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A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870-1980


Sven H. Rossel
Translated by Anne C. Ulmer

A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870-1980
A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870-1980


A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870-1980 was first published in 1982. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The decade of the 1870s marked a breakthrough in the literature of Denmark and Norway and, in the next decade, of Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. Until that time, these countries had to a large extent received literary and cultural impulses from abroad, but with the development of new realistic and naturalistic literary modes in the 1870s, they became a creative cultural area, one of the centers of world literature.

Sven Rossel begins his literary history at this turning point. Instead of providing a complete survey, with its risks of superficiality, he focuses on a number of outstanding writers who are considered representative of literary periods, stylistic trends, or social groups. Among the authors whose work he considers are the Danish essayist Georg Brandes and novelist Isak Dinesen, Norwegians Henrik Ibsen, Knut Hamsun, and Ole E. Rølvaag, Swedes August Strindberg, Selma Lagerlöf, and Vilhelm Moberg, Minna Canth and Christer Kijlman of Finland, and the Icelandic novelist and poet, Halldór Kiljan Laxness. He does not, however, confine himself to authors well established in the non-Scandinavian world but gives attention also to talented writers who have – undeservedly – remained unrecognized even in their native lands.

Rossel provides a social, cultural, and political context for his literary study and emphasizes the interrelationship among the five countries. In addition, he stresses reciprocal influences in world literature, devoting special attention to Anglo-American cross-currents. This book is for scholars, students, and general readers interested in the literary and cultural life of the Nordic countries or in comparative literature.

A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870-1980

Sven H. Rossel has taught at the Universities of Hamburg and Kiel, and the University of Washington. He is currently a professor of Scandinavian language and literature at the University of Vienna, Austria.

Anne C. Ulmer is a professor of German at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

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