Branner, Hans Christian


Branner, Hans Christian
(1903-1966)
   A Danish novelist, short story writer, and dramatist, Branner was in the forefront of Danish literary life during the decades immediately after World War II. He had his debut with the novel Legetøj (1936; Toys), which is marked by the psychological realism of the interwar period. The new manager at a toy factory wants conformity and power, so he sows seeds of discord among the workers, who as a result lose their sense of solidarity with each other; this change in the microcosm of a small factory can be seen as a reference to social and political developments in Germany.
   Barnet leger ved Stranden (1937; The Child Playing on the Beach) is influenced by psychoanalysis, as the narrator-protagonist searches his childhood for the causes of his present misery. Freudianism was also a significant influence on Drømmen om en Kvinde (1941; The Dream of a Woman), in which literary modernism is in evidence through interior monologue and stream-of-consciousness narration. The novel Historien om Børge (1942; tr. The Story of Børge, 1973) tells about an orphaned boy whose foster parents do not comprehend his sensitivity and imagination.
   Branner's existential seriousness is also present in his short stories in the collections Om lidt er vi borte (1939; Soon We Are Gone) and To Minutters Stilhed (1944; tr. Two Minutes ofSilence, 1966), as is his focus on the significance of childhood experiences. The motif of the authoritarian personality, first presented in Legetøj, returns in Rytteren (1949; tr. The Riding Master, 1951), in which Branner allows freedom and goodness to triumph over the urge to control others. The action in the novel Ingen kender natten (1955; tr. No One Knows the Night, 1958) takes place one night during Germany's occupation of Denmark in World War II and contains elements of Christian allegory. Myth and allegory are also significant features of the short stories in Vandring langs floden (1956; A Walk along the River).
   Branner's stage dramas are rather traditional, but his radio plays are groundbreaking. His stage drama Søskende (1952; tr. The Judge, 1955) is inspired by psychoanalysis and concerns the relationship between three siblings and the consequences of having been raised by a controlling father. Thermopylæ (1958; tr. 1973) is an expression of humanist concerns.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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