An Essay Toward a History of Shakespeare in Norway

Martin Brown Ruud
㭦An Essay Toward a History of Shakespeare in Norway

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Title: An Essay Toward a History of Shakespeare in Norway
Author: Martin Brown Ruud
Release Date: August 2, 2005 [EBook #16416]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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The University of Chicago
A Dissertation
Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Literature in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Germanics and English by

Reprint from Scandinavian Studies and Notes Urbana, Illinois 1917

The Collegiate Press George Banta Publishing Company Menasha, Wisconsin
* * * * *
I have attempted in this study to trace the history of Shakespearean translations, Shakespearean criticism, and the performances of Shakespeare's plays in Norway. I have not attempted to investigate Shakespeare's influence on Norwegian literature. To do so would not, perhaps, be entirely fruitless, but it would constitute a different kind of work.
The investigation was made possible by a fellowship from the University of Chicago and a scholarship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation, and I am glad to express my gratitude to these bodies for the opportunities given to me of study in the Scandinavian countries. I am indebted for special help and encouragement to Dr. C.N. Gould and Professor J.M. Manly, of the University of Chicago, and to the authorities of the University library in Kristiania for their unfailing courtesy. To my wife, who has worked with me throughout, my obligations are greater than I can express.
It is my plan to follow this monograph with a second on the history of Shakespeare in Denmark.
Minneapolis, Minnesota. September, 1916.
Shakespeare Translations In Norway
In the years following 1750, there was gathered in the city of Trondhjem a remarkable group of men: Nils Krog Bredal, composer of the first Danish opera, John Gunnerus, theologian and biologist, Gerhart Sch?ning, rector of the Cathedral School and author of an elaborate history of the fatherland, and Peter Suhm, whose 14,047 pages on the history of Denmark testify to a learning, an industry, and a generous devotion to scholarship which few have rivalled. Bredal was mayor (Borgermester), Gunnerus was bishop, Sch?ning was rector, and Suhm was for the moment merely the husband of a rich and unsympathetic wife. But they were united in their interest in serious studies, and in 1760, the last three--somewhat before Bredal's arrival--founded "Videnskabsselkabet i Trondhjem." A few years later the society received its charter as "Det Kongelige Videnskabsselskab."
A little provincial scientific body! Of what moment is it? But in those days it was of moment. Norway was then and long afterwards the political and intellectual dependency of Denmark. For three hundred years she had been governed more or less effectively from Copenhagen, and for two hundred years Danish had supplanted Norwegian as the language of church and state, of trade, and of higher social intercourse. The country had no university; Norwegians were compelled to go to Copenhagen for their degrees and there loaf about in the anterooms of ministers waiting for preferment. Videnskabsselskabet was the first tangible evidence of awakened national life, and we are not surprised to find that it was in this circle that the demand for a separate Norwegian university was first authoritatively presented. Again, a little group of periodicals sprang up in which were discussed, learnedly and pedantically, to be sure, but with keen intelligence, the questions that were interesting the great world outside. It is dreary business ploughing through these solemn, badly printed octavos and quartos. Of a sudden, however, one comes upon the first, and for thirty-six years the only Norwegian translation of Shakespeare.
We find it in Trondhjems Allehaande for October 23, 1782--the third and last volume. The translator has hit upon Antony's funeral oration and introduces it with a short note:[1] "The following is taken from the famous English play Julius Caesar and may be regarded as a masterpiece. When Julius Caesar was killed, Antonius secured permission from Brutus and the other conspirators to speak at his funeral. The people, whose minds were full of the prosperity to come, were satisfied with Caesar's murder and regarded the murderers as benefactors. Antonius spoke so as to turn their minds from rejoicing to regret at a great man's untimely death and so as to justify himself and win the hearts of the populace. And in what a masterly way Antonius won them!
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