*In one of the rare general studies of Schiller’s influence abroad Kurt Wais admonishes Germanists not to neglect the North and the East in favor of the South and the West, as he felt they were doing at the time of writing in the mid-1950s. During the intervening forty years scholars appear to have heeded his exhortation with regard to the East. Building on an already substantial foundation, Kostka’s Schiller in Russian Literature (1965) and Harder’s Schiller in Rußland (1969) head the list of some ninety titles recorded in the “Schiller-Bibliographie” published in the Jahrbuch der deutschen Schillergesellschaft between 1962 and 1991. This work both testifies to an intensified interest in Schiller’s influence in Eastern Europe and lends credence to Wais’s often repeated contention that this impact was greater in Russia, which garnered nearly two-thirds of the studies, than in any other foreign country. The same cannot be said with respect to the North, not even to Denmark, which, as I shall explain momentarily, one might expect to have received special attention; during the period mentioned above, the bibliography in the Schiller-Jahrbuch registers only eight relevant titles. For reasons that are not entirely clear scholars during the fifties did not have a significant tradition to draw on and themselves had to continue the process of laying groundwork. Moreover, inquiry into Dano-German literary relations in general during the period from ca. 1770 to 1850 has proceeded largely along epochal lines, seeking to determine, for example, the role of the “Age of Goethe” in Danish letters, and most commentators understand the term “Goethezeit” in the sense of “Goethe and the German Romantic” reflecting a modern, i.e., postwar bias rather than historical fact. During the main phase of Schiller’s influence in Denmark, to mention only one perspective, six of his plays went across the boards a total of 46 times, while only three of Goethe’s dramas managed a modest 12 performances. Consequently, much of the work on Schiller and Denmark dates from the early part of this century, and many additional specialized studies must be conducted before a synthetic treatment can even be contemplated. The following pages respond to this state of affairs by presenting first an introductory overview and then a case study of Schiller’s presence in Denmark. The latter offers an instructive example of how a reading by a foreigner can provide at least the potential for a corrective re-reading, indeed, a re-examination of basic assumptions, on the part of the author’s countrymen.
Contrary to the impression perhaps created by scholarship Schiller did in fact represent an artistic and intellectual force in Denmark, and it is no small wonder that he did so and that he did so there sooner than in other parts of the North. From 1721 to 1801 Scandinavia experienced that proverbial “Ruhe des Nordens” – eight decades of (relatively) undisturbed development – which in Denmark made possible what has been described as the lengthiest and most successful national period of enlightened absolutism in all of Europe. Germany contributed decisively to this success by furnishing the Danish kings with a series of ministers and other officials who combined liberal convictions with singular ability and effectiveness. In addition to his contributions in the political sphere Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff, foreign minister and principle adviser to Frederik V, gathered “eine deutsche Tafelrunde” in Copenhagen that included, among many others, Gerstenberg and Klopstock and that from about 1750 to 1770 heavily influenced Danish writers such as Johannes Ewald, the main representative of sentimentalism and literary Pietism in Denmark. German dominance and especially the excesses of Johann Friedrich Struensee led in the seventies and eighties to the aristocratic reaction of Ove Høegh-Guldberg in politics and the “Danish” satire of Peder Andreas Heiberg in literature. Following the palace coup of 1784, however, Bernstorff’s nephew, Andreas Peter, resumed his duties as foreign minister and, together with his son and successor, Christian, maintained a German influence at court until well beyond the turn of the century, while during the early eighties Ewald passed the standard of Danish literature along to the young Jens Baggesen, a Germanophile who did perhaps more than anyone else to pave Schiller’s way into Denmark. When Baggesen began popularizing Schiller in the early nineties, the Danish “helstat”, or unitary state, included Denmark, Norway, Schleswig, and Holstein as well as a number of other German lands, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Even after Norway fell to Sweden in 1814 it retained strong cultural ties to Denmark for many decades and never developed comparable relations with its neighbor to the east. Sweden’s assimilation of German idealism, which occurred largely independently of Denmark, did not begin until around 1809.
According to Peter Boerner the literature of the “Goethezeit” was received abroad in three stages: an initial phase of “Kontaktaufnahme” that extended from the last quarter of the eighteenth century to around Napoleon’s fall; a “Blütezeit” running from the appearance of Madame de Stael’s De l’Allemagne in 1813 to the middle of the nineteenth century; and, finally, an “Epoche des Vergessens” that continues today. Schiller’s reception in Denmark generally followed this line of development. Partly for reasons stated earlier, however, it anticipated each of the three stages.
