Hans Christian Anderson Visits A Brothel

If we were to speak of literature in a crowded bar, I would probably turn to you and turn your attention to the steamier side of it. Love, sex, between humans of all types. And thus it is, that when I found this book in a Trotskyist second hand bookstore, it felt like destiny.

Joseph R. Orgel’s Undying Passion: Men, Women, Love, Sex, and the Literary Life is a collection of primary source material about authors of all types and sexual inclinations. In just one volume, you can read about the sex lives and writings of Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald and far more…. How could I resist reading an excerpt for you?

Hans Christian Andersen Visits A Brothel

The Little Tin Soldier

Frightened all his life by sex and too shy to make amatory advances, Hans Christian Anderson tried in many ways to still his sexual urges: “Am unable to sleep,” he wrote in his diary; “sensual longings are still strong within me. Fortune he who is well married.” [1]

In Paris, at sixty-two, he summoned enough courage to visit a brothel, not to have sex but to look at the naked girls: “Having dined, I walked up and down in a state of burning desire, then suddenly went into a human shop. One woman was pasted with powder, the next one was very simple, the third one was a complete lady; I spoke to her, paid her 12 francs, and left without having sinned in deeds, though mainly in my mind. She asked me to come again, told me I was very innocent for a gentleman. I was relieved and happy when I left that house. Many will call me a coward – I wonder if I was so in that case.” [2]

[1] H. C. Andersen, Diaries, Vol. III (1850)

[2] H. C. Andersen, Diaries, Vol. XI. (1850)


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