Holberg, Ludvig

   A poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist, Holberg is considered Scandinavia's foremost Enlightenment figure. He was born into a family mostly of farmers and merchants, but his father had worked his way up from a private to a liuetenant colonel in the Dano-Norwegian army. Well educated at the Bergen Cathedral School and the University of Copenhagen, Holberg never lost touch with practical life during a lifetime as an academic and a writer. He consistently valued useful activity above learning for the sake of learning and the vernacular above Latin; his attitudes are largely those of a middle class that was about to eclipse the old aristocracy.
   After years of study and travel and having laid the groundwork for a brilliant academic career, including books on European history as well as natural and international law, Holberg started writing satirical poetry shortly before 1720. A mock-heroic epic in four books, Peder Paars, was published in 1719-1720 and gave him quite a reputation as a creative writer. It describes the journey of one Peder Paars from the city of Kallundborg to Aars for the purpose of visiting his fiancee, but owing to the enmity of some pseudo-classical gods, he is driven off course and shipwrecked on an island named Anholt. The island of Anholt is a microcosm of Denmark, and Holberg portrays life there so as to exhibit a long catalogue of human foibles.
   Holberg was soon given additional opportunities to hold human failings up to ridicule. In the fall of 1722 a Danish-language theater was established in Copenhagen, and the second play performed there was Holberg's comedy Den Politiske Kandestøber (tr. The Political Tinker, 1915), which satirized common people who want to get involved in political life. Other comedies have touches of the tragic. Jeppe paa Bierget (1722; tr. Jeppe of the Hill, 1915), for example, presents the miserable life of a drunken peasant. Erasmus Montanus (1731, tr. 1915), a satire on learning for its own sake, also shows how easily truth may be compromised.
   Comedies by Plautus and Moliere were among Holberg's readings and served as examples for him, but he is far more than simply an imitator. His characters, although mostly types, are anchored in a realistically portrayed social and economic environment, and Holberg has a gift for depicting the absurd. His output was truly phenomenal, for by the time the theater closed in 1727 because Denmark's new king, the pietistic Christian IVV was opposed to it, Holberg had written 26 comedies. Six more were written after the theater was reopened in 1748. Many of his comedies are still performed regularly in Scandinavia.
   By the time the theater closed, however, Holberg had largely exhausted his poetic inspiration and returned to scholarship. Many volumes of historical, topographical, and biographical studies ensued, but Holberg also wrote a long utopian novel in Latin, Nicolai Klimii Iter Subterraneum (1741; tr. Journey to the World Underground, 1742), as well as seven volumes of essays and three Latin autobiographies.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Holberg, Ludvig, Friherre Holberg — ▪ Scandinavian author born December 3, 1684, Bergen, Norway died January 28, 1754, Copenhagen, Denmark  the outstanding Scandinavian literary figure of the Enlightenment period, claimed by both Norway and Denmark as one of the founders of their… …   Universalium

  • Holberg, Ludvig, Baron — born Dec. 3, 1684, Bergen, Nor. died Jan. 28, 1754, Copenhagen, Den. Norwegian Danish man of letters. Educated in Denmark and England, he traveled in various European countries before becoming a professor at the University of Copenhagen; while… …   Universalium

  • Holberg, Ludvig, barón de — ► (1684 1754) Escritor danés de origen noruego, llamado el Plauto de Dinamarca. Obras: El calderero político y El viaje subterráneo de Nicolás Klim, entre otras …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Holberg, Ludvig, barón — (3 dic. 1684, Bergen, Noruega–28 ene. 1754, Copenhague, Dinamarca). Literato escandinavo; tanto Noruega como Dinamarca lo reclaman como el fundador de sus respectivas literaturas nacionales. Educado en Dinamarca e Inglaterra, viajó por varios… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ludvig Holberg — Ludvig Baron Holberg (* 3. Dezemberjul./ 13. Dezember 1684greg. in Bergen, Norwegen[1]; † 28. Januar 1754 in …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ludvig Holberg — Ludvig Holberg, Baron of Holberg (December 3, 1684 – January 28, 1754) was a writer, essayist, philosopher, historian and playwright born in Bergen, Norway during the time of the Dano Norwegian double monarchy, and spent most of his adult life in …   Wikipedia

  • Holberg — Ludvig Holberg Ludvig Baron Holberg (* 3. Dezemberjul./ 13. Dezember 1684greg. in Bergen, Norwegen[1]; † 28. Januar 1754 in Kope …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ludvig Holberg — Ludvig Holberg. Ludvig Holberg, baron de Holberg (3 de diciembre de 1684, Bergen, Noruega, 28 de enero de 1754, Copenhague) dramaturgo, historiador y ensayista danés de la Ilustración, considerado padre de la literatura danesa y noruega …   Wikipedia Español

  • Holberg — Holberg, Ludvig, barón de …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ludvig — Ludwig ist ein männlicher Vorname und ein Familienname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung des Namens 2 Namenstage 3 Bekannte Namensträger 3.1 Ludwig als Vorname 3.2 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.