Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger

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Oehlenschläger, Adam Gottlob


Born Nov. 14, 1779, in Copenhagen; died there Jan. 20, 1850. Danish romantic writer.

Oehlenschläger became a student at the University of Copenhagen in 1800; in 1809 he was made a professor of aesthetics there. He popularized the prefeudal and pre-Christian culture and folklore of the Scandinavian peoples. Oehlenschläger’s early poetry was marked by romantic symbolism and patriotic ideals. His narrative poem The Golden Horns (1802) and drama St. John’s Eve Fete (1803) served as the “overture” to Danish romanticism. The principles of Danish romanticism were embodied in Aladdin (1805; abridged Russian translation, 1842), an allegorical drama based on a story in A Thousand and One Nights, and Vaulundur’s Saga (1805), an allegorical drama based on motifs from an ancient Scandinavian legend.

In the historical tragedies Hakon Jarl (1807; Russian translation, 1897), Palnatoke (1807; Russian translation, 1968), and Stxrkodder (1812; Russian translation in fragments, 1840), Oehlenschläger raised universally relevant problems of the struggle between the new and the old. He dealt with the opposition between Christianity and paganism, between the people’s rights and royal power, and between humanism and social evil.

In the tragedy Correggio (1809), Oehlenschläger depicted the dramatic position of the artist and art vis-à-vis a society preoccupied with property. He portrayed conflicts based primarily on love in the lyric tragedies Baldur the Good (1806), Axel and Valborg (1808, published 1810; complete Russian translation, 1968), and Hagbarth and Signe (1815; Russian translation, 1968), all of which used mythological and conventional historical themes. In the novel The Isle in the South Sea (1824–25), Oehlenschläger reworked the Utopian theme of Felsenburg Island, a novel by the 18th-century German writer J. G. Schnabel.

Such later tragedies as Olaf the Holy (1836), Canute the Great (1839), and Erik dipping (1844) were marked by one-dimensional characterizations and by the idealization of royal power. Oehlenschläger also wrote the autobiographical works Life of Oehlenschläger (vols. 1–2, 1830–31) and Reminiscences (vols. 1–4, 1850–51).


In Russian translation:
P’esy. Introductory article by A. Pogodin. Moscow, 1968.


Tiander, K. F. “Elenshleger i datskii romantizm.” In Istoriia zapadnoi literatury (1800–1810), vol. 2. Edited by F. D. Batiushkov. Moscow [1913].
Gozenpud, A. “Datskii teatr.” In Istoriia zapadno-evropeiskogo teatra, vol. 4. Moscow, 1964.
Andersen, V. Adam Oehlenschläger; Et livs poesie, vols. 1–3. Copenhagen, 1899–1900.
Henriques, A. Oehlenschläger og vor tid. Copenhagen, 1961.
Billeskov Jansen, F. J. Danmarks digtekunst, book 3, 2nd ed. Copenhagen, 1964.
Dansk litteratur historie, vol. 2. Copenhagen, 1965. (Contains bibliography.)