Monday, 19 August 2013

Johannes V Jensen

Having read CS Lewis, we can go on to read George MacDonald, knowing that Lewis read and enjoyed MacDonald before writing Narnia or The Great Divorce. (The latter features MacDonald as a character in conversation with Lewis.)

Thanks to Poul Anderson's article, "Johannes V Jensen" (All One Universe, New York, 1997), we can try to track down English translations of Jensen's Danish novels, knowing that they influenced Anderson.

Anderson summarizes the thousand year history of Scandinavian literature:

the Eddic poems;
the writing down of the Icelandic sagas;
the Danish folk ballads;
a revival during the Reformation;
eighteenth century playwright Holberg and poet Bellman;
the Romantic movement;
Hans Christian Anderson;
Ibsen and Strindberg;
literary realism in the nineteenth century;
many well known writers from the beginning of the twentieth century until the Second World War;
Jensen, 1873-1950.

Jensen "...invented a whole new literary form for himself, the 'myth' - a sketch which in a few pages, whether of straightforward description, fiction, or fantasy conveys an intensely personal impression of something, someplace, or somebody." (pp. 193-194)

Although these "myths" were brief, "...a few pages...," Jensen also wrote The Long Journey, a six volume series of mythological-historical novels stretching from before the Ice Age until the voyage of the Beagle. The series incorporates fantasy. Some of the characters live for centuries and one chapter of Anderson's The Boat Of A Million Years is a homage to Jensen. Since Jensen also has characters who may be the originals of Odin and Thor and shows the Cimbrian invasion of northern Italy, it is easy for a reader of Anderson's historical novels to recognize Jensen's influence.

4 comments:

  1. Hi, Paul!

    It's my view you overlooked two persons whose works also belongs in your summary list of Scandinavian literature. The first being Snorri Sturluson, author of THE PROSE EDDA and a history of the early kings of Norway called the HEIMSKRINGLA. The second being Snorri's contemporary Saxo Grammaticus, who wrote a history of Denmark called the GESTA DANORUM. I would put these men's work just after the writing down of the Icelandic sagas in your list.

    Sean

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      I forgot to add in my previous note that Poul Anderson's "In Memoriam" would seem to have been modeled after Johannes Jensen's brief "myths."

      Sean

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  2. Sean,
    First point noted. Thanks.
    Meanwhile, the new post and cover illustration have been forwarded to Ketlan to be added to the blog.
    Paul.

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    1. Hi, Paul!

      I think Snorri Sturluson is also believed to be the author of NJAL'S SAGA, considered one of the best of the Icelandic sagas.

      Thanks for you and Ketland uploading my new note!

      Sean

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