Baggesen’s role in this process is not unfamiliar. Interested and productive in both Danish and German letters, he in the late 1780s gained access to a highly influential circle of political and cultural figures of both nationalities, where he found and won friends for Schiller. Learning of Schiller’s poor health and financial straits in 1791, he enlisted the aid of Duke Frederik Christian of Augustenborg, who, in the spirit of the cosmopolitanism he saw in Don Carlos, awarded Schiller a stipend of a thousand Taler annually for three years, a kindness which Schiller repaid with what eventually became Über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen in einer Reihe von Briefen. It was precisely the spirit of Weltbürgertum, humanity, and freedom in Schiller’s work that most appealed to Baggesen, who did not take the older writer as a model for his own plays, and that moved him to promote Schiller in his homeland.
The first Dane to follow Schiller in the customary sense was Adam Oehlenschlaeger, whom Baggesen in 1800 hailed as the next leading poet of Denmark and who also became Schiller’s greatest enthusiast in the country. Of Danish and German heritage and, like Baggesen, writing in both languages, Oehlenschlaeger indeed dominated Danish literature during what has been called the “klassische Romantik der Dänen” and remained productive and influential until his death in 1850. In Schiller’s plays he admired the reconciliation of ancient Greek fate tragedy and modern character drama; the use of history as the setting for the testing of human greatness before fate and for the idealized struggle of ideas embodied by prominent individuals; and, finally, the mastery of dramatic form. He demonstrated this admiration in a series of lectures on Schiller’s works which he held as Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen in the winter of 1810 and 1811 and, perhaps more trenchantly, in national-historical, “Nordic”, tragedies such as Hakon Jarl and Palnatoke.
In varying ways and degrees Schiller influenced a number of other Danish writers, and not only dramatists. The poetry of Schack v. Staffeldt, for example, a German who did his best work in Danish, reveals reminiscences of the Schiller of “Die Götter Griechenlands” and “Die Künstler” as well as the ballads. Bernhard Severin Ingemann’s acquaintance with Schiller’s theater left its mark on his historical novels. Schiller’s emphasis on history and national-historical themes also echoes in the verse and prose of Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig, the major figure in the national awakening in Denmark during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Schiller reached Denmark not only through the creative work of Danish writers but by more direct means as well. Traveling German theater companies presented some of his plays in the original language as early as 1791, and Danish translations of his plays (and poetry) began to appear with regularity by 1801. Several of these were done by Knud Lyne Rahbek, a writer and casual acquaintance of Schiller, who, particularly as editor of several literary magazines and member of the board of directors of the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, did much to familiarize the Danish public with Schiller and to find a place for him on the Danish stage. For reasons that resist satisfactory explanation Schiller was not performed in the Royal Theater until 1817, and he never even remotely approached the popularity of Kotzebue and Iffland. Over the next twenty years, however, he asserted a position ahead of other “classical” German writers such as Goethe and Kleist and remained a possession of the cultural elite in Denmark as well as in Germany. Between 1837 and 1888, to be sure, only one of his plays appeared for a single season in the repertoire of the Royal Theater. Due to the development of national romanticism and national liberalism in both Denmark and Germany the Schleswig-Holstein question began to bedevil relations between the two countries as early as the 1830s, eventually leading to the wars of 1848-1851 and 1864, and surely played a major role in the decline of Schiller’s popularity. Not until well after the dust had settled from the war between the Danish and Austro-Prussian armies and from the Gründerjahre did Schiller experience a renaissance, a wave of new translations and performances that subsided around 1911 in the face of renewed political tensions and a literary scene still dominated by Georg Brandes.
Schiller did not inspire a coherent school of followers in Denmark, for which reason Schmitz denies him “eine echte Nachfolge” there. However, an acknowledged and demonstrable impact on a poet’s notions of art, community, nation, and the like surely represents an authentic discipleship, whatever the specific manifestation, and in this sense, as Baggesen’s case suggests, Schiller had a significant following. Another noteworthy case in point is Hans Christian Andersen.
Andersen’s fairy tales have been translated into well over a hundred languages and continue to appear in millions of copies all over the world. His fame today derives exclusively from these works, which perhaps explains in part his consignment to children’s literature in the English-speaking world. However, his lifework also includes poetry, plays, novels, and travel books, which indeed comprise 12 of the 15 volumes of the Samlede Skrifter of 1876-1880, the most complete edition of his works to date. In Scandinavia and in some circles abroad he is still considered an artist of considerable stature, and during his lifetime he was lionized throughout Europe and America, especially in Germany, many of whose literary figures he knew personally.
