Hansen, Thorkild

(1927-1989)
   A Danish novelist, travel writer, essayist, and journalist, Hansen produced early work that was a harbinger of the documentary movement in Scandinavian literature in the 1960s and later. After publishing a book of literary scholarship at the age of 20, Hansen spent five years in Paris, where he studied French literature and philosophy while serving as a correspondent for a Danish newspaper. Returning to Denmark in 1952, he earned a living as a journalist. He also traveled widely in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
   Hansen published several volumes about his travels, later including edited versions of his diaries from his youth and years as a newspaper journalist. His literary breakthrough came with the historical and documentary novel Det lykkelige Arabien: En dansk ekspedtion 1761-67 (1962; tr. Arabia Felix: The Danish Expedition of 17611767, 1964). This novel is both a faithful historical account of an expedition to Yemen that was doomed from the start—five of its six members perished, with only the German Carsten Niebuhr making it back to Denmark—and a statement on the human condition that emphasizes randomness and meaninglessness. While thus influenced by French existentialist thought, Hansen goes a step further and claims that failure and anonymity are necessary preconditions to true understanding and remembrance. Niebuhr is a paradigm case, as he returns from Yemen stripped of whatever arrogance and social ambition might otherwise have clouded his vision throughout his life.
   With a knack for identifying forgotten episodes in the history of Danish national ambition, Hansen next studied the case ofthe Arctic explorer Jens Munk. The result was the novel Jens Munk (1965; tr. and abridged as North West to Hudson Bay: The Life and Times of Jens Munk, 1970). Hansen's character Jens Munk is another case of a man humbled by circumstances. Although he returned from the expedition as only one of three survivors, there were no rewards for him and he died in obscurity.
   Hansen's greatest literary achievement is a trilogy that deals with the Danish slave trade. Set in the 1700s, it describes a common triangular trade route at the time. Ships sailed from Europe to West Africa loaded with weaponry and other goods, then continued to the Americas with a cargo of slaves, and then returned to Europe with a load of sugar. Denmark had a colony in the Caribbean, three islands that comprised the Danish West Indies (since 1917 the U.S. Virgin Islands), where African slaves worked the sugar plantations. The trilogy's first volume, Slavernes kyst (1967; The Coast of the Slaves), describes the capture and treatment of the slaves in Africa. Slavernes skibe (1968; The Ships of the Slaves) describes, with illustrations, the horrendous conditions the slaves had to endure while being transported across the Atlantic. Slavernes øer (1970; The Islands of the Slaves) details their lives on the islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Hansen's work shined a bit of daylight on some embarrassing facts from the past, including Denmark's reluctance to outlaw slavery, and the Enlightenment writer Ludvig Holberg's financial involvement with a company that participated in the slave trade. Hansen was rewarded for his literary achievement with the Nordic Literary Prize in 1971.
   After almost a decade as a public figure and highly respected writer, Hansen published his final novel, Processen mod Hamsun (1978; The Case against Hamsun), in which he described the postwar trial of the great Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun, who had expressed strong Nazi sympathies during World War II. Hansen questioned whether Hamsun had been treated according to principles of justice, and a heated debate ensued, especially in Norway. Some of Hansen's critics believed that he had gone too easy on Norway's Nazi sympathizers, and Hansen's reputation suffered when historical inaccuracies were found in his book. Hansen also published an autobiographical volume entitled Søforhør: Nærbillede af Thorkild Hansen (1982; Maritime Inquest: Close-up of Thorkild Hansen), which, in the form of an extended interview and illustrated with photographs from the author's life, looked like an autobiographical apology.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Thorkild Hansen — (* 9. Januar 1927; † 4. Februar 1989) war ein dänischer Schriftsteller, der für eine Romantrilogie über den dänischen Sklavenhandel 1971 den Literaturpreis des Nordischen Rates erhielt und vor allem durch sein 1979 erschienenes dreibändiges Werk… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thorkild Bjørnvig — Thorkild Strange Bjørnvig (* 2. Februar 1918 in Aarhus; † 5. März 2004 in Aarhus) war ein dänischer Lyriker, Schriftsteller und Übersetzer deutscher Lyrik. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben und Werk 2 Veröffentlichungen 2.1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hansen (Familienname) — Hansen ist ein Familienname. Herkunft und Bedeutung Der Name „Hansen“ ist ein patronymisch gebildeter Familienname mit der Bedeutung „Sohn des Hans“. Verbreitung Der Name ist vor allem im deutschen, dänischen und norwegischen Sprachraum… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thorkild Hansen — (born January 9, 1927; died February 4, 1989) was a Danish novelist known for his Slave Trilogy. He also did works concerning Knut Hamsun and travel writing. In 1971 he won the Nordic Council s Literature Prize. [… …   Wikipedia

  • Thorkild Hansen — (Hellerup, 9 de enero de 1927 4 de febrero de 1989) fue un escritor danés galardonado en 1971 con el Premio de Literatura del Consejo Nórdico. Su obra más conocida es su Trilogía eslava. También escribió sobre Knut Hamsun.[1] Obras seleccionadas… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Thorkild Hansen — (né à Copenhague, le 9 janvier 1927 – mort au large d Antigua, le 4 février 1989) était un romancier danois. Il est l auteur de critiques, notamment sur Knut Hamsun, de livres de voyage (La mort en Arabie Une expédition danoise 1761 1767) et,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Thorkild Hansen — (født 9. januar 1927). Dansk forfatter, hvis hovedværker er romanen Det lykkelige Arabien (1962) og romantrilogien om den danske slavehandel: Slavernes kyst (1967), Slavernes skibe (1968) og Slavernes øer (1970) …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Hansen — Hạnsen,   1) [hænsn], Alvin Harvey, amerikanischer Volkswirtschaftler dänischer Herkunft, * Viborg (S. D.) 23. 8. 1887, ✝ Alexandria (Virginia) 6. 6. 1975; 1929 37 Professor an der Universität von Minnesota, 1937 60 an der Harvard University;… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Martin A. Hansen — (* 20. August 1909 in Strøby; † 27. Juni 1955 in Kopenhagen) war ein dänischer Schriftsteller. Er verfasste Romane, Reisebeschreibungen und Essays. Sein bekanntestes und meist besprochenes[1] Werk ist der 1950 erschienene Roman Løgneren, der auch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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