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Hans Christian Andersen in Trumpland

Puzzled Americans have turned to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, particularly “the Ugly Duckling” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to explain the 2016 presidential election and the popularity of Donald J. Trump. In post-election discussions of the Trump phenomenon, political and cultural commentators have found in Andersen’s texts explanations for contemporary American politics in general and the unstable 45th President in particular. In “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” for example, Andersen depicts a narcissistic leader given to self-promotion, emotional outbursts, outside validation and fake news, a parallel to the current US President that has not gone unnoticed outside the faithful Trump electorate.  Andersen also stresses confrontation, in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” through the figure of the young boy who insists on the truth: “But he hasn’t got anything on!”  This ending gives hope to the newly-elected young Democrats in Congress and to those who want to uphold American institutions and a Democratic world order.  Andersen sees words—written and spoken—as a safeguard against fakery and abuse and shows the path towards resistance and truth, despite the endeavors of Donald J. Trump to take his country in the opposite direction.


Interested in fairy tales and US politics? Read more in Clara Juncker’s article (in English) “Hans Christian Andersen in Trumpland, published in Aktualitet. 

Editing was completed: 16.04.2019