Danish Literature


Danish literature is a part of Scandinavian literature and dates back to the Middle Ages. Throughout history, the most famous involved in Danish literature include historian Saxo Grammaticus, the playwright Ludvig Holberg, the storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and Karen Blixen. Karen Blixen became famous due to hear autobiographical book Out of Africa.

The most noteworthy authors of the modern age include Leif Davidsen (author of political spy stories), Bjarne Reuter (younger reader novelist), Peter Høeg (famous for the book Sense of Snow) and Jens Christian Grøndahl (who wrote psychological love stories like “Silence in October” and “An Altered Light”). By and large, the book trade in Denmark remains successful in spite of the current economic crisis.

The Earliest Danish Literature

The first texts from Denmark that still remain are runic writings on memorial stones and other various items. Some of these inscriptions include short poems. Denmark was introduced to European learning with the beginning of Christianity in the 10th century. This learning involved the Latin language and alphabet. One of the first significant pieces of Danish literature came about in the 12th century. It was a historical work called Gesta Danorum and was written by Saxo Grammaticus. This author’s work is still a large source for those studying Scandinavian myths and legends. It also acts as a first-person account of Danish history of the Saxo’s time period.

The Golden Age of Danish Literature

Danish literature focused on Romance during the Golden Age in Denmark (1800-1850). The philosopher Henrik Steffens (who gave famous lectures at Elers Kollegium) introduced Romanticism to Danish literature in 1802. Steffens brought forth the major German Romanticism themes, which include the relationship between nature, mankind, and history.

Romanticism continued with authors such as Adam Oehlenschläger. He is most famously known for the works Digte (1803) and Poetiske Skrifter (1805). After these works, Oehlenschläger rapidly became a very important poet in Denmark. A bit later in Denmark, Bernhard Severin Ingemann also published a set of romantic poems and went on to produce a large number of plays. He then published a successful series of novels and a number of religious poems. These poems became an important part of hymns that were, at the time, being sung in Danish churches.

Current Literary Trends

Roughly 30 million books were sold in Denmark in 2002. In spite of this, one in every five books was in the English language. Speculators thought this to be a treacherous trend. In 2009, studies showed that the book market suffered a decrease of 9.1%. These statistics include the private and public sectors. At this time, there was also an unexpected plunge in book sales to schools. It is hoped that an increase in book sales will occur as soon as possible in the near future.

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