Norway Literature Part III

By | December 17, 2021

Norwegian literature of the century. XVII consists of sermons and psalms, in profane poems in the style of the late Renaissance and Baroque, travel memories, historical works, Latin verses, dissertations. It took on a European color, and shows that the bourgeois culture of Norway was on the way to level with the culture of the other Germanic countries. Only towards the end of the century does a great original poet emerge in Norway, Petter Dass (1647-1707), a shepherd in Nordland, who in his biblical and profane poems, of perfect versification, and especially in the masterpiece Nordlands Trompet, manifests a healthy union of piety and humor, of sentiment of poetically religious nature and of practical wisdom and human experience.

A new period begins with Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754), the “father of Norwegian and Danish literature”. Born in Bergen, a large commercial city that placed him in close relationship with Western Europe, having a passion for travel in his blood, between 1706 and 1716 he traveled repeatedly to Holland, England, Germany, France and Italy. Returning to his homeland, he was appointed professor in Copenhagen, the capital of the “twin kingdoms” of Denmark and Norway, and his plays and his historical and moral philosophy works were written there, which, moreover, have remained the common heritage of the two peoples: for the Norwegians of the century. XVIII the Holberg, as the eldest son of their homeland, had a specifically national value alongside its importance in the aesthetic, scientific and philosophical fields. He himself was a loyal citizen of the Danish-Norwegian state and was in no way inclined to Norwegian separatism; however he pointed out the difference of. character of the two peoples with clarity and with a good-natured criticism that is exercised on both of them. Holberg’s Norwegian successors went much further in affirming national autonomy, and first of all asked for a Norwegian university, which, however, was not obtained until 1811. As early as 1760, however, a “Society” had been founded in Trondheim. Norwegian science “. One of its promoters was the historian Gerhard Schøning (1722-1780), whose enthusiastic patriotism had an inspirational effect on the Norwegian spiritual life. For Norway 2008, please check

Between 1750 and 1770 the Norwegian lyric was resurrected with Peter Christopher Stenerson (1723-1776) and especially with Christian Braumann Tullin (1728-1765), who with his poem Maidagen, which Lessing appreciated, created the typical landscape of intact Norwegian nature. Between 1770 and 1790 a period of literary and especially lyrical flowering followed. Most of the poets of this time had belonged as students to the “Norwegian Society” founded in Copenhagen in 1772, in which the humanistic spirit, elegantly epigrammatic in the verses and critical articles, of the Voltaire Claus Fasting (1746-1791) dominated by the limpid ingenuity, in the words and writings of Johan Herman Wessel (1742-1785), a brilliant type of bohemian, whose parodic tragedy Kierlighed uden Strømper (Love without socks), revolted against imitations of French tragedy and Italian melodrama, has remained a permanent satire of every insincere art and still maintains its comic efficacy intact. In the poetic collections published by the Norwegian Society, however, other spirits dominate: a sentimental patriotism, a pre-romantic aspiration to the woods and solitudes of Norwegian nature, an enthusiastic re-enactment of the times of the ancient kings of the saga. The greatest personality among the poets of the Norwegian Society is Johan Nordahl Brun (1745-1816), who later became bishop, but also Jens Zetlitz, the brothers Peter and Claus Frimann and others have deepened and enriched the image of their homeland. Out of that circle remained the poet Edvard Storm (1749-1794).

Near the end of the century. XVIII national and democratic interests made purely aesthetic inspiration almost disappear among most Norwegian poets, so that in Norway the first product of romanticism is not a poetic production, but a political action: the liberal constitution and the independence of country, sworn on May 17, 1814 in an assembly in which many former members of the Norwegian Society took part.

In the first years after 1814, the defense of freedom against the king of Sweden and Norway occupies the best forces of the country to such an extent that literary activity becomes scarce. The short stories by Mauritz Hansen and the melodrama Fjeldeventyret by Henrik Anker Bjerregaard are the most important productions of the decade 1820-1830. Around 1830, however, the maximum splendor of Norwegian literature begins, of which the young precursor is Henrik Wergeland (1808-1845), the most original of the Norwegian poets, who explained an action as a politician, historian, oratote and educator, but he was above all a poet, and of such lyrical talent that, if he had written in a more widespread language, he would have risen to world fame. His impressive work of universalistic content, Skabelsen, Mennesket og Messias (Creation, man and the Messiah, 1830), is rich in imagination and thought, but his best creations are the short and very numerous lyrics and poetic cycles Jan van Huysums Blomsterstykke, Den engelske Lods, Jeden and Jødinden. The apogee of his production is marked by the poems that he composed for the people on their deathbed for a whole year, remaining until the end a champion of life, freedom, poetry.

Norway Literature Part III