stig Miss, Thorvaldsen's Museum, Copenhagen
Initiators: The Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation and Danish Ambassador to OECD and UNESCO, Peter Brückner
Curator: Annesofie Becker
Production manager: Martin Christiansen
Exhibition architects: Alexander Haslund Damsbo and Henrik Ingemann Nielsen.
Exhibition furniture supplied by: Källemo, Sweden
The thoughts behind the exhibition
It is widely recognised that Hans Christian Andersen lived to write, but he also wrote to live. And he kept a diary in which he recorded his thoughts about writing and living.
Selected examples of Andersen's diaries, covering the period from 1825 to 1875, constitute the core of this exhibition, which focuses on how Hans Christian Andersen conquered the written word - and how he made use of this conquest.
Hans Christian Andersen's manuscripts, including his diaries, have been included in the UNESCO 'Memory of the World' records. Hans Christian Andersen remains among the most widely read authors in the world. He is also the second most widely translated.
Andersen's diaries were written by a man who learned to read and write at a relatively late stage in life. As a young man he had to struggle to acquire these skills, which made him even more keenly aware that learning to master the art of reading and writing was essential in order to survive, and to become who he was meant to be. Andersen was never in doubt as to the importance of writing and the right to acquire this skill.
Seen in this light, the diaries constitute a powerful record of Andersen's conquest of the written word. They are also the key to understanding his recognition of the significance of writing as a road to the outside world - the wide world that Hans Christian Andersen's role model and mentor, the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, had already conquered before him.
Andersen's many reflections on the importance of writing in establishing dialogue and reaching out constitute the core message of the exhibition.
The exhibition title is a quote by the American author Paul Auster, who - inspired by the French poet Jean Cocteau - said: "I have always felt that everything I write is aimed at someone. It is part of a dialogue. It is not written in a vacuum. It is not a private journal or diary. It is written for others. A book does not exist if it is not being read. It always constitutes a relationship. Writing is an act of love" (Paul Auster in an interview with the Danish national daily, Politiken, 12 May 2002)
Hans Christian Andersen underscores and exemplifies Auster's statement that all literature constitutes a dialogue. Andersen, more than anyone, always wrote to someone. He collected readers; nothing made him as 'truly cheerful of spirit' as meeting a stranger who turned out to know - and appreciate - his writings.
The exhibition, to be featured in the Hans Christian Andersen bicentennial year, grants the public the opportunity to become familiar with a selection of Andersen's diaries and almanacs from the collection at the Royal Library in Copenhagen.
Andersen's diaries and almanacs have not yet become popular reading and are the least known of his works, yet they are a gift that it seems only natural to pass on. They are high in entertainment value, and they hold the key to Hans Christian Andersen's life and work. The diaries were published between 1971 and 1977, and their indexes of names, works, subjects, and places, represent invaluable entry points for a true understanding and appreciation of Andersen's time.
The exhibition will relate the story of the diaries - how Andersen used them and what their significance was to him. The exhibition catalogue will furthermore tell the story of their publication.
The exhibition will highlight selected works and provide new perspectives on Andersen:
- How Hans Christian Andersen conquered the written word
- Andersen's thoughts on reading and writing
- Thorvaldsen's influence on Andersen's self-awareness as a writer
- Andersen's recognition of writing as a lead to the external world
The focus of the exhibition will alternate depending on the venue, emphasising different aspects of the diaries. An added benefit of this flexible approach is that the fragile manuscripts will not be too heavily exposed.
In Copenhagen, the exhibition will primarily address Hans Christian Andersen's relationship with Bertel Thorvaldsen (the diaries will be supplemented by their mutual correspondence). Thorvaldsen was the catalyst for Andersen's true birth as a writer during Andersen's sojourn in Rome, 1833-34. It was Thorvaldsen who helped Andersen through his first, harrowing creative crisis, and it was Thorvaldsen who opened Andersen's eyes to what the visual arts can do. Thorvaldsen's significance as mentor, reader, friend, and maestro exemplifies the sentiment expressed by the exhibition title. Many people in the circle around Andersen offered support and succour, but Thorvaldsen's understanding of Andersen's spirit and mindset accorded him a special status in Andersen's mind and proved crucial for the writer's body of work.
In Paris and Alexandria, the exhibition will focus on the necessity of reading and writing in reaching out to people and our human right to acquire these skills.
Architectural concept/display layout
At Thorvaldsen's Museum in Copenhagen, the exhibition will be featured in the museum's large hall. This monumental space was designed by the Danish architect M.G. Bindesbųll and built between 1839 and 1848. The hall houses some of Thorvaldsen?s greatest works from the 1820s and 1830s, a period where Thorvaldsen's fame was at its peak. Hans Christian Andersen's boundless admiration of Thorvaldsen and his universe gave rise to a keen interest in classical art and to an endless succession of visits to museums, collections, and artist's workshops wherever he roamed in the world.
The exhibition comprises an approximately 4-meter long chromium-plated showcase with convex sides - a jewel case home to the heart of the exhibition: a selection of Hans Christian Andersen priceless diaries and almanacs. The glass is encased with steel filigree inspired by Andersen's paper cuts. On each side, this filigree pattern embraces a number of Andersen's enigmatic "mill men" - paper-cut men with two hearts and a ladder leading to their box-shaped pelvis. Thus, the records hide behind a fairytale-like pattern, a veil that helps accentuate their secretive, ambiguous nature and their value as a key to Andersen?s life and writing. In the fairytale The Princess and the Pea, the famous pea ends up in the Cabinet of Curiosities "- where it can still be viewed today if no-one has taken it..." In this exhibition, Hans Christian Andersen's own unprepossessing manuscripts are on display; writings that, like the pea, can only be truly appreciated if you know their context. The diary showcase itself reflects its own aesthetic, historical, and didactic realm and is a symbol of the significance of the act of writing.
