Grundtvig, Nikolai Frederik Severin

Grundtvig, Nikolai Frederik Severin

Grundtvig, Nikolai Frederik Severin (nĭkōlīˈ frĭᵺˈərĭk sĕvərēnˈ gro͝ontˈvĭg), 1783–1872, Danish educator, minister, and writer, founder of the Danish folk high school. He came into doctrinal conflict with church authorities and was forbidden to preach but was reinstated (1832) and became titular bishop (1861). In education Grundtvig stressed national history and literature. A champion of mass education, he was responsible for evolving a system of folk high schools that has aroused international interest. Grundtvig's many literary works include his epoch-making Northern Mythology (1808, rev. ed. 1832), which loosely retells the Old Norse myths. His poems and songs treat historical, mythological, and religious subjects. He was influential in reviving interest in Anglo-Saxon literature, and he translated Beowulf into Danish (1820). Svend Grundtvig, the folklorist, was his son.


See studies by H. Koch (tr. 1952), J. Knudsen (1955), and E. D. Nielsen (1955).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Grundtvig, Nikolai Frederik Severin


Born Sept. 8, 1783, in Udby; died Sept. 2, 1872, in Copenhagen. Danish writer and historian.

Grundtvig became a bishop in 1861; he was a reformer of the church and school. He was an exponent of the sentiments of conservative circles of Denmark’s peasant democracy. He established so-called people’s high schools for the education of young people in the national and religious spirit; these schools spread throughout Scandinavia. Grundtvig’s first works were The School Proprietor (1802), a comedy that made sport of seminarians, and The Masked Ball (1808), a satiric poem. He was the author of historical and mythological works written from antirationalist premises, including The Mythology of the North (1808; revised edition, 1832) and Brief View of the History of the World (1812–17). He wrote religious and moralistic works. For his sermon The Reply to the Church (1825) he was fined and sentenced to lifetime censorship, which was remitted in 1838. His Collection of Songs for the Danish Church (1837–41) is pervaded with the ideas of conservative romanticism. Grundtvig had an influence on Kierkegaard.


Værker udvalg, vols. 1–10. Edited by G. Christensen and H. Koch. Copenhagen, 1940–49.


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Ronning, F. N. F. S. Grundtvig, vols. 1–4. Copenhagen, 1907–14.
Borup, J. N. F. S. Grundtvig. Copenhagen, 1943.
Norrild, S. Dansk litteratur fra Saxo til Kaj Munk, vol. 1. Copenhagen, 1949.
Koch, H. N. F. S. Grundtvig. Copenhagen, 1959.
Johansen, S. Bibliografi over N. F. S. Grundtvigs skrifter, vols. 1–4. Copenhagen, 1948–54.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.