28/2/19, 18h : ”Ah! quel plaisir d’être soldat!” Hans Christian Andersen, music, and the soldier.

Jens Hesselager, University of Copenhagen

Salle 4103, le patio. Plan d’accès : http://mob.u-strasbg.fr/geoloc/index.html?permalinkId=28

Like the other chapters in Hans Christian Andersens novel Kun en Spillemand (1837), chapter 9 begins with an epigraph. It reads: “Ah! quel plaisir d’être soldat” – quoting the then popular opéra-comique La dame blanche (1825), words by E. Scribe and music by A. Boieldieu. The chapter concerns the protagonist’s father leaving for war-services, and then, not long thereafter, the arrival of a letter announcing his death.

In my presentation, I will take my cue from this epigraph. I want to address, first, the general question of how to interpret ‘musical’ intertextual references such as this one. How may a reading of such references I will seek to make a case for a reading of such references that take into account not only the verbal, but also the vocal and musical qualities of the ‘hypotext’?

Secondly, I want to ask how the figure of the soldier, as evoked and implicitly ‘musicalized’ here – and also elsewhere – by Andersen, relates to a wider context of musical representations of soldiers – sometimes young, sometimes female – in musical-theatrical repertoires, in which issues of conscription, masculinity, discipline, patriotism, bravery, anxiety, mutilation etc. are being negotiated (or muted, repressed).