The diary showcase is surrounded by ten large, white listening chairs where the wings double as earphones to feature audio tracks.
Here, the exhibition narrative is related through readings of fairytales and diary entries. A number of readers will be selected from the ranks of the specially appointed Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors. We will endeavour to feature the readings in the UN languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, German, Arabic, and Chinese.
Each chair will feature its own narrative: one set of earphones will relate a fairytale while another will read a diary entry. The chair becomes a space for contemplation and a medium for responsive awareness of the themes and subject matter of the exhibition. The armrest allows space for books and will feature the exhibition catalogue for further contemplation. Sitting in the listening chair will transport you to another realm, and this travel theme is accentuated by the fact that when folded, the chair reminds you of Andersen's fairytale The Flying Trunk. Thus, the listening chairs feature as combined chairs, tables, and stools. The white colour and the bulky yet elegant design recall a fairytale by Andersen that is central to the exhibition: The Ugly Duckling who, as we all know, is transformed into a beautiful swan.
The diary showcase and the chairs will be screened by a curtain - or veil - with two openings, thus constituting an independent time pocket, an intimate sphere. Just as Hans Christian Andersen shrouds his messages in the veil of fiction, audiences must go behind the curtain to discover what the exhibition contains.
Other points concerning the exhibition
As part of the bicentennial celebrations, one of the private benefactors of this grand project, the Bikuben Foundation, has established HCA-abc Foundation, which is a humanitarian foundation that addresses illiteracy worldwide in the name of Hans Christian Andersen.
This initiative has generated great interest at UNESCO. When the UN millennium objective entitled 'Education for all' is addressed during UNESCO's 33rd General Conference in Paris in the autumn of 2005, this will hopefully take place with Hans Christian Andersen as figurehead. The exhibition will be on display at the UNESCO building in Paris as a prelude to the General Conference and will thus also be featured on the international Literacy Day, 8 September 2005.
It has been proposed that the exhibition is to conclude in Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Following the yet undecided term of the exhibition, it will be featured permanently at the new world library in a special Andersen room. This initiative reflects the recently adopted policy by the Danish government to help improve mutual understanding between the western and Arabic worlds. The original materials will be on display in Copenhagen and Paris and during the initial exhibition period in Alexandria. At the permanent show at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the materials will, however, later be replaced by facsimiles.
Facts on the Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador and the Hans Christian Andersen Ambassadors
Honorary Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Mrs Suzanne Mubarak
Mrs Suzanne Mubarak is the First Lady of Egypt and holds a Masters Degree in the Sociology of Education. She has participated in a wide range of international and regional activities and conferences hosted by the UN, WHO, UNESCO and UNICEF concerning the rights of women and children as well as issues of health, peace and development. Mrs Suzanne Mubarak is the founder of "The Integrated Care Society", which supports social, cultural and educational activities for children and the young and furthermore works to establish children's libraries all across Egypt. She actively supports the publication of children's books in Egypt and is the founder of the first reference centre for children's literature in Egypt. She is highly acclaimed for her social commitment and for promoting reading in Egypt, and she is furthermore the patron of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Mr Ismail Serageldin
Mr Ismail Serageldin is the Director of the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the modern version of the ancient library of Alexandria. With a Ph.D. from Harvard University, Mr Serageldin has for many years held positions at the World Bank, serving as President and Vice President for various projects in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mr Ismail Serageldin has been appointed Honorary Doctor at several universities worldwide and is a member of national and international cultural boards and academies. He has written more than 50 publications and 200 articles and reports on a range of subjects, and as the Director of the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina he not only promotes the sciences and the humanities but also focuses on humanitarian causes, development issues, and intercultural dialogue.
Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Mr Fakhrī Karīm
Mr Fakhrī Karīm is the chief editor of the Dār al-Mada publishing house in Damascus, which was founded in the early 1990's with the aim of enriching the Arabic-speaking world with literature translated from many foreign languages. Their publications include a Nobel series featuring all Nobel price-winners in literature as well as a series of women's and children's literature and a series devoted to the great thinkers within politics, art and culture. The publishing house has initiated a project entitled Free Books with all Newspapers. In the course of the first three years, 36 books have been published including the new edition of Hans Christian Andersen's tales. The al-Māda Foundation, of which Fakhrī Karīm is president, has also initiated a number of Arabic art centres, a TV channel and an annual cultural festival featuring a wide range of events.
Facts about Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria
Patron: The First Lady of Egypt, Mrs Suzanne Mubarak
Director: Mr Ismail Serageldin
The new library in Alexandria, established by the Egyptian state with support from UNESCO, opened in 2002. It is located on the Mediterranean coast very close to the original library of antiquity. Apart from the 8 million volumes it possesses, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina offers six special libraries, 3 museums, 2 permanent exhibitions, a planetarium, an experimentarium, 6 art galleries, a conference centre and 7 research institutes.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina has 800,000 visitors annually.
The Alexandria library of antiquity had its golden age between 300 BC and 300 AD when the library was believed to contain a collection of more than one hundred thousand papyrus and parchment rolls. The library was destroyed by Roman troops in 272 AD.