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Nordic FAQ - 3 of 7 - DENMARK
Section - 3.5 Danish literature

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   Skaldic poetry in the Danish language no doubt existed already in
   before the Viking age, but none of it was written down except for some
   Latinized versions later rendered by Saxo Grammaticus. Saxo's Gesta
   Danorum (History of the Danes), which recounts the history of Denmark
   up to 1186 and includes Danish versions (in a somewhat Christianized
   form) the Scandinavian myths and sagas, including the earliest version
   of the Hamlet story, is the first major Danish contribution to world
   literature. In the middle ages also a large number of religious poetry
   in Latin was written, as well as a great variety of folk ballads in
   Danish, which are among the more significant achievements of medieval
   Danish literature. German influence remained strong, however, up until
   the Reformation, and only in the 1600's did Danish poets really start
   writing in their own language.
   
   In the early 18th century the French Enlightenment and English
   rationalism started to influence Danish literary circles, and satires
   became fashionable. As a result, the Danish drama was created by
   Ludvig Holberg (born in Norway), whose joyous and witty comedies had
   an enormous impact on all Scandinavian playwrights of the following
   generations. Holberg may perhaps be called the father of modern Danish
   literature.
   
   In the latter half of 18th century, Johannes Ewald, a writer of lyric
   poetry and heroic tragedies written in verse, was the foremost of
   Danish authors. In the early 19th century Adam Oehlenschlager
   introduced Romanticism in Denmark, while Steen Steensen Blicher
   [portrait on the left] represented bleak, Danish realism. Among their
   contemporaries were the two perhaps most famous figures of Danish
   literature throughout the ages: the fairy tale writer Hans Christian
   Andersen (1805-75) [portrait on the right] and the philosopher Søren
   Kierkegaard (1813-55) whose influence was fully felt only with
   20th-century existentialism. In the 1870's, romanticism was replaced
   by naturalism, the most ardent advocate of which was the famous
   literary critic Georg Brandes. He had much influence on e.g the
   novelist Jens Peter Jacobsen, the poet Holger Drachmann, and the Nobel
   Prize winners of 1917, Henrik Pontoppidan and Karl Gjellerup.
   
   Major early 20th-century figures Danish literature were the
   proletarian novelist Martin Andersen Nexø (1869 - 1954) and the poet
   and novelist Johannes V. Jensen (who won a Nobel Prize in 1944). The
   most famous of all modern Danish writers was Karen Blixen (pseudonym
   Isak Dinesen), who wrote her gothic tales and African memoirs in
   English. In the 1940s and 1950s, H.C. Branner wrote brilliant short
   stories; the poet Thorkild Bjørnvig and the novelist Klaus Rifbjerg
   won fame in the following decades. Among the young generation e.g.
   Peter Høeg has recently won international fame with his best-seller
   Smilla's Sense of Snow.
   
   For electronic versions of some of the works of Nordic literature, see
   the collection of Project Runeberg:
     * Icelandic Literature
     * Literature from the Viking Age
     * Medieval Nordic Literature
     * Danish Literature
     * Norwegian Literature
     * Literature of Finland
     * Literature from the Age of Liberty [ in Sweden and Finland
       (1719-1772) ]
       

[ the sections above are available at the www-page
  http://www.lysator.liu.se/nordic/scn/faq353.html ]

   
   



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