Frank Hugus, professor of German and Scandinavian studies, will discuss his recent annotated translation of Hans Christian Andersen’s debut novel “The Improvisatore” on Tuesday, Sept. 18 in a program in New York City sponsored by the American-Scandinavian Foundation.
The free presentation will be at 7 p.m. at Scandinavia House, 58 Park Ave.
Published to great acclaim in 1835, “The Improvisatore” initially eclipsed Andersen’s fairy tales, which first appeared that same year. In this first English translation since the 1840s, Hugus captures the brilliance and brio, the sweep and the nuance that made “The Improvisatore” one of Andersen’s most widely read and best loved works.
The novel’s hero, Antonio—much like Andersen himself—rises from impoverished beginnings to become a successful artist, at every turn learning charming and often alarming lessons in the ways of the world. Adopted by a nobleman, smitten with an opera singer, challenged to a duel, captured by bandits, beset by a temptress, Antonio follows a dizzying itinerary on his path to enlightenment and, perhaps, happiness. Along the way he experiences the delights of Italian culture and nature.
In more than 45 years at the university, Hugus has taught courses ranging from Andersen to Old Norse to modern Scandinavian literature. He has published numerous articles on 19th and 20th century Danish literature, with a focus on Andersen, and has written on medieval Icelandic literature.
Hugus also has translated three novels by the Danish author and painter Hans Scherfig (1905-79): “Stolen Spring” (1986), “The Missing Bureaucrat” (1988), and “Idealists” (1991), as well as many short stories by contemporary Danish authors.
Following the Sept. 18 discussion, copies of “The Improvisatore” will be available for purchase and signing.