Sønderby, Knud


Sønderby, Knud
(1909-1966)
   A Danish novelist, playwright, and essayist, Sønderby came of age in the period between the two world wars, a time marked by great economic instability. His literary debut, the novel Midt i en Jazztid (1931; In the Middle of a Jazz Age), depicts the self-absorption and lack of cultural direction of Danish youth in the 1920s. The main character, the law student Peter— Sønderby took a law degree in 1935—is caught between two women of very different social backgrounds. Neither relationship endures, and Peter is left to just dream of happiness.
   Sønderby's next novel, To Mennersker mødes (1932; Two People Meet), is a continuation ofhis investigation oflove between members of different social classes. His point is that the liberation of modern men and women may or may not be strong enough to overcome class differences. Class is also at the center of En Kvinde er overflødig (1936; A Woman Is Superfluous), in which the matriarch of an upper-middle-class family attempts to direct the lives of her two grown children. Rather pessimistically, the woman, Mrs. Tang, must die before her children are allowed to develop into autonomous human beings. But Sønderby also appreciates the sincerity of Mrs. Tang's devotion to them; nevertheless, her love is misdirected.
   A stay at Greenland in 1935 resulted in two books. The first one was the novel De kolde Flammer (1940; The Cold Flames), in which a young couple learns to temper their romantic expectations of each other against the backdrop ofGreenland's natural beauty. The second book is a volume of prose narratives, Grønlandsk Sommer (1941; Greenlandic Summer). Sønderby dramatized his novel En Kvinde er overflødig for performance at the Royal Theater in 1942; the drama appeared in English as A Woman Too Many (1955). It was a great success, as was a play based on Aristophanes's Lysistrata, Kvindenerne oprør (1955; The Women's Rebellion), which addressed itself to conditions during the Cold War. Sønderby also wrote several volumes of essays and some one-act plays.
   See also Theater.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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