The heyday of Norwegian literature was announced by Henrik A. Wergeland (1808-1845): a fundamental figure of Norwegian nationalism, he wanted to create an authentically Norwegian culture, which was directly linked to the ancient one, ignoring the four hundred years of Danish domination. He was opposed by Johan S. Welhaven (1807-1873) who proposed a new culture on the basis of the pre-existing Danish one. Parallel to the nationalistic awakening, interest in the study of folk, linguistic and historical traditions also grew: Peter Christian Asbjørnsen (1812-1885) and Jørgen Moe (1813-1882) jointly published the collection Norwegian folk tales (1842), Ivar Aasen (1813-1896) advocated the creation of a new national language, landsmål on the basis of rural dialects and Peter Andreas Munch (1810-1863) supported his proposal, demonstrating the existence of historical links between rural and the Norse. Camilla Collett (1813-1895) instead paved the way for problematic realism, addressing the question of the position of women in marriage and in social life. The romantic current, in reiterating the need to create a Norwegian national theater, found its greatest representatives in Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) and in Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832-1910, Nobel Prize for literature in 1903). With the Catiline drama(1850), Ibsen announced the dominant theme in all his romantic dramas, from Brand (1866) to Peer Gynt (1867): individual freedom is achieved only when one discovers and fulfills one’s vocation. Visit thenailmythology.com for accommodation in Norway.
The meeting with the Danish critic G. Brandes (1842-1927) was decisive for Ibsen, as it marked his transition to realism, in the name of an art that put problems “under debate”. In the new plays, Doll’s House (1879), Ghosts (1881), The wild duck (1884), the characters are weak beings, often tormented by age-old prejudices, from which they manage to free themselves to affirm their individual freedom and live a life free from hypocrisy and compromise. Unlike Ibsen, Bjørnson was completely immersed in the political situation of the moment and was one of the strongest advocates of the dissolution of the union with Sweden. His first production – Synnøve Solbakken(1857), Between the battles (1857) and Re Sverre (1861) – consists of romantic works inspired by the Nordic Middle Ages and attributable to the thought of Wergeland in the affirmation of the absolute continuity between the Norwegians of the Middle Ages and the peasants of the century. XIX. Subsequently, also to adapt to the social problems of his time, Bjørnson turned to bourgeois drama, without however reaching the dramatic intensity of Ibsen. Jonas Lie (1833-1908) and Alexander Kielland (1849-1906) also belong to the golden period of Norwegian literature. Author of short stories inspired by everyday life, Lie is best known for his social novels Gilje’s Family (1883) and The Commander’s Daughters(1886); more idealistic and sympathetic to the sufferings of man was Kielland, who in social novels proved to be a skilled portraitist of small-town life. Alongside these thesis dramas were the experiences of the pseudo-scientific determinism of Amalie Skram (1847-1905); by Arne Garborg (1851-1924) who, after an initial adherence to naturalism, expressed his religious restlessness with a clear decadent imprint; by Gunnar Heiberg (1857-1929), representative of the lucid rationality of the “drama of ideas”; the neo- romantic Vilhelm Krag (1871-1933), who sang about nature, love and his childhood in prose and poetry; by Sigbjørn Obstfelder (1866-1900), expression of a dreamy and doubtful spirit; finally by Nils Kjær (1870-1924), a reactionary representative of an era of transition who made fun of the customs and life of Norwegians, infatuated with progressivism and technicality. The most eminent figures of Norwegian decadence were Knut Hamsun (1859-1952, Nobel Prize for literature in 1920) and Hans Ernst Kinck (1865-1926), who in their novels, essentially lyrical outbursts, wanted to describe the feelings of man almost at the level of the subconscious. K. Hamsun, who achieved success with the novel Fame(1880), faced various strands: controversial in Mysteries (1882), epic in The Sprouts of the Earth (1917) and lyric in the hymn to nature Pan (1894). Very close to Hamsun for aesthetic, social and political ideas was Kinck, who in the novels Gabriel Jahr(1902) and Emigrants (1904) dreamed of a Nordic race that excelled over the others. The best author of historical novels in all of Norwegian literature and one of the protagonists of the twentieth century is Sigrid Undset (1882-1949, Nobel Prize for literature in 1928), who in Kristin, daughter of Lavrans (1920-22) revives the Middle Ages with all its contradictions.