Andersen, Benny

(1929-)
   A Danish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright, Andersen had his literary debut with the poetry collection Den musikalske al (1960; The Musical Eel), which was followed by Kamera med køkkenadgang (1962; Camera with Kitchen Privileges) and Den indre bowlerhat (1964; The Inner Bowler Hat). With humor and self-irony, the poems in these collections discuss such fundamental issues of life as the relationship between nature and culture and between the individual and the community, and Andersen's work was perceived as meaningful by a large audience. Other collections with similar concerns are Portrætgalleriet (1966; The Portrait Gallery) and Det sidste øh og andre digte (1969; The Last Um and Other Poems).
   Some of Andersen's later poetry shows a greater degree of social and political engagement. Personlige papirer (1974; Personal Papers) and Himmelspræt eller kunsten at komme til verden (1979; Blanket-Toss, or the Art of Being Born) express ethical views that show the influence of Søren Kierkegaard's thought. The commitments that members of a family have to one another are seen as a workable model for both the national and the world community. Andersen's most recent volumes of poetry concern the aging process and human mortality. The poems in Denne kommen og gaen (1993; This Coming and Going) and Sjælen marineret (2001; The Marinated Soul) are life affirming and show that Andersen has maintained his mental and emotional flexibility.
   The most important of Andersen's several collections of short stories is Puderne (1965; tr. The Pillows, 1983); the stories deal with various forms of maladjustment. Over skulderen: Bla historier (1983; Over the Shoulder: Blue Stories) offers portraits of a variety of characters in personal or social distress. Andersen has also written several plays. The most important is Orfeus i undergrunden (1979; Orpheus in the Underground), in which the author argues against
   Danish membership in the European Common Market (later to become the European Union). His novel Pa broen: Roman i ni episoder (1981; On the Bridge: A Novel in Nine Episodes) describes life in Denmark during World War II.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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