Georg Brandes

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Brandes, Georg

 

Born Feb. 4, 1842, in Copenhagen; died there on Feb. 12, 1927. Danish literary critic and publicist.

Brandes began his literary career in the 1860’s. In his major works he followed the principles of positivist aesthetics and some principles of the comparative historical method, combining them with psychological and biographical characterizations of writers and literary heroes. In 1871 he began giving lectures at the University of Copenhagen; these lectures were the beginning of his principal work, Main Currents in 19th-century Literature (vols. 1–6, 1872–90). In this work Brandes offered a characterization of the literature of the first half of the 19th century and made the first attempt to correlate the literatures of Western Europe. He published the works Søren Kierkegaard (1877), Benjamin Disraeli (1878) and Ludvig Holberg (1884) and so-called monographs on heroes—William Shakespeare (vols. 1–3, 1895–96) and Wolfgang Goethe (vols. 1–2, 1914–15). All these works reflected his idealistic views.

Brandes’ publicistic activity in the 1870’s and 1880’s played a considerable role in the struggle against political and religious reaction. His books Polish Impressions (1888) and Russian Impressions (1888), which were written after his travels in Poland (1886) and Russia (1887), as well as his essays on A. S. Pushkin, I. S. Turgenev, A. I. Herzen, N. G. Chernyshevskii, L. N. Tolstoy, Gorky, and others, contributed to the popularization of Slavic and especially Russian literature in Western Europe. In 1912, Brandes noted the appearance of a proletarian literature in Denmark in connection with the publication of M. Andersen Nexö’s novel Pelle the Conqueror. He opposed World War I, and in 1920 he signed the Ciarté Manifesto. Brandes spoke out in defense of the Soviet republic.

WORKS

Samlede skrifter, vols. 1–19. Copenhagen, 1899–1910.
Levned, [vols.] 1–3. [Copenhagen], 1905–1908.
In Russian translation:
Sobr. Sochinenii, 2nd ed., vols. 1–20. St. Petersburg, [1906–14].
“Iz avtobiografii Georga Brandesa.” Russkaia mysl’, 1907, no. 8.

REFERENCES

Derzhavin, N. “Georg Brandes.” Zhizn’ iskusstva, 1927, no. 10.
Nusinov, I. “K stoletiuu so dnia rozhdeniia Georga Brandesa.” Internatsional’ naia literatura, 1942, no. 2.
Aleksandrov, D. B. “Georg Brandes ν otsenke sovremennogo datskogo literaturovedeniia.” Skandinavskii sbornik, 1964, issue 9.
Rubow, P. V. Georg Brandes og den kritiske tradition i det nittende aarhundrede. Copenhagen, 1931.
Fenger, H. Georg Brandes’ laereår, 1857–1872. [Copenhagen], 1955.
Fenger, H. Den unge Brandes. [Copenhagen], 1957.
Rue, H. Georg Brandes og socialismen. Skjern, 1957.

D. B. ALEKSANDROV

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