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Ever since the publication of Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum at the beginning of the thirteenth century, scholars and laymen have grappled with the complex and marvellous chronicle. As much specialized scholarship has been published in Danish, this companion breaks new ground by giving a comprehensive and up-to-date tour of the work for a global audience. Attention is given to the unity of Saxo’s massive chronicle, whether he is dealing with a legendary pagan past or events from his own time. Saxo’s world and views are explored in ways that shed new light on all of northern Europe.
Contributors are Bjørn Bandlien, Karsten Friis-Jensen, Michael H. Gelting, Thomas K. Heebøll-Holm, Lars Hermanson, Lars Kjær, Torben Kjersgaard Nielsen, Annette Lassen, Anders Leegaard Knudsen, Lars Boje Mortensen, Mia Münster-Swendsen, Erik Niblaeus, Roland Scheel, Karen Skovgaard-Petersen, Kurt Villads Jensen, and Helle Vogt.
The monograph series Danish Golden Age Studies is dedicated to advancing international research on the Danish Golden Age, i.e., the period from 1800 to around 1850 when writers and thinkers such as Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard were active.

Volumes 1-12 have been published by Museum Tusculanum Press, Copenhagen, and can be found here: Danish Golden Age Studies.

See also our parallel translation series, Texts from Golden Age Denmark.
Georg Brandes (1842-1927) was one of the leading literary critics in Europe of his time. His Main Currents of Nineteenth Century Literature (1872-1890) was a foundational text to the field of comparative literature and extolled by Thomas Mann as the “Bible of the young intellectual Europe at the turn of the century.” Georg Brandes eventually developed into a truly global public intellectual, living by his pen and public lectures. On the eve of World War I, he was one of the most sought-after commentators, vigorously opposing all conflicting factions. This book seeks to understand Brandes’ trajectory, to evaluate Brandes’ significance for current discussions of literary criticism and public engagement, and to introduce Brandes to an international audience. It consists of 15 original chapters commissioned from experts in the field.
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This article examines Georg Brandes’ multi-faceted position within the German-speaking world, where he quickly became a topic of discussion in the intellectual milieus. The article functions as a kaleidoscope, through which the ambivalent perceptions of Brandes as a literary historian, a mediator, a critic and a networker can be seen. It examines how the German-speaking intellectual milieus, especially in Austria, viewed the Danish thinker. Brandes was an outstanding networker, with an immense circle of friends and acquaintances with whom he corresponded. Letters, accounts and articles about Brandes provide insight into his role as an ambivalent intellectual public figure and the mixed reception of his work and personality, which ranged from deification to rejection.

In: Georg Brandes
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This essay sketches out the central tension in the thought and work of the mature Brandes, that is after his fateful encounter with Nietzsche at the end of the 1880s. On the one hand, Brandes’ transition from politically/ideologically driven comparative literary study toward the long series of “great men” monographs amounts to a decisive self-reinvention, a turn away from his early literary radicalism toward the aristocratic radicalism of his later years. And yet on the other, any suggestion that Brandes abandoned political engagement is belied by the presence of his large corpus of writings on human rights issues, from the oppressed national minorities of Eurasia to the far more numerous subjects of colonialism abroad.

In: Georg Brandes
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Georg Brandes is usually considered the initiator and major inspirational figure of the Modern Breakthrough in Scandinavia, with Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879) as one of its first and foremost literary outcomes. A prominent example of this narrative is the one presented in Jørgen Knudsen’s multivolume biography of Brandes. This article argues that from a Norwegian perspective, focusing on the developments of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson as well as Ibsen, the modern breakthrough had a multilinear genealogy, partly stretching back long before the appearance of Brandes in the early 1870s. The article details the chronology of the breakthrough and its dynamics, and explores the complex and partly conflictual relationship between Brandes and Ibsen: their starkly contrasted habitus, Brandes’ critical responses to Ibsen’s works, and their very different international trajectories and intellectual networks. After A Doll’s House and Ghosts (1881), Ibsen set out to severe his ties with Brandes’ ‘literary party’. Brandes on his side did not much appreciated Ibsen’s work through the 1880s, and he played a rather marginal role in Ibsen’s international breakthrough from around 1890.

