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Klaus Rifbjerg

(15 December 1931 - 4 April 2015) One of the principal figures in Danish post-war literature and cultural criticism, a rejuvenator especially of lyric poetry, in which he was a pioneer of Danish modernism at the beginning of the 1960s.

Klaus Rifbjerg 
Foto: Morten Holtum
His work was very extensive both in the number of titles and the range of genres and modes of expression, characterised by vigorous productive energy and great linguistic inventiveness.

The collection of poems entitled Konfrontation (1960, Confrontation) which tests the ego and the senses against an alienating material reality was a breakthrough for Rifbjerg the poet and at the same time the beginning of the "incomprehensible" modernism of the 1960s. It was followed up by the great associative poem Camouflage (1961), but by 1965 in his Amagerdigte (Poems from Amager) Rifbjerg was already moving into a new simplicity.

In the late Kandestedersuite (1994, Kandesteder Suite), however, Rifbjerg has recaptured some of the tone of his early modernism. In prose, Den kroniske uskyld (1958, Chronic Innocence), a novel about a generation that got off to a bad start in its personal development and its sexuality, Rifbjerg created the image of himself as an author who was both provocative and scandalous.


The novel has since become a classic and is the first clear sign in Rifbjerg's work of the theme of puberty which has reappeared in much of the later fiction.

The collection of short stories ­ og andre historier (1964, ­ and other stories) keeps to the same range of themes but is at the same time a decided move into prose modernism. From the later novels, the Freudian inspired Operaelskeren (1966, The Opera Lover) and Anna (jeg) Anna (1969, Anna (I) Anna) deserve special mention.

In many books from the 1970s and 1980s, Rifbjerg has eagerly launched into a hybrid form of fiction and offensive portrayals of reality which have kept him and his readers on their toes. As a dramatist, too, and especially in the field of television drama, Rifbjerg has been productive.

As a literary critic and writer on culture, originally in the newspaper Information and subsequently in Politiken, and as the editor of the periodical Vindrosen 1959-63, Rifbjerg achieved a central position in Danish cultural life which was further reinforced by his years as Director of the Gyldendal publishing house (1984-92).

Johan de Mylius, Gyldendal Leksikon

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