Apropos of his relationship with German literature Andersen is usually viewed as being akin to Romantics such as Fouqué, Chamisso, and particularly E. T. A. Hoffmann. As a representative of the “klassische Romantik der Dänen,” however, he also discloses ties to Classicism and the earlier eighteenth century, not least of all in his concept of art as a means of revealing, rather than transcending, reality and in his ideas on religion and progress. It therefore comes as no surprise that, as a youth, he considered whether or not to take Schiller, among others, as a model for his work and that he indeed patterned one of his earliest plays, The Robbers of Vissenberg, after Die Räuber. Between 1831 and 1873 he traveled to or through Germany numerous times, spending eight longer and shorter visits in Weimar alone. Acquainted with Rahbek, Baggesen, and Oehlenschlaeger from his teens, he now became friends with Archduke Carl Alexander and, back home, with Christian August, the son of Frederik Christian and the current Duke of Augustenborg. He also met many other individuals directly or indirectly connected with Schiller, for example, his son, Karl, and grandsons, Friedrich and Ludwig, as well as the elderly Karoline von Wolzogen, who gave him an autograph of her brother-in-law. He visited Schiller’s home, paid his respects at the Fürstengruft, saw the poet’s skull, witnessed the unveiling of new monuments, and made a point of going by others. In his extensive and detailed diaries he records every physical and literary comparison made between him and the German, even if it happened to be drawn by a barmaid. While such may seem to reflect little more than an enthusiast possessed of innocuous vanity – and Andersen was indeed a “fan” of cultural and political luminaries second to none -, he also saw and/or read all of Schiller’s plays, some of them repeatedly, and appears to have been conversant with much of the poetry as well.
In the wake of the centenary of Schiller’s birth in 1859 Andersen received a request from an acquaintance named Friedrich Anton Serre to contribute to a volume to be entitled Schiller-Album. Serre, whose estate near Dresden Andersen visited numerous times, published the commemorative collection of previously unpublished letters of Schiller and writings by contemporary notables in 1861 in connection with the founding of the Allgemeine deutsche National-Lotterie, which he created to support the Schiller and Tiedge Foundations, established to assist needy artists and their families. Given his celebrity in Germany, it is not surprising that Andersen received the invitation; in view of his cordial regard for Serre and deep respect for Schiller, moreover, it is altogether understandable that he accepted it. What may not be immediately clear, and what in any case has not been examined heretofore, is why he chose “Das Lied von der Glocke” as a point of departure and what this choice says about his relationship to Schiller.
To state the obvious: Schiller’s poem has not fared well over the greater part of this century. It has the dubious distinction of being probably the most often parodied of all Schiller’s poems, having elicited 70 by as early as 1877, as well as having been selected for exclusion from Enzensberger’s Insel-anthology of 1966. Benno von Wiese suggests by way of explanation that the vitality of the poem diminished in the same measure as the bourgeois values it idealizes were increasingly called into question. There are other, related and more concrete reasons, of course, some of which have to do with the image of Schiller in Germany as it developed in concert with the unfolding of socio-political history in the nineteenth century. As Rainer Noltenius has recently written,
Von Schillers Tod bis 1848/49 wird Schiller von der bürgerlichen Opposition immerhin noch als Propagator demokratischer Freiheiten auf dem Weg zur einigen deutschen Nation gedeutet. Nach dem Scheitern der 48er Revolution bis 1871 überwiegt dann die Umstilisierung Schillers zum Heros nationalstaatlicher Einigung – notfalls auch undemokratischer Prägung (Nationalliberalismus) .
Schiller became the national poet of Germany, as the centennial celebration in 440 German and 50 foreign cities indicates, and “Das Lied von der Glocke” came to be considered his most important poem.  Dramatizations to musical settings appeared as early as the year of his death, and Andersen, always an avid theater-goer, saw at least two of them.
