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review 2017-10-04 11:00
The Longing for Love: Marie Grubbe by Jens Peter Jacobsen
Marie Grubbe: Seventeenth Century Interi... Marie Grubbe: Seventeenth Century Interiors (Dedalus European Classics) - Jens Peter Jacobsen,Mikka Haugaard

In the nineteenth century the discoveries of Charles Darwin not only revolutionised science and introduced the idea of evolution into human thinking, they also changed literature inspiring authors to a new approach to fiction writing. One of the first in Northern Europe to break with Romantic narrative tradition and to begin telling stories in a naturalistic style that showed man as a beast driven by instincts and urges was Danish botanist and writer Jens Peter Jacobsen (»»» read my author’s portrait). After his successful literary debut with a short story, he published in 1876 the historical novel Marie Grubbe. A Lady of the Seventeenth Century (Fru Marie Grubbe. Interieurer fra det syttende Aarhundrede). It is loosely based on the true story of a Danish noblewoman who died in 1718.


Jens Peter Jacobsen introduces Marie Grubbe as a slim and delicate girl with luxuriant hair of dull gold strolling in the gardens of her father’s estate in Tjele in Jutland. She is fourteen years old, motherless and according to the housekeeper, who is also the mother of her illegitmate baby half-sister, she is stubborn and bad. When war with Sweden breaks out, her father takes Marie with him to Copenhagen wishing her to stay with her wealthy aunt there. In fact, the widowed aunt is well-connected with the Royal Court and men like Ulrik Frederik, the favourite illegitimate son of the King, frenquent her house. Marie, however, is a romanitc child and has a crush on the King’s brave half-brother who successfully defended the city against Swedish attack. By the age of seventeen Marie has turned into a pretty young woman with many courtiers and Ulrik Frederik is one of them. Since he is a handsome and very promising young man, Marie agrees to marry him although she loves him only “after a fashion”. After a quiet wedding they pass passably happy months together until the King calls Ulrik Frederik to arms against Spain and he gladly departs to prove himself in combat. Upon his return he is a different man. His violent behaviour, his heavy drinking and philandering repulse her, so she refuses herself to him. What follows are nearly ten years of constant fight that after many tribulations and interference of their families end in divorce after all. And Marie sets out on a journey to Paris with her brother-in-law and lover who leaves her as soon as he realises that she has used up all her money. Grudgingly she returns to live with her father on his estate in Tjele in 1773. After six years her father persuades her through different threats to marry Palle Dyre, a counsellor of justice to the King whom she despises. For ten years their lives are eventless except for “endless quarrelling and bickering, mutual sullenness and fault-finding”. Then the coachman Soren Sorensen Moller commonly known as Soren Overseer enters into her life. She is forty-six and he twenty-two years old…


The wild and headstrong Marie Grubbe who isn’t willing to content herself with being well provided for by just any suitable husband higher or equal in social status as her surroundings expect is sometimes called the Danish Madame Bovary, but having read both novels, I can make out only one similarity, namely the fact that the protagonists are women who driven by their longing for romantic love and happiness break social conventions. The plot isn’t particularly complex, the psychological depth, on the other hand, that Jens Peter Jacobsen lends his leading character is remarkable and outdoes even Gustave Flaubert in my opinion. In fact, much of the book’s charm lies in the skilful and meticulous depiction of the thoughts, emotions and unconscious urges of Marie Grubbe. Together with the precise and detailed illustration of scene, society and history it makes a gorgeous novel. To my great relief, Jens Peter Jacobsen’s writing style isn’t longwinded and flowery as that of many of his precursors and contemporaries which made the read very pleasant for me and amazingly modern too considering that the novel first appeared in 1876.


It goes without saying that the works of Jens Peter Jacobsen are all in the public domain by now although there may be newer translations that aren’t. Nonetheless, an English edition of Marie Grubbe can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg for instance.


Marie Grubbe: Seventeenth Century Interiors (Dedalus European Classics) - Jens Peter Jacobsen,Mikka Haugaard 

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url 2014-09-12 18:00
A Danish Precursor of German Symbolism: J. P. Jacobsen

J. P. Jacobsen


The nineteenth century was one of progress in science, but also literature underwent considerable changes. Innovative writers around the world propagated realism and naturalism in their work. An important Danish figure of the movement, who is almost forgotten today although his works were widely read in his time as well as after his early death, was Jens Peter Jacobsen. However, he was much more than just a naturalist writer. His influence is notable in the works of Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann, D. H. Lawrence and many others. And yet, who still remembers him outside Scandinavia?

J. P. Jacobsen was a very intelligent young man with a great interest both in natural science as well as in literature. The work of Charles Darwin impressed him and inspired him to disseminate it in Scandinavia through his translations and scientific articles. Also his poems, short stories and novels show the deep impact that the Theory of Evolution left on his mind. His œuvre may be very small because he died already at the age of thirty-eight years, but with its markedly impressionistic language and an extremely precise as well as introspective style it left lasting traces in literature.

Click here to read my portrait of this important and impressive Danish writer.

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.co.at/2014/09/jens-peter-jacobsen.html
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review 2014-03-05 09:41
Danish Zobie Fiction!
Kadavermarch (in Danish) - Dennis J├╝rgensen

I recently read Kadavermarch as part of a February group read for a group that I help moderating (on GR). For a change the group chose a Danish book in the zombie/post-apocalyptic genre. We don't have that many books that fall into that genre in Denmark! The book is from 1991, so it was written quite a while before the rise of the current waive of zombies in both literature and television. On a side note I'd like to add that it reminded me tremendously of The Walking Dead (tv series).

As you might expect this book is quite action-packed and fast paced. There's a lot of (unexpected?) humour in it as well. The language/style of the book I found to be very Young Adult-y, but not in an immature sort of way, it reads simple, quick and fluid, though at times I found the choice of words and mannerisms of some characters unlikely/out of character.

It was incredibly fun to read a book in Danish for a change, and it was fun to have it all set in my home country of Denmark - it's definitely a unique little book worth reading if you otherwise like the genre and/or are open-minded.

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