Previous treatments of Danish literature in a foreign language have mainly consisted of brief, often rather superficial introductions that exclude women's and children's literature. Frequently, only certain periods were covered and rarely were attempts made to discuss the literary works in their social and historical context or to view them in a wider international perspective.
The present volume is unique in that it covers Danish literature from its beginnings to 1990), allowing ample space for each literary period and presenting the literary works in their interdependence with various cultural and ideological currents. As an innovation, separate and extensive discussions have been included on Faroese literature, children's literature, and women's literature. The reason for treating children's and women's literature in separate chapters is not based on any theory of exclusivity--many of the writers discussed here are also dealt with in other parts of the volume--but a desire to let the critical methods developed within these two areas come to the fore.
The theoretical diversity of Danish literary criticism is maintained in the present volume. Extrinsic as well as intrinsic approaches are incorporated (often within the very same chapter), ranging from philological scrutiny to essayistic discourse. In some chapters a sociological method dominates, in others that of intellectual history. Some contributors focus on the development of the genres, others on ideological changes. The inclusion of quotations varies from chapter to chapter (all translations were made by the contributors unless otherwise noted). I have not attempted to achieve stylistic homogeneity beyond providing general guidelines for format and the overall periodization, which for the sake of clarity and for pedagogical reasons