A History of Norwegian Literature

A History of Norwegian Literature

A History of Norwegian Literature

A History of Norwegian Literature

Excerpt

The author of this history, to whom we owe in addition a number of distinguished articles and monographs, is a professor of Norwegian literature at the University of Bergen. His work as surveyor of all Norwegian literature began with a school text published in 1933, which was expanded and entirely rewritten in the present work published in Oslo in 1952. When The American-Scandinavian Foundation chose this volume to represent Norway in its contemplated series of Scandinavian histories of literature, it gave the translator carte blanche to adapt, rearrange, or even rewrite the book in order to produce a volume that might be most useful for introducing Norwegian letters to an American public. This sensitive task was undertaken by the translator with the full consent of the author and a feeling of responsibility to the author as well as the public.

A guide to the literature of a nation is charged with many tasks. In so far as it is historically arranged, it must parallel the course of social, political, and intellectual development of the nation. But it cannot become identical with any of these, since it deals primarily with creative literature, which consists of the unique products of artistic genius. It must therefore evaluate its materials according to their literary quality, both in selecting and in discussing them. It must also give the reader some idea of the topics and situations dealt with by the authors selected, which requires an understanding of the world in which these authors lived. This brings with it a need for biographical data about the principal authors, data that explain their choice of themes if not their success as literary artists. To combine all this into a single volume of manageable size and readable style is no mean feat, as reviewers of Professor Beyer's original have pointed out.

But it seems evident that the choice of authors and works to be discussed, of the judgments to be handed down, of the biographical cultural and . . .

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