From Gutenberg to Runeberg: A Nordic (Scandinavian) Literature Initiative

By Eismark, Henrik | Searcher, March 1999 | Go to article overview

From Gutenberg to Runeberg: A Nordic (Scandinavian) Literature Initiative


Eismark, Henrik, Searcher


Henrik Eismark, SLA, has been employed as an information specialist in a Danish oil & gas company since 1993. Previously he had been in the travel industry and remote locations in Greenland and Norway.

For students and aficionados at Nordic literature, the Runeberg site is a must. Since 1992, the volunteer-based project has offered an opportunity to read Nordic classics electronically in HTML format at no cost. Presently more than 200 electronic texts have been loaded and the number is growing fast.

Academic institutions in the Nordic countries and students of Nordic languages at foreign universities appreciate the online archive, as books in Nordic languages can be hard to come by overseas. The "Nordic" region comprises the group of countries in Northern Europe usually referred to as Scandinavia, bound together by similar history, traditions, and religion: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. Usually, native speakers of Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian can read the other two languages with a bit of good will and a dictionary in hand; Finland and Iceland, although located in the "Nordic" region, have altogether different languages.

Project Runeberg's steering committee states, "Human language is a way of communicating experience between individuals. Written text is a way of transferring experience that transcends generations ... and distance." Someone in Australia can use Project Runeberg to learn what someone else experienced in Iceland in the 13th century.

Volunteers from all over the world have scanned and edited the literature found on the Project Runeberg Web site [http://www.lysator.liu.se/runeberg], and it is all free of copyright. Besides scanned or typed reproductions, the site also offers biographical information with links to further reading. A useful "Must Read" list is also available, containing the pearls of Nordic literature in the original language.

The founders of the project are Swedish, hence much of the literature selected is in Swedish. All Nordic publications are most welcome, as I experienced myself when I joined up. Volunteers perform such tasks as proofreading, scanning, editing, supplying links or biographical information, or merely advising on important works to include. …

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