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Ludvig Holberg

Ludvig Holberg, 1684-1754, was the author who created a professional Danish drama. Born in Bergen in Norway, he was a keen traveller especially during his younger years, and France and Italy were of particular significance for his artistic development.

Ludvig HolbergHe had an international outlook and worked consciously to bring Danish intellectual life up to the European level. His comedies represent only a small part of an enormous output comprising many kinds of creative writing plus science and philosophy. Examples are his Moralske Tanker (Moral Thoughts) and Epistler (Epistles) written in the spirit of Seneca and Montaigne.

As a dramatist Holberg was close to Molière and was at the same time fascinated by the robust comedy of Italian commedia dell'arte. However, although his gallery of characters has foreign forebears ­ the old fathers, the young lovers, the wily servants, etc. ­

Holberg created a comedy based on the Denmark of his own day, with recognisable types, usually such as were found in Copenhagen; and there was a constant emphasis on the fact that there is a moral purpose behind the fun. This latter aspect was also a pragmatic quality of use to Holberg outside the theatre: Since 1717, he had been a professor in the University, and as such it was not entirely appropriate for him to spend his time on such frivolous things as the theatre.


Bent Holm, Gyldendal Leksikon

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