- Scandinavian literary critics have a long history of acting as intermediaries between producers and consumers of literary texts. New works are given a great deal of attention in the press, particularly in the national newspapers. Scandinavian literary journals regularly publish both longer essays and brief reviews. The beginnings of Scandinavian literary criticism may be found in antiquarian efforts during the Renaissance and the Reformation, when manuscripts of Old Norse texts were collected and Snorri Sturluson's historical work Heimskringla was translated into Danish. Later, both Ludvig Holberg and Olof von Dalin discussed literature in their essays, which in Dalin's case were published in his journal Then Swan-ska Argus (1732-1734; The Swedish Argus). Various literary societies were also formed, the most important of which was the Swedish Academy, which today selects the recipients of the Nobel Prize in literature.As neoclassicism gave way to preromanticism and then romanticism, the critic Johan Henric Kellgren published reviews in the newspaper Stockholms Posten (The Stockholm Post). The Norwegian-born philosopher Henrik Steffens (1773-1845) was very influential in Denmark during the romantic period, especially through a series of lectures on the German romantics held in Copenhagen and published as Indledning til philosophiske Forelæsninger (1803; Introduction to Philosophical Lectures). Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom was romanticism's major spokesperson in Sweden, publishing in the important journal Phosphorus, while in Finland Johan Ludvig Runeberg was a major exponent of national romanticism through his work as a newspaper critic. The Dane Johan Ludvig Heiberg wrote a large number of literary essays, many of which were published in his journal Københavns flyvende Post (1827-1828, 1830, 1834-1837; The Copenhagen Flying Mail). Heiberg was influenced by Hegel, and even more so was the Norwegian philosopher and critic Marcus Jacob Monrad (1816-1897), who harmonized romantic idealism and early realism—the result was referred to as poetic realism—and was a prolific contributor to both newspapers and cultural journals. The Norwegian language reformer Aasmund Olafsson Vinje wrote on literary topics in his newspaper Dølen (18581870; The Dalesman).Scandinavia's greatest literary critic is Georg Brandes,who in 1871 inaugurated the Modern Breakthrough. In addition to writing numerous books on literary topics, Brandes also published the literary journal Det Nittende Aarhundrede (1874-1877; The Nineteenth Century), the chief forum for his radical critique of literature and culture. His brother Edvard Brandes (1847-1931) was also a critic of note, who published in both newspapers and literary magazines. The 1890s saw Danish criticism written by Johannes Jørgensen and published in his magazine Taarnet (1893-1894; The Tower), while in Norway Nils Kjær (1870-1924) was active as a newspaper critic. In Sweden Oscar Levertin functioned in a similar role.Many of the important 19th-century literary critics were also writers of poetry, fiction, and drama, and this pattern has continued in Scandinavia up to the present. After World War I, for example, both Elmer Diktonius and Hagar Olsson were important Finnish newspaper critics, while Rabbe Enckell was an equally valiant, although less prolific, defender of modernism.The Danes Hans Kirk and Tom Kristensen published criticism in both newspapers and magazines. The Norwegian Sigurd Hoel was Norway's most important critic from the 1920s until his death in 1960. The Dane Klaus Rifbjerg and the Swede Agneta Pleijel have continued the practice of combining newspaper and journal criticism with creative work. In Norway Knut Faldbakken is one of the country's most prolific fiction writers, a literary critic publishing in newspapers, and a contributor to such literary magazines as Vinduet, of which he is a past editor.
Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. Jan Sjavik. 2006.
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