Seven One-Act Plays by Holberg

Seven One-Act Plays by Holberg

Seven One-Act Plays by Holberg

Seven One-Act Plays by Holberg

Synopsis

These short plays by the great Danish-Norwegian playwright Ludvig Holberg reveal, in brilliant and sparking miniature, his genius for comedy. The plays are here translated into English for the first time, with an introduction by Svend Kragh-Jacobsen, well-known Danish theater critic. In these social comedies Holberg pricks the vanity of snobbery and the worship of riches, deals with the world of the philosophers, and has fun with the theme of common sense. A talkative barber, a scientific charlatan, and an ignorant farmer boy come in for sharp characterization.

First published in 1950.

Excerpt

LUDVIG HOLBERG'S comedies, Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, and Steen Steensen Blicher's short stories are the chief pillars in the structure of Danish literature, and a common feature of these three writers is that their genius appears even in their slightest works. Their fame, national as well as international, naturally arises from their most important work, but even in their less significant products there is a suggestion of greatness. The seven one-act plays that Professor Henry Alexander presents to us here exhibit this quality in the great Danish dramatist.

Holberg's greatest works are his comedies, which constitute perhaps the proudest chapter in the golden book of Danish literature, but it is obvious that his fame does not depend on these one-act plays, nor do they clearly show his full importance. And yet in this modest portion of his extensive and impressive production there is so much of the genuine Holberg that it is surprising that a Canadian should be the first to think of collecting these one-act plays into a book as a sample of the Danish maestro's art. In their present form they enter the Danish Foreign Office with a friendly greeting from The American-Scandinavian Foundation, following the two volumes of longer plays by Holberg already presented in an English version by this body. And if we examine them more closely, we shall see one feature added to another, until we have a miniature of Holberg and his comedy that is not at all inadequate--although in one respect it fails: it cannot, naturally, give us an idea of the scale he works in, which in his main comedies measures up to the standards of world literature. For this the seven full-length plays, already translated in the same series, must be studied.

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