A History of Danish Literature

By Sven H. Rossel | Go to book overview
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look at the world--all diluted to immediacy and entertainment, to superficial mirror effects. It almost seems as if postmodernism is being caught in its own net of games and plays, to the extent that even slightly older postmodernists feel turned off. Has the game begun to approach the endgame, or the limit where some dialectical humanism may be in the position to respond to the postmodern challenge?An answer in the affirmative is suggested by the young Jens-Martin Eriksen ( 1955-), whose remarkable novel trilogy from the late 1980s carries the same tune to the point that the author has felt the need to distance himself from his allegedly old-fashioned role as a human storyteller. The question is particularly relevant, though, in light of the fact that Denmark's most popular writer by the end of the 1980s was Martha Christensen ( 1926-), a sixty-four-year-old working woman whose twelve novels passed relatively unnoticed until the late 1970s, but whose breakthrough with Dansen med Regitze ( 1987; Dancing with Regitze) put her name on everybody's lips (and brought an Academy Award nomination for the screen version of her book). Why is an easily read social realist with roots in the Herman Bang tradition and with a message centered on petty-bourgeois humaneness the big success in a period mired in high technology and postmodernity? Is it simply proof of the fact that any time is far behind its vanguard and that older and younger authors are always contemporaries? Or is it, rather, testimony to this particular period's interplay between incompatible artistic forms, and its disregard of historical and formal dividers, in other words, to postmodern eclecticism in a nutshell? If so, perhaps the lesson to be learned is how decentered postmodernity may evolve into its own opposite: an artistic concern with all the major issues of today--from women's liberation to family harmony--that are threatened by depersonalization or effacement tomorrow. Perhaps that is the dialectic and humanistic response--in practice--to the vagueness and elusiveness of our time. And a response the majority of readers dare consider a fixed point.
Borum Poul. Samtale med Ole Sarvig. Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1960.
Clausen Claus. Digtere i forhør 1966. Samtaler med tolv danske forfattere. Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1966.
Dinesen Isak [Karen Blixen]. Daguerreotypes and Other Essays. London: Heinemann, 1979.
Hammerich Paul, ed. Panduros verden. Copenhagen: Forum, 1977.


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