[Skip to Content]

Villy Sørensen

Villy Sørensen, 1929-2001, has helped establish a contemporary norm as both a writer of fiction and an essayist (taking aesthetics, cultural philosophy and cultural criticism as his themes).

Villy SørensenTogether with Klaus Rifbjerg he edited the periodical Vindrosen 1959-63, an important time in the establishment of modernism and neo-radicalism in Denmark. Sørensen's fiction is modest in extent, consisting really only of three collections of short stories, Sære historier (1953, Strange Stories), Ufarlige historier (1955, Harmless Tales) and Formynderfortællinger (1964, Tutelary Tales), and then De mange og de enkelte (1986, The Many and the Individuals).

Particularly the first two of these betokened a completely new way of writing, the so-called "absurd story", in reality a modern variant of the fairy-tale genre or the fantastic story in the tradition of a Hans Christian Andersen or Karen Blixen.

Typical themes for the two collections are repression (treated in a Freudian manner with a cultural critical perspective), disintegration and art as a means of providing an identity and solving crises.

At a later date Villy Sørensen has produced a re-telling of the story of Aladdin (1981) and recreations of Scandinavian mythological tales in Ragnarok ­ en gudefortælling (1982, The Downfall of the Gods) and Classical mythology, Apollons oprør (1989, The Rebellion of Apollo).

As an essayist Villy Sørensen has achieved a position of something approaching a one-man university. Countless critics and students of literature have come under the influence of the critical radicalism, the aesthetic analysis and philosophy of books such as Digtere og dæmoner (1959, Poets and Demons, (forming a background to almost all the stories)) and Hverken-eller (1961, Neither-Nor).

In contrast to the general American-French tendency of the post-war years, Villy Sørensen identified himself closely with the German cultural tradition (Broch, Mann, the young Marx, Nietzsche, Kafka and Schopenhauer, ­ on the last three of whom he has written books). He has in addition written studies on Seneca and Erasmus.

In 1978, together with the physicist Niels I. Meyer and the politician K. Helveg Petersen, he produced a work analysing society and proposing a utopian social ideal, Oprør fra midten (Revolt from the Centre), which attracted great popular backing. In recent years Villy Sørensen has devoted himself to writing on cultural history.


Johan de Mylius, Gyldendal Leksikon

we recommend

Other Great Danes

The lives and achievements of all these Great Danes and many more are outlined in biographies of varying lengths on these pages. Read more about The Great Danes.