Paris, Garnier Frères, (ca. 1873-75). Bound in two very nice cont. almost uniform red hcalfs w. gilt geometrical ornamentations to backs and blindstamped (vol. 2 black) ornamentations to boards. All edges gilt. Excellent, clean and well-preserved set w. numerous beautiful illustrations. W. both half-titles and frontispieces.
Two first editions, both containing the first French translations of the present works by Hans Christian Andersen.
With original handwritten and signed presentations in both volumes from the translator, Ernest Grégoire, for Robert Watt.
Robert Watt (1837-94) was a leading figure in the Danish modernist breakthrough (1870-90) and a famous figure in Danish cultural life in the second half of the 19th century. In spite of the age difference, he became closely connected with Hans Christian Andersen, and it was he who accompagnied Andersen to the World Exhibition in Paris in 1867. He was also the one to encourage Andersen to have his fairy tales translated into and published in French, and he is the one who made this translation happen. Thus this particur presentation copy is of great interest.
In his diaries from 1873 and 1874, Andersen fairly frequently writes about the preparation of this translation, about Watt and Gregoire. On the 31st of March (Vol. X, p. 54-55) he writes: "Besøg af Watt der havde faaet Brev fra den franske Journalist Gregoire, der vilde oversætte og lade illustrere mine Eventyr, med Undtagelse af dem Soldi havde udgivet..." ["Visit by Watt who had received a letter from the French journalist Gregoire, who wanted to translate my fairy tales and have them illustrated, except for the ones that Soldi had published..." (own translation) ]. On several occations Andersen worries about the rights to the French translations, and he is not happy with the fact that Gregoire apparently claims them. On the 13th of April (Vol. X, p.64) he writes: "-Hele Dagen Hoste og mit Nerveuse, Middag hos Eduard Collin, der skrev for mig en Skrivelse til Gregoire, efter min Opfattelse, og ikke som Watt havde givet mig til Underskrift. Strax paa Aftenen kom Watt og blev ilde stemt ved at jeg ikke vilde underskrive hans Skrivelse, sagde at MIN havde ikke Betydning for Loven i Paris, jeg forstod ikke hele hans Forklaring og da han vedblev kom jeg i saadan nerveus Stemning at jeg brast i Graad og sank om paa Sophaen." [- The entire day cough and my nerves, dinner at Eduard Collin, who wrote for me a letter for Gregoire, according to my conception, and not like Watt had given me to sign. As soon as evening fell Watt came and became ill disposed because of me not wanting to sign his letter, said that MINE had no significance according to the law in Paris, I did not understand all of his explanation and when he kept on going I became so nervous that I broke down crying and collapsed on the couch." (own translation) ].
Robert Watt later (1886) became the director of the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, where he, among many other things, installed the famous rollar coaster.