It almost goes without saying that this reception represents an oversimplification and distortion of Schiller’s thought and work. The nature of his response to the French Revolution and its aftermath remains a subject of discussion, to be sure. Against the background of reception theory and recent scholarship on nationalism, indeed, a “post-wall” study seeks to determine the extent to which his works actually lent themselves “zur Funktionalisierung als national-representatives Dichtwerk.” However, even this author proceeds with the understanding that Schiller died prior to the nationalistic agitation during the wars of liberation, not to mention the “Rheinkrise” of 1840, which according to modern historiography marks the beginning of German nationalism in the strict sense of the word. At least since Ursula Wertheim’s study of 1960 scholarship overwhelmingly ascribes to Schiller a cosmopolitanism (embracing a cosmopolitan concept of nation) in the positive sense of that already recognized by Baggesen and Duke Frederik Christian of Augustenborg. As Noltenius reminds us, Schiller never wrote a drama of liberation or republican unification with a German theme. According to recent commentary the plays that have been perceived in national-patriotic terms, most notably Die Jungfrau von Orleans and Wilhelm Tell, would appear to reflect the times through the prism of Schiller’s peculiar notions of morality and aesthetics rather than in any overt, exhortatory manner. Clearly, “Das Lied von der Glocke” relates more directly to the events of the seventeen eighties and nineties than these plays; the bourgeois opposition apparently overlooked or ignored the allusiveness of the master foundryman’s musings on the possible premature cracking of the bell mold and its consequences. Precisely because of the historical context – the poem appeared in 1800 – the Friede and Eintracht that the bell, Concordia, is to peal out involve not just Germans but all men. All the same, this is not the way the poem was understood in 1859, and it is this understanding that most concerns us here.
We recall that the poem consists of two interwoven strands – the process of casting the bell and the reflections of the master foundryman between stages, which are conditioned by these steps. The craftsman’s musings touch on childhood, youth, and adult concerns such as love, marriage, and work; they include reversals of fortune and self-incurred disaster, recovery, harvest, and the harvest dance – in short, archetypal scenes from family and community life which, as Forster writes, is “ordered and civilized, but menaced by forces from within and without and only preserved by wise self-discipline.” The bell, product of individual and common endeavor, symbollizes life in its order and fragility. At the same time it takes part in life, lending its tongue, as Schiller writes, to the passage of time and significant events in the community, and thus fulfills an important function of art, which it also represents.
Andersen’s tribute to Schiller assumed the form of a tale entitled “Die alte Kirchenglocke,” which appeared in German translation some months ahead of the Danish original in 1861. Like Schiller’s poem, it contains two entwined plot lines, one tracing the poet’s life and posthumous fame and the other dealing with the fortunes of the old church bell. At the beginning of the work it is as if Schiller’s bell has already been cast and raised, only a generation or so earlier than in the poem. For it accompanies the poet’s mother during her moments of distress prior to his birth: “da drang zu ihr hinein vom Kirchenthurme ein Glockenklang so tief, so festlich, es war eine feierliche Stunde und der Glockenklang erfüllte die Betende mit Andacht und Glauben” (57); and, following his birth into humble circumstances in Marbach, the bell “schien ihre Freude über Stadt und Land hinauszuläuten” (57). Despite its vantage point aloft the bell, which Andersen personifies throughout the tale, cannot tell what will become of the young Schiller – a parallel to the uncertainty of fate expressed in the poem. In the meantime he and the world around him grow, as the family moves to another town and he becomes acquainted with the Bible and the works of Gellert and Klopstock at his father’s knee.
At age six, Schiller and his mother visit friends in Marbach, where they find the old bell near the churchyard wall, its location since falling from the church tower and cracking. His mother then recounts how the bell had done its work for hundreds of years, accompanying people’s lives from baptism to burial, speaking of festivities as well as conflagrations, and then tells her son how it had rung to her just before and after his birth. In the fall and replacement of the old bell, as in the reference to the cracking of the mold in Schiller’s poem, one recognizes an allusion to the breach with tradition represented by the French Revolution. Seventeen sixty-five is not seventeen eighty-nine, to be sure. As the end of the tale clearly indicates and as we shall see, however, events and their meaning outweigh considerations of chronology. What is important here are the breakdown and then the restoration of continuity, which corresponds to the preservation of technical and sociopolitical order, despite all potential problems, in the poem. In keeping with the logic of the double allusion the role of the old bell passes not to the new one, which is scarcely mentioned, but rather to the young Schiller himself, who regards the old bell with reverence, “wie alt, zersprungen und hingeworfen sie auch dastand” (59) and stores it in both his memory and his heart.
