Although Scandinavia is a fairly small region, its literature is amazingly varied and rich. It includes the national literatures of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, as well as some rather amazing regional variations. It stretches over time from the Old Norse sagas to the present day, passing through all major literary currents, including romanticism, realism, naturalism, expressionism, modernism, and postmodernism, not to forget feminism. The themes are the greater and lesser ones that concern us all, from nationalism and war, to the meaning of life, political and economic cooperation and exploitation, and love and marriage. This work was generated by numerous Scandinavian authors who are poorly known, if at all, outside of their respective country or region, but also others who have been translated widely and have entered world literature, such as Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Isak Dinesen, Søren Kierkegaard, and Hans Christian Andersen. This literature consists of poetry and novels, short stories and fairy tales, essays and criticism, indeed, all the genres, and most impressively drama. This is consequently a literature that deserves to be known and studied.
   But that is not so easy, considering that more than half a dozen languages and dialects are involved, and the portion that has been translated, while considerable, does not quite cover the whole field. So it is particularly helpful to have a book like this Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. It is a guide to the literature, in its variety and richness, with several hundred entries on specific authors (some well known, others worthy of being better known) which introduce both the author and the oeuvre. Other entries deal with specific periods and currents, themes and groups, favored topics and prizes. The introduction provides the broad historical background, while the chronology places writers and works in their historical setting. The bibliography, uncommonly important for a literature that is less studied than some, is also unusually complete and comprehensive.
   This volume was written by Jan Sjavik, an associate professor of Scandinavian studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he has been on the faculty since 1978. He has written numerous articles on Scandinavian writers as well as two books. As should be obvious from the contents, he has also regularly reviewed books and written entries on specific authors for other reference works. This book goes considerably further, including the whole range, and could not have been achieved without a long career devoted to the subject. Although his own background is Norwegian, Sjavik is hardly parochial, and his presentation of the variety and richness of the field is amply evident.
   Jon Woronoff Series Editor
   I thank my colleagues at the Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of Washington, for their interest in and support of this project, especially Lotta Gavel Adams, Andy Nestingen, and Marianne Stecher-Hansen. I am also grateful to our department's research assistant, Mia Spangenberg, for her help with the Finnish material.
   Reader's Note
   The entries in the dictionary appear alphabetically according to the order of the 26 letters used in English and not as it is done in the Scandinavian languages. Consequently, a, æ, and a are treated as if they were a; o and ø are treated the same as o, and so forth. When a term has an entry of its own in the dictionary, the term appears in boldface the first time it is mentioned in an entry other than its own.
   Scandinavian-language titles are followed by parentheses that contain the year of publication as well as the title in English translation. The notation tr. before the title in English signifies that the book has been published in English translation with that title. Otherwise the translations of titles are my own. However, some titles in Finnish have been translated with the aid of George Schoolfield, ed., A History of Finland's Literature, and Virpi Zuck, ed., Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature, as well as with the assistance of my colleague Andrew K. Nestingen.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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