Long under the cultural domination of Denmark and the political hegemony of Sweden, Norway first defined itself through its literature and continues to do so to our day. "A History of Norwegian Literature" reviews the complex role literature has played in Norway since runic times. Beginning with rock carvings five millennia old, Norwegian literature first came to flower with the Norse poets of the ninth century, who chronicled the heroism of Viking explorers and conquerers.
The authors describe the subsequent progression of Norwegian literature through the middle ages and the baroque to Ludvig Holberg and the age of enlightenment, and from thence to the cultural debates of the nineteenth century, the dramas of Ibsen, the psychological novels of Sigurd Hoel, the modernist poetry of the 1950s and 1960s, and the postmodernism of the present. The works of Nobel Prize winners Sigrid Undset, Knut Hamsun, and Bjornstjerne Bjornson are covered in some detail, and separate chapters are devoted to children's literature and women writers in Norwegian literature.
Like other volumes in "A History of Scandinavian Literatures"; "A History of Norwegian Literature" views the literature of Norway not only as part of an interrelated Scandinavian tradition but as part of world literature. A comparative approach is used throughout, and social and cultural history feature prominently. Contributors to Volume 2 include leading scholars James E. Knirk, Kathleen Stokker, Harald Naess, James McFarlane, William Mishler, Jan I. Sjavik, Margaret O'Leary, and Faith Ingwersen.
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