Andersen. The Nightingale Illustrations by Edmund Dulac
For a long time Andersen had lived in Copenhagen, in the Neuhavn area where the old narrow channel from the sea got as far as the city center; and along the channel, cleaving to each other, there were little houses with peaked roofs. A real port life in turmoil right under his windows!
Sailors from the moored ships brought their stories "from the East Indies or the West Indies", just like the sailor in "The Old Street Lamp."
"The Nightingale" is the story completely dedicated to the East - the scene is set in China. And although Andersen had never been there, China - of course, in a very peculiar form - lured him from the childhood.
When Hans Christian was a little boy, an old laundress told him that the Emperor of China lived on the bottom of the river Odense. The boy sang songs on the river bank expecting the Emperor to appear on the surface and take him under the water to the Emperor's palace.
In 1843 Tivoli Gardens opened In Copenhagen. Chinese aesthetics - of course, in the European refraction - was always present in the Tivoli from the outset.
Andersen wrote in his diary that he had visited Tivoli and started a Chinese tale.
Well, Andersen could describe the palace of Emperor from Chinese tea pavilion, which had already been built in the end of 18th century Frederiksberg Gardens, when chinoiserie was particularly fashionable among European royalty and aristocrats.
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