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Adam Oehlenschläger

Even on the basis of his first works, Adam Oehlenschläger, 1779-1850 was assured of a position as the leading figure of Danish Romanticism.

Adam OehlenschlægerHis Digte (1803, Poems) were the starting signal for the new literature. This volume included the poem "Guldhornene" (The Golden Horns) and the short reading drama summing up the philosophy of universal Romanticism, both of which became part of literary mythology for later writers and were to form part of the Danish cultural tradition until far into the 20th century.

The same applies to his verse reading drama Aladdin (from Poetiske Skrifter, Poetical Writings, 1805), which until about the time of the First World War constituted an essential text for later writers, whether they agreed or disagreed with the ideas in it.

Oehlenschläger created a new, sensuous poetical language and brought new life to poetry; after the publication of Nordiske Digte (1807, Nordic Poems) he turned Nordic mythology and legend into a living source of inspiration for literature and cultural life and breathed new life into Danish drama through his great tragedies (e.g. Hakon Jarl, 1807) (Earl Hakon the Mighty), and then later through more psychological plays such as Dina (1842).

After a prolonged journey abroad 1805-09 (including visits to Goethe in Weimar and Madame de Staël in Paris) Oehlenschläger became Professor of Aesthetics in 1810.

In 1829 he was proclaimed the King of Nordic Poetry by Esaias Tegnér, but after 1813 he encountered a good deal of criticism in Denmark on account of what was seen to be too great a production of plays, and also his determined concentration on Nordic themes, even at a time which demanded a more realistic presentation of the present.

At the same time he relinquished Romanticism and replaced it with a humane bourgeois idealism. He wrote some of his works (e.g. the play Correggio) in German and won widespread recognition in Germany. There is a great deal of humour and humanity in Oehlenschläger's work, particularly in his letters and his autobiography.


Johan de Mylius, Gyldendal Leksikon

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