Kirk, Hans


Kirk, Hans
(1898-1962)
   A Danish journalist, critic, and novelist, Kirk took a law degree in 1922 and started his literary career as a journalist and critic in radical journals as well as the communist newspaper Arbejderbladet (The Workers' Paper). After publishing a number of short stories, he had his literary breakthrough with the book Fiskerne (1928; tr. The Fishermen, 1999), a collective novel set in Jutland. Influenced by both Marxism and Freudianism, Kirk tells the story of a group of fishermen and their families who relocate from a harsh coastal area to Limfjorden, a relatively sheltered district. Devout Christians of the Danish Inner Mission type, the parental generation watches as their children adopt less restrictive moral views that seem more appropriate to them in their less challenging surroundings. Kirk's talent for storytelling is also on display in two novels that discuss the process of industrialization in rural Denmark, Daglejerne (1936; tr. The Day Laborers, 2001) and De ny Tider (1939; tr. The New Times, 2001), in which small farmers become factory workers who experience life under capitalism but are largely unable to share Kirk's own Marxist convictions.
   In the aftermath of World War II Kirk was disappointed that the defeat of Nazism did not result in much radical social change in Denmark. The novels Vredens søn (1950; The Son of Wrath) and Slaven (1948; tr. The Slave, 2000) are allegorical historical accounts in which social criticism trumps traditional artistic considerations. A book of memoirs, Skyggespil (1953; Play of Shadows), engagingly tells about Kirk's years growing up as the son of a country doctor who hated injustice and instilled in his son a commitment to social responsibility and human decency.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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