Essays on Scandinavian Literature

Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen

Essays on Scandinavian Literature, by Hjalmar

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Title: Essays on Scandinavian Literature
Author: Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen

Release Date: November 23, 2006 [eBook #19908]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
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ESSAYS ON SCANDINAVIAN LITERATURE
by
HJALMAR HJORTH BOYESEN

* * * * *

BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
Goethe and Schiller. Their Lives and Works; with a commentary on "Faust." Essays on German Literature. Essays on Scandinavian Literature. A Commentary on the Writings of Henrik Ibsen. Literary and Social Silhouettes. The Story of Norway. Gunnar. Tales from Two Hemispheres. A Norseman's Pilgrimage. Falconberg. A Novel. Queen Titania. Ilka on the Hill-top, and Other Tales. A Daughter of the Philistines. The Light of Her Countenance. Vagabond Tales. The Mammon of Unrighteousness. The Golden Calf. Social Strugglers. Idyls of Norway, and Other Poems.
THE NORSELAND SERIES (JUVENILE).
The Modern Vikings: Stories of Life and Sport in the Northland. Against Heavy Odds, and A Fearless Trio. Boyhood in Norway. Norseland Tales.

* * * * *

ESSAYS ON SCANDINAVIAN LITERATURE
by
HJALMAR HJORTH BOYESEN
Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures in Columbia College

London David Nutt, 270, Strand 1895.
Copyright, 1895, by Charles Scribner's Sons for the United States of America Printed by the Trow Directory, Printing and Bookbinding Company New York, U. S. A.

PREFACE
Some twenty years ago the ambition seized me to write a History of Scandinavian Literature. I scarcely realized then what an enormous amount of reading would be required to equip me for this task. My studies naturally led me much beyond the scope of my original intention. There was a fascination in the work which lured me perpetually on, and made me explore with a constantly increasing zest the great literary personalities of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Thus my chapter on Henrik Ibsen grew into a book of three hundred and seventeen pages, which was published a year ago, and must be regarded as supplementary to the present volume. The chapter on Bj?rnstjerne Bj?rnson was in danger of expanding to similar proportions, and only the most heroic condensation saved it from challenging criticism as an independent work. As regards Norway and Denmark, I have endeavored to select all the weightiest and most representative names. The Swedish authors Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Mrs. Edgren, and August Strindberg, and the Dane Oehlenschlaeger, necessity has compelled me to reserve for a future volume.
COLUMBIA COLLEGE, NEW YORK,
February, 1895.

CONTENTS
PAGE
BJ?RNSTJERNE BJ?RNSON, 3
ALEXANDER KIELLAND, 107
JONAS LIE, 121
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, 155
CONTEMPORARY DANISH LITERATURE, 181
GEORG BRANDES, 199
ESAIAS TEGNR, 219

BJ?RNSTJERNE BJ?RNSON
I
Bj?rnstjerne Bj?rnson is the first Norwegian poet who can in any sense be called national. The national genius, with its limitations as well as its virtues, has found its living embodiment in him. Whenever he opens his mouth it is as if the nation itself were speaking. If he writes a little song, hardly a year elapses before its phrases have passed into the common speech of the people; composers compete for the honor of interpreting it in simple, Norse-sounding melodies, which gradually work their way from the drawing-room to the kitchen, the street, and thence out over the wide fields and highlands of Norway. His tales, romances, and dramas express collectively the supreme result of the nation's experience, so that no one to-day can view Norwegian life or Norwegian history except through their medium. The bitterest opponent of the poet (for like every strong personality he has many enemies) is thus no less his debtor than his warmest admirer. His speech has stamped itself upon the very language and given it a new ring, a deeper resonance. His thought fills the air, and has become the unconscious property of all who have grown to manhood and womanhood since the day when his titanic form first loomed up on the horizon of the North. It is not only as their first and greatest poet that the Norsemen love and hate him, but also as a civilizer in the widest sense. But like Kadmus, in Greek myth, he has not only brought with him letters, but also the dragon-teeth of strife, which it is to be hoped will not sprout forth in armed men.
A man's ancestry and environment, no doubt, account in a superficial manner for his appearance and mental characteristics. Having the man, we are able to trace the germs of his being in the past of his race and his country; but, with all our science we have not yet acquired the ingenuity to predict the man--to deduce him a priori from the tangle of determining
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