The history of Danish literature, from the runes to contemporary authors, has been the object of numerous treatments since the eighteenth century. After focusing initially on bibliography, these works came to reflect the various critical and methodological trends of the period in which they were written: philosophy and formalism ( J. L. Heiberg), comparative literature ( Julius Paludan), and the biographical-psychological approaches of the nineteenth century ( P. L. Møller, Georg Brandes). Around the turn of the century and later these methods were applied either separately or in combination, often with superb results ( Valdemar Vedel, Vilhelm Andersen). The twentieth century, in addition, has seen the development of genre studies ( Paul V. Rubow) and close-reading techniques ( Hans Brix). Brix anticipated the school of New Criticism of the 1960s, which was succeeded by Marxist ideological criticism ( Johan Fjord Jensen), feminist criticism ( Pil Dahlerup), and a multitude of structuralist and deconstructionist approaches.
This array of trends is less evident in the various foreign-language introductions to Danish literature. Here the foremost mandate obviously has been to present to an uninitiated foreign audience trends, authors, and works in a manner as factual and pedagogically accessible as possible. Such presentations were initially guided not only by the attempt to provide reliable information but also with a promotional intent. Agencies such as Det danske Selskab (The Danish Cultural Institute) or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were the publishers. Mostly, their publications emphasized periods before 1900 and major literary figures such as Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. Contemporary Danish Authors ( 1952) by Jørgen Claudi