Norwegian Literature

Norwegian Literature

Norwegian literature, term for literature on the territory of Norway.

Norwegian literature cannot be clearly distinguished from neighboring literatures in all epochs. In the Middle Ages there was an intensive cultural and literary reception relationship with Iceland. During the centuries of Danish sovereignty (1380–1814), the beginnings of an independent Norwegian literature in the common Danish-Norwegian linguistic-cultural unit (“dansk-norsk fælleslitteratur”) merged. An independent Norwegian literature only developed in the wake of the national independence movements of the 19th century.

Middle Ages

Old Norwegian literature and Old Icelandic literature developed Old Norse literature and its main genres: Eddic poetry, Skaldic poetry and saga literature.

Reformation, Baroque, Enlightenment

The political union with Denmark ushered in the cultural decline of Norway. was also accelerated by the Reformation: with the translation of the Bible and the Danish administrative language, the Danish written language displaced Norwegian from the cities in remote rural areas, where it lived on orally in the dialects until the 19th century and then flowed into the written language of the »Landsmål«. Norwegian authors have been integrated into the Danish literature, so that only a few authors have a specifically Norwegian component, e. B. in P. Dass, partly also in the soulful religious poems of Dorothe Engelbretsdatter (* 1634, † 1716). The influence of L. Baron von Holberg, who was born in Bergen, was significant who not only ushered in the early Enlightenment, but also founded a specifically Norwegian special movement within Danish literature. The classicist poets of a newly founded “Norwegian Society” in Copenhagen followed up on this in 1772, thus initiating approaches to Norwegian national literature: J. H. Wessel, Niels Krog Bredal (* 1733, † 1778), J. N. Brun and Claus Fasting (* 1746, † 1791). Influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution, v. a. the younger members of the circle a culturally independent Norway on the basis of the old national peasant culture. The new national feeling, among other things. Caused by interest in Old Norse literature, was largely promoted by the historian Gerard Schøning (* 1722, † 1780) and culminated in the founding of a Norwegian Society of Sciences in Trondheim (1760) and in the establishment of the own university wrested from the Danes (1811) in Christiania (now Oslo).

19th century

The “national rebirth” was also the new beginning of Norwegian literature. The liberal constitution of Eidsvoll (1814) was the yardstick for the cultural tendencies of the new poetry. In a large-scale catch-up movement, the epochs of the Enlightenment, Sensitivity, Romanticism and Biedermeier were filled with a new republican-liberal attitude around 1830 and merged into a peculiar style that defies any epoch, the main representative of which was H. A. Wergeland in the so-called Norwegian cultural dispute against his Danish-minded rival J. S. Welhaven appealed to the independence of Norwegian literature. These efforts were followed by the collection and research of old folk literature (fairy tales, sagas, ballads) by P. C. Asbjørnsen, J. I. Moe and M. B. Landstad, the old, dialect-bound vernacular by I. Aasen and a national historiography by Peter Andreas Munch (* 1810, † 1863) funded. In literature, this return to one’s own cultural past was referred to as National Romanticism v. a. reflected by the use of fabrics from the Nordic Middle Ages. Older generation poets started this movement. She continued to shape the style of the writer in Landsmål A. O. Vinje and in the early works of the two most important Norwegian poets of the 19th century, H. Ibsen and B. Bjørnson. It is characteristic of the stormy literary development of this epoch that different literary currents were able to assert themselves alongside one another at an early stage: In addition to national romantic and idealistic tendencies (Ibsen’s “Brand”, 1866, German, and “Peer Gynt”, 1867, German), a realistic one emerged, societal direction through. The starting signal for the new “tendency literature” was C. Collett’s novel “Amtmandens Døttre” (1855; German “Die Amtmanns-Töchter”) in 1855. Building on this work, B. Bjørnson created with the drama “En fallit” (1875; German “Ein Fallissement”) and H. Ibsen with the “Samfundets støtter” (1877; German “Stützen der Gesellschaft”) a modern, contemporary drama, which, among other things, relates to the history of ideas. derived from the ideas of positivism and social Darwinism conveyed by G. Brandes from 1870 onwards. While H. Ibsen achieved great success with his social pieces on the German stages as the most frequently played author and had a lasting influence on German naturalism, B. Bjørnson was the leading figure in the political, moral and cultural questions of the nation, among others. in the Pan-Scandinavian movement, the moral debate and the union dispute with Sweden. B. Bjornson had already “Synnøve Solbakken” (1857; German) created the type of fluctuating between idealism and realism and far stylistically acting the 20th century farmhouse narrative whose style the great realistic narrator J. Lie and A. L. Kielland transferred to the civil environment, while the Landsmål poet A. Garborg made this subject accessible to naturalism. The moral debate of the 1880s, triggered by naturalistic novels by B. A. Skram and by the so-called Christiania-Boheme (C. Krohg and H. Jæger), although fully committed to naturalism, thematically introduced the soul poetry of the 1890s, which combined a radical rejection of naturalism with a turn to psychological individualism with the stylistic devices of impressionism, symbolism and neo-romanticism. In addition to the young K. Hamsun, with his novels »Sult« (1890; German »Hunger«) and »Mysterier« (1892; German »Mysteries«) and his polemical literary lectures, the poets of the older generation that he criticized contributed to this change in style: A. Garborg, J. Lie and especially H. Ibsen with his late works, also G. Heiberg and S. Obstfelder.


According to bridgat, the geographical extent, the low population density, the difficult accessibility of large areas and climatic influencing factors make the expansion of the transport infrastructure difficult. The lines of the state railways (NSB) are mostly single-tracked. Oslo has had a railway connection with Bergen since 1909 (the 471 km long Bergen Railway runs through 186 tunnels on Hardangervidda) and since 1944 with Stavanger (Sørlandbahn). In the north, the rail network extends to Bodø. Without a connection to the rest of the Norwegian network, the Ofotbahn transports iron ore from Kiruna to Narvik. It was privatized in 1996.

Three quarters of the road network has a solid ceiling. Particularly in winter, there are major problems in dealing with road traffic. It was not until 1967 that the first winter-proof road connection, Haukelistraße, was opened between Oslo and Bergen, which crosses parts of the Hardangervidda in five tunnels with a total length of 14.3 km. There are now a number of other connections, including one that runs through the Lærdal Tunnel, which, at 24.5 km, is the longest road tunnel in the world (opened in November 2000).

Norwegian Literature

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