In: Georg Brandes
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In keeping with his view that great thinkers are integrally connected to the historical contexts in which they lived, Georg Brandes pursued epistolary relationships with many of the most prominent authors of his time, as well as with a wide range of private individuals. His letters reflect both his attempt to understand their relationship to their own contexts and his desire to introduce them to foreign artistic impulses that might complement and enhance their understanding and depictions of the world. This chapter demonstrates how Brandes used his extensive private correspondence with hundreds of correspondents in a dozen countries to bring particular writers and thinkers from different national traditions into contact with each other, introducing them to each other’s works and drawing them into a transnational dialogue about literature, aesthetics, and society. The transcultural, comparative quality of Brandes’ epistolary efforts at closing the gap between cultures that conceive of each other as “foreign” is both highly significant for the development of comparative literary studies as a discipline and one of his most enduring accomplishments.

In: Georg Brandes

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The chapter covers Brandes’ 1887 lecture travel to Russia that resulted in clashes of expectations between him and his intended and unintended audiences at home and abroad. Despite Brandes’ aim at overcoming narrow nationalist approaches to literary history, Pristed argues that his Impressions of Russia reinforced essentialist, French-inspired ‘Euro-Orientalist’ perceptions of the ‘subaltern’ Russian Empire, which were characteristic of his time in the 1880s. However, Brandes articulated his awareness of the linguistic and conceptual limitations of such an approach – and his attempts at defending Polish intellectuals against their imperial tsarina-oppressor of Danish origin foreshadowed contemporary inner-European decolonization debates about languages and literatures. The chapter further examines how Russian critics, publishers, and translators presented Brandes and his writings in the Westernizer and Slavophile camps of the journal landscape. Pristed points to the commentators’ inconsistent domestication and alienation strategies and demonstrates how the Russian depictions of Brandes changed over time. Brandes’ navigation between authoritarian and liberal forces within Russian society was not as straight forward as one could expect. In Russia, Brandes became a ‘domesticated’, rather than ‘good’ European.

In: Georg Brandes
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Georg Brandes is often cited as one of the founding figures of comparative literature. Why, though, did he matter so much, and how did he come to occupy such a seminal position? This essay attempts to answer these questions by relocating Brandes within the context of comparative literature as it was emerging as a discipline around the turn of the century. Tracing the major stations of his career, it considers the key arguments that Brandes advanced as a comparatist – in favour, notably, of internationalism and historicization – as well as the reception of his work on both sides of the Atlantic. From his major book Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature to more minor work such as his brief essay on world literature, Brandes consistently viewed culture as driven by the tension between local, national forces on the one hand, and global, international forces on the other. His enduring contribution to the development of comparative literature was to make this tension accessible to an international audience.

In: Georg Brandes

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The “current” constitutes the central concept in Georg Brandes’ grand oeuvre Main Currents in Nineteenth Century Literature. The concept denotes the major ideas and ideologies that dominated the successive periods Brandes examined, but it also designates a more elusive phenomenon – the whole emotional spectrum of feelings, moods, and sensibilities that suffused the individuals and societies that Brandes’ sought to describe and understand. Turning to literary works rather than political treatises, pamphlets, or other non-fictional documents, Brandes conceived of literature as an archive of both the ideas and the emotions of a given historical period. Indeed, Brandes’ famed “comparative literary perspective” was the prerequisite for discerning and writing a history of emotions. This chapter delves into Main Currents and outlines Brandes’ concept of emotions as he developed it across the six volumes. The chapter thereby seeks to recuperate a surprisingly innovative approach that serves as an important forerunner of Raymond William’s influential notion, in the 20th century, of ‘structures of feeling’ as well as a relevant background for the resurgence of interest in emotions, feelings, and affects in 21st century literary and cultural theory.

In: Georg Brandes