The REFORMATION, THE RENAISSANCE, AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT

   The use of Latin as a medium of writing changed with the coming of the Lutheran Reformation. In Lutheranism the individual's relationship with God is paramount, and reading sacred scripture is a primary means by which that relationship can be developed. The New Testament was translated into Danish as early as 1524, and into Swedish by 1526. The entire Bible was available in Danish by 1550, and in Swedish by 1541. The Danish Bible translation was also used in Norway, which had become united with Denmark in 1397. Many Lutheran ministers studied abroad and brought intellectual impulses back to Scandinavia. Thus such general European phenomena as the Renaissance and humanism came to play a role in Scandinavia as well, where there was a resurgence in interest in the literature of the Old Norse period as well as a strong interest in providing topographical descriptions, a mapping of Scandinavia in words, so to speak.
   Another watershed in the literary development of Scandinavia is the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), in which Sweden became a European great power and the united Denmark and Norway became more closely connected with the rest of Europe. Such Scandinavian Baroque literary figures as the Dane Thomas Kingo (1634-1703) and the Norwegian Petter Dass (1647-1707) wrote within a general European aesthetic framework of codes and norms. By the time of the great Enlightenment figures Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) and Olof von Dalin (1708-1763), there were established conduits of artistic and literary communication between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. Holberg, for example, traveled widely in Holland, England, France, and Italy.
   Most of the time, the cultural and literary impulses traveled north, rather than from Scandinavia to Europe. French neoclassicism, for example, manifested itself strongly both at the court of King Gustav III of Sweden and generally in Swedish literature at the time. The songs of the Swedish poet Carl Michael Bellman (1740-1795) are simply unthinkable without the influence of French culture in Stockholm. In Copenhagen, on the contrary, neoclassicism can be observed as the butt of Johan Herman Wessel's jokes in the comedy Kierlighed uden Strømper (1772; Love without Stockings).

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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