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Nordic FAQ - 6 of 7 - NORWAY
Section - 6.5 Norwegian literature

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   The earliest Norwegian literature, the Poetic Edda, was composed in
   Norway but written down on Iceland in the early middle ages by the
   descendendants of Norwegian settlers of Iceland. A more ornate and
   technically complicated poetry was composed by court poets, or skalds,
   mainly in praise of the battle exploits of various chieftains.
   
   From the 16th through the 18th century, Norwegian literature was
   written in Danish, mostly by priests and civil servants educated in
   Denmark. The two principal literary figures were Petter Dass in the
   17th century and Ludvig, Baron Holberg in the 18th. Dass has given a
   marvelously vivid picture of life in the north of Norway in his
   topographical poem, The Trumpet of Nordland (1739; Eng. trans., 1954);
   Holberg was the first professional author in Dano-Norwegian
   literature. A highly learned person, he wrote in a variety of genres;
   his comedies in particular have remained popular.
   
   Norways newly won independence from Denmark in 1814 inspired authors
   to regard themselves as the creators of a national literature and
   national identity. Henrik Arnold Wergeland, considered by some the
   Norwegian national poet, enthralled his countrymen with e.g his
   monumental cosmological poem, Skabelsen, mennesket, og messias
   (Creation, Man, and Messiah, 1830). The conservative poet and critic
   Johan Sebastian Cammermeyer Welhaven, however, reproached Wergeland
   for his refusal to recognize the existence of a shared Dano-Norwegian
   cultural heritage. But he little effect on either Wergeland or oesther
   contemporaries, such as Peter Christen Asbørnsen and Jørgen
   Engebretsen Møe, who were enthusiastically rediscovering Norway's
   great past. Asbjørnsen and Møe published their celebrated Norske
   folkeeventyr (Norwegian Folk Tales) in 1842-44. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson,
   a great Norwegian patriot, also used folklore in his novels describing
   peasant life.
   
   The dramatist Henrik Ibsen is Norway's most famous literary figure;
   some of his plays are considered to rank with the works of
   Shakespeare. In the 20th century, three Norwegian novelists have won
   Nobel Prizes: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in 1903, Knut Hamsun, most famous
   for Growth of the Soil (1917; English translation 1920), and Sigrid
   Undset, author of the epic novel Kristin Lavransdåtter (1920-22;
   English translation 1923-27). Other important writers of this century
   include the novelist John Bøjer, the poet Olaf Bull, novelist Olav
   Duun, playwright and novelist Nordahl Grieg, and novelist Terje
   Vesaas. More recent authors of note are short-story writer Terje
   Stigen, novelist Jens Bjørnboe, poet Stein Mehren, the feminist writer
   Bjørg Vik, and Jostein Gaarder, a former school teacher whose novel on
   the history of western philosophy (Sophie's World, 1991) has had
   tremendous success all over the world.
   
   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/faq65.html ]

   
   



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