Norway Modern Literature Part I

By | December 17, 2021

The overabundance of literary production, favored by generous state contributions, the heated political climate and the never dormant question of bilingualism make it difficult to follow in its developments the most recent literature, partly entertaining and ephemeral, but also full of vital ferments.

In 1976 J. Bjørnebo (b. 1920) died, after having completed the powerful trilogy Bestialitetens historie (1960-73, “History of bestiality”); in 1979 S. Evensmo (b. 1912) disappeared, linked up to the last with the ideals of resistance, and J. Borgen (b. 1902), the “great Nestor of literature”; in 1985 the poet E. Orvil (b. 1898); in 1987 T. Nedreaas (b. 1906), acute investigator of the female condition; in 1988 O. Eidem (b. 1913), novelist and playwright; in 1989 IR Hagen (b. 1895), still loved by his audience, and H. Børli (b. 1918), the “wood singer”. The magazine Vinduet (“The window”), founded in 1947 and subsequently completely renewed, still functions as a literary and critical gymnasium, while Profil, organ of Norwegian modernism in the 1960s and later spokesman for the Marxist-Leninist Party, was partly replaced by Bazaar, more open to formal experimentation. For Norway 2010, please check

Of the writers who established themselves in the 1950s, T. Stigen (b. 1922) is still actively present, who with his recent novel, Katedralen (1988, “The Cathedral”), set in post-war Germany, proved his narrative ability also to the outside the traditional framework of his other novels, Norway del Nord; F. Carling (b. 1925), who continues his courageous fight against the handicap that has immobilized him since childhood; and CF Engelstad (b. 1915) who, faithful to his own religious convictions, sets his latest novel, De levendes land (1987, “The land of the living”) in Joan of Arc’s France.

Of the ” boys ” of Profil who, having repudiated modernism as a bourgeois phenomenon, had undertaken in the 1970s to write solely “for the people and about the people” in a style close to socialist realism, we recall D. Solstad (b. 1941) and E. Haavardsholm (b. 1945) who, while remaining faithful to their political beliefs, have in recent years shown less uncompromising security and greater attention to formal values.

Of the first we remember Roman 1987 (“Romanzo 1987”), partly autobiographical, which obtained the coveted prize of the Nordic Council; of the second the metaromanzo Roger, gult (1986, “Roger, mystery”), a picture of the Norwegian youth of the Sixties, attracted by the myth of A. Sandemose, and the successful literary biography Mannen fra Jante. Et portraet af Axel Sandemose (1988, “The man from Jante. Portrait of Axel Sandemose”). From Profil it has instead posted E. Økland (n. 1940), to direct along with K. Fløgstad (n. 1944) Bazar, with the aim of contrasting socialist realism with a ” social modernism ”, equally critical of society, but open to experimentalism and supported by a ” modern ” linguistic awareness.

Writers very different from each other, Økland and Fløgstand are both committed to enhancing the literary possibilities of Norwegian. While the former, after having tried different paths in both prose and opera, establishes himself as a writer for children, the latter launches with Dales Portland (1977) a type of experimental political novel, borrowed in part from Latin American fiction., new to Norway, and then increasingly entrusts his protest to the imagination, to the taste for mystification, parody and linguistic invention in novels such as Fyr og flamme (1979, “Fuoco e fuoco”) and Det 7. klima (1986, “The Seventh Climate”).

Different is the choice of E. Fosnes Hansen (b. 1965) who, after showing narrative skills with the long story Falketårnet (1985, “The tower of the falcon”), enters the European literary tradition, in which he was trained, with the novel Salme ved reisens slutt (1990, “Psalm at the end of the journey”), where the Titanic catastrophe becomes, in the story of the events that led the imaginary protagonists to their last journey, a metaphor for Europe at the beginning of the century, with its hopes, its certainties and its miseries.

Among the successful neo-Norwegian writers we remember E. Hoem (b.1949) who, after a short modernist period, committed himself without ideological forcing, and often with humor, to the defense of small villages of peasants and fishermen threatened in their integrity. and in their culture from the society of well-being brought to Norway by oil, in the collective novel Anna Lena (1971) and in the fresh Kiaerleikens ferjereiser (1974, “Love trips by ferry”). More ambitious and complex is the novel Ave Eva (1987), in which the advent of the oil age, considered a human and national tragedy, is correlated with continuous references to the Miltonian Paradise Lost.

Norway Modern Literature