Brandes, Georg Morris Cohen

Brandes, Georg Morris Cohen

(brän` dəs), 1842–1927, Danish literary critic. His influence brought the wide currents of contemporary European thought to Danish and other Scandinavian literatures. He wrote and lectured in many languages and many believed him to be the greatest critic since TaineTaine, Hippolyte Adolphe
, 1828–93, French critic and historian. A brilliant student, he gained recognition with the publication of his doctoral thesis, Essai sur les fables de La Fontaine (1853).
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. Yet he was refused the chair in aesthetics at the Univ. of Copenhagen in 1870 because he was a Jew, an atheist, and a "radical." He was granted the same chair in 1902. After finishing Critiques and Portraits (1870), he traveled on the Continent, meeting, among others, Taine and RenanRenan, Ernest
, 1823–92, French historian and critic. He began training for the priesthood but renounced it in 1845. His first trip to Italy (1849) influenced his interest in antiquity but did not change most of his basic ideas, formed by 1848 when he wrote
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, who influenced his ideas and work. On his return he wrote Main Currents in Nineteenth-Century Literature (6 vol., 1872–90, tr. 1901–5), an attack on provincialism and reaction. An opponent of romanticismromanticism,
term loosely applied to literary and artistic movements of the late 18th and 19th cent. Characteristics of Romanticism

Resulting in part from the libertarian and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution, the romantic movements had in common only a
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, Brandes helped direct the Scandinavian literatures toward realism and concern with social issues. While he took credit for introducing feminism to Denmark with his translation of John Stuart Mill's On the Subjugation of Women into Danish (1869), he completely excluded women authors from his canon-setting work Men of the Modern Breakthrough (1883). His review, the Nittende Aarhundrede, was discontinued after three years. Brandes spent some time in Berlin, where he came under the influence of NietzscheNietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm
, 1844–1900, German philosopher, b. Röcken, Prussia. The son of a clergyman, Nietzsche studied Greek and Latin at Bonn and Leipzig and was appointed to the chair of classical philology at Basel in 1869.
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. He was attacked during the World War I for maintaining total neutrality. Among his later works are William Shakespeare (1895–96, tr. 1898), Goethe (1915, tr. 1924), Voltaire (1916, tr. 1930), and Jesus, a Myth (1925, tr. 1926), a work which gained him many enemies.

Bibliography

See studies by P. Dahlerup (1984), H. Hertel and S. M. Kristensen (1980), and B. Nolin (1976); P. Dahlerup, Women of the Modern Breakthrough (1984).

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