This strand of the story goes on to trace Schiller’s rise from obscurity and poverty to fame and relative fortune, stressing the obstacles he encountered along the way. At the Karlsschule, for example, he received instruction “unter March! Halt! Front!…Da konnte schon was herauskommen!” (59), which represented the lot he had drawn “zu dem Stift, den er vorstellen sollte, in dem grossen Uhrwerke, wohin wir alle in dem handgreiflichen Nutzen hingehören” (59). Reference is then made to his flight from Stuttgart and the near fiasco preceding the acceptance of Fiesko in Mannheim. However, as Andersen writes, it is such pressure that creates a precious stone. Even in the Karlsschule the “metal” within Schiller’s breast rings out from within the circle of his comrades. As a man, this part of the tale concludes, “die Glocke in seiner Brust erschallte weiter hin als sein Fuss gehen, als seine Augen sehen sollten; sie sang und klang und klingt noch über das Weltmeer und das Erdenrund” (60). That is to say, Schiller sings of freedom, peace, and order, of his cosmopolitan ideal, and thereby, through his art, restores the continuity interrupted by the French Revolution and its aftermath.
The remainder of the story depicts the fate of the old bell, which is said to be no more certain than Schiller’s. As it turns out, its fortunes closely resemble his, for it, too, has bad days and travels further than it could have been heard, had it remained aloft. After many years, indeed, it is sold as scrap metal and shipped to Munich to be melted down for further use. Here, however, something “wunderlich und herrlich” transpires (61). The narrator briefly relates the life of the unnamed but clearly recognizable Bertel Thorvaldsen, which closely parallels that of Schiller. Thorvaldsen, probably the most world-renowned Danish artist of his age, has received a commission to execute a statue, “eine Gestalt der Grösse und Schönheit” (61). At this point we read, in the spirit of Schiller’s poem,
Und das Metall floss glühend in die Form, und die alte Glocke – ja, es dachte Niemand an ihre Heimath, an ihr hingestorbenes Läuten – die Glocke floss mit in die Form und bildete Haupt und Brust des Standbildes, das jetzt entschleiert da steht in Stuttgart vor dem alten Schlosse…wo Der, den es vorstellt, im Leben . . . da sang von dem Befreier der Schweiz und der gottbegeisterten Jungfrau Frankreichs. (61).
Then, with nothing more than the words “Es war ein schöner, sonniger Tag” (61), the time shifts tacitly from 1839, when Thorvaldsen’s statue was unveiled, to the Schiller festival twenty years later, as “Kirchenglocken läuteten zum Fest und zur Freude” (61). Here, just preceding the encomiastic conclusion of the work, the narrator states, “nur eine Glocke schwieg, sie leuchtete im hellen Sonnenschein, leuchtete von Gesicht und Brust der Ruhmesgestalt” (61-62).
If the modern reader is bothered by the pathos of Schiller’s poem, he may also find the sentimentality of Andersen’s tale distasteful. The contrived nature of the plot is patent, although fairy tale-like features such as the personification of the bell and the use of the wind as narrator in one passage perhaps diminish expectations of verisimilitude. While I have been unable to locate any German responses to the work, it received at least two, favorable reviews in Denmark, one of which reckons it among the author’s best. This, however, is an opinion that is not widely held today.
All such considerations aside, Andersen indeed evinces great respect for Schiller in his tale, for he acknowledges the German as the champion of bourgeois values throught art. In the process he himself asserts these shared values through his own art, establishing the textual identity of his work by entering into a symbiotic relationship with Schiller’s biography and poem, that is, drawing on them for the most essential elements of form and theme. No-one thinks of the old bell’s silence as it flows molten into the form, for it continues to ring out through Schiller’s words and the inspiration of his statue – as well, now, as through Andersen’s tale. Clearly, Schiller benefits from this symbiosis as much as or more so than Andersen, and he gains from it not least of all through his historical contextualization and re-contextualization in the story.
Earlier, we saw that Andersen has Schiller restore the traditional order disturbed by the French Revolution and its sequel. Just as the bell in the poem gathers “die liebende Gemeine” in harmony, so the bell in Schiller’s breast issues its appeal for accord “über das Weltmeer und das Erdenrund” (60). Like Schiller’s contemporary Danish admirers and most recent scholars, that is to say, Andersen recognizes the cosmopolitan nature of Schiller’s sociopolitical ideal and allows it to prevail during the poet’s own lifetime. However, he does not stop at this. We recall that the bell in Schiller’s breast “klang und klingt noch” (60), that is, in and around the year 1860. I would suggest that the resonance, or potential resonance, of Schiller’s ideal at this time is the primary reason why Andersen seized the opportunity to contribute to the Schiller-Album and why he chose “Das Lied von der Glocke,” as it were, as a palimpsest. It is also the reason why he introduced the “dansk Element” which he mentions in the commentary to the last edition of the tales and stories published during his lifetime. As his autobiography graphically demonstrates, the Three Years’ War between Denmark and Prussia (1848-1851) had shaken Andersen deeply and remained all too vivid in his mind. Moreover, recent steps taken both sides of the uncertain border, which led among other things to a violent attack on the Danish administration in the Prussian Chamber in 1860, created a climate that boded ill for the future. By shifting attention from Schiller’s Deutschtum to his Weltbürgertum – no-one thinks of the old bell’s homeland – and by juxtaposing him to a Dane of similar conviction, accomplishment, and national prominence, Andersen pleas to Germans as well as his countrymen for tolerance in the spirit of their common cultural values. His ironic treatment of Schiller’s experience at the Karlsschule suggests his general attitude toward armed conflict. His allusion to Wilhelm Tell and Die Jungfrau von Orleans, which he doubtless understood in the current sense of national liberation, represents an idealized call for recognition of the Danish cause, which he felt was just.
During the hostilities with Prussia Andersen was severely criticized by Danes for his refusal to join in the nationalist hatemongering rampant at the time. Since he feared unpopularity more than anything else, writing “Die alte Kirchenglocke” thus reflects self-conquest as much as self-expression. In point of fact he composed a series of “patriotic” poems, one of which, “Danmark, mit Fædreland,” has been called the most beautiful song ever written for Denmark. However, there was no hate in them, or in him, only pride in things Danish, encouragement to fight the good fight and then to exercise mercy, and an undercurrent of deep regret. He once wrote to a young friend, if “I am not fierily Danish enough for you . . . it is probably because I am so ‘just” towards all, but might not this ‘justice” be the very flower of what I call genuinely Danish. . . In the letter published in the Literary Gazette, which, as mentioned earlier, was intended to sway English public opinion in favor of the Danes, Andersen concludes with the following, rhetorically questionable words:
“For the nationalities, their rights; for honest and good men, all prosperity! That is and must be Europe’s watchword, and with it I look trustingly forward. The Germans are an honest, truth-loving people; they will come to see more clearly into our situation, and their enmity will and must be changed into esteem and friendship; may that thought soon come! May God make his countenance to shine over the countries!”
As early as 1845 and then from the fifties on into the seventies he also wrote a substantial number of tales that depict the artistic and scientific contributions to the world made by Danes such as Thorvaldsen and Ørsted as well as by figures from other countries.
Whatever the recorded and unrecorded responses to Andersen’s tale may have been, the Schiller who appears in it was obviously unable to prevail over the Schiller who dominated the minds of Germans (and Danes?) during the mid-to-late nineteenth century, these “Schillers” understood, of course, as symbols of, in important respects, varying cultural assumptions. In 1864 Prussian expansionism consorted for the moment with Austrian conservatism to take advantage of Danish overconfidence and inflexibility and to separate Schleswig and Holstein from Denmark, thereby reducing the country in size and political significance to a shadow of its former self. However, the Schiller in Andersen’s story, who, I would contend, is much closer to the “real” Schiller than his rival, had an undeniable impact on the Dane. “Die alte Kirchenglocke” may well be the only one of Andersen’s works that exhibits an influence in the usual sense of the word. However, I cannot agree with Schmitz that the tale therefore remained a mere “rhetorisches Bekenntnis” and that Schiller was of no significance for Andersen’s writing. All differences of detail and expression notwithstanding, Schiller’s cosmopolitan ideal of humanity and notion of art as the best means of realizing it come to life in Andersen’s thought and writing. In the older poet’s works, not least of all in “Das Lied von der Glocke,” Andersen found a lodestar and sustenance for his own native cosmopolitanism and view of the formative role of art in cultural (as well as personal) life, as evidenced most obviously in “Die alte Kirchen-glocke,” but also in numerous other works as well as in his public and private life. Surely, one is therefore justified in speaking of an authentic relationship between the two men, a relationship more fundamental than one of a purely literary nature.
* Rowland, Herbert. »Confluence and Crosscurrents: Schiller’s “Das Lied von der Glocke” and Hans Christian Andersen’s “Die alte Kirchenglocke”.« MONATSHEFTE, Volume 88, Number 2 (Summer, 1996). Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.