Gjellerup, Karl (2 June 1857 - 11 October 1919)
Karl Gjellerup (2 June 1857 - 11 October 1919)
University of Minnesota
This entry was expanded by Houe from his Gjellerup entry in DLB 300: Danish Writers from the Reformation to Decadence, 1550–1900.
BOOKS: En Idealist: Skildring, as Epigonos (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1878);
“Det unge Danmark”: En Fortælling fa vore Dage (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1879);
Antigonos: En Fortælling fra det andet Aarhundrede (Copenhagen: Schou, 1880);
Rødtjørn: Sange og Fantasier (Copenhagen: Schou, 1881);
Arvelighed og Moral: En Undersøgelse tilkjendt Universitetets Guldmedaille (Copenhagen: Schou, 1881);
Aander og Tider: Et Rekviem over Charles Darwin (Copenhagen: Schou, 1882);
Germanernes Lærling: Et Livsafsnit fra vore Dage (Copenhagen: Schou, 1882);
Romulus: En Novelle (Copenhagen: Schou, 1883; revised, 1889);
G-Dur: En Kammer-Novelle (Copenhagen: Schou, 1883);
Brynhild: En Tragedie (Copenhagen: Schou, 1884; revised edition, Copenhagen: Lybecker, 1910);
En klassisk Maaned: Billder og Stemninger fra en Grakenlandsrejse (Copenhagen: Schou, 1884);
Vandreaaret: Skildringer og Betragtninger (Copenhagen: Schou, 1885);
Saint-Just: Historisk Sørgespil i fem Handlinger (Copenhagen: Schou, 1886);
En arkadisk Legende (Copenhagen: Schou, 1887);
Kampen med Muserne: Dramatisk Digt (Thamyris 1) (Copenhagen: Schou, 1887);
Helikon: Et dramatisk Digt (Thamyris 2) (Copenhagen: Schou, 1887);
Hagbard og Signe: En erotisk Tragedie i fem Handlinger (Copenhagen: P. G. Philipsen, 1888);
Bryllupsgaven: Rococo-Komedie fra det galante Sachsen i fem Handlinger (Copenhagen: Schou, 1888);
Min Kjœerligheds Bog (Copenhagen: P. G. Philipsen, 1889);
Minna (Copenhagen: P. G. Philipsen, 1889); translated by C. L. Nielsen as Minna: A Novel from the Danish
(London: Heinemann, 1913); revised German edition, “Seit ich zuerst sie sah” (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1918);
Herman Vandel: Sørgespil i tre Handlinger (Copenhagen: P. G. Philipsen, 1891);
Ti Kroner og andre Fortællinger (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1893);
Kong Hjarne Skjald: Tragedie i fem Handlinger (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1893);
Wuthhorn: Sørgespil i fem Handlinger (Copenhagen: Schou, 1893);
Pastor Mors: Eine seltsame Geschichte (Dresden: Minden, 1894); republished in Danish as Pastor Mors: En underlig Historie (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1894);
Eine Million: Schauspiel, by Gjellerup and Wilhelm Wolters (Dresden: E. Pierson, 1894); translated into Danish by Gjellerup as En Million: Skuespil i tre Handlinger. Efter Nikolaus Pawlows Novelle (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1894);
Hans Excellence: Skuespil indledet ved en Efterskrift til mine Dramer (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1895);
Møllen: Roman i fern Bøger (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1896; revised, 1911);
Mit formentlige Høiforr&deri mod det danske Folk: En Redegjørelse i Anledning of Denunciationerne i Flensborg Avis (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1897);
Konvolutten: En graphologisk Studie (Copenhagen: Schubothe, 1897);
Ved Grændsen: Roman (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1897);
Fabler (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1898);
Gift og Modgift: Komedie i fem Akter og paa Vers (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1898);
Tankelæserinden: Sjællandsk Præstegaardsidyl (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1901);
Die Opferfeuer: Ein Legenden-Stück, illustrated by Walther Witting (Leipzig: Hermann Séemann, 1903); translated into Danish by Gjellerup as Offerildene: Et Legendestykke, illustrated by Witting (Copenhagen: Schubothe, 1903);
Elskovsprøven: En Borgscene i Niebelungenvers (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1906);
Pilgrimen Kamanita (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1906); translated by John E. Logie as The Pilgrim Kamanita: A Legendary Romance (London: Heinemann, 1911; New York: Dutton, 1912);
Den fuldendtes Hustru: Et Legendedrama (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1907);
Verdensvandrerne: Romandigtning i tre Bøger (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1910);
Fra Vaar til Høst, illustrated by Hans Tegner (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1910);
Villaen ved Havet/Judas: To Fragmenter (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1910);
Rudolph Stens Landpraksis, 2 volumes (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1913);
Guds Venner (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1916);
Den gyldne Gren (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1917);
Das heiligste Tier: Ein Elysisches Fabelbuch, illustrated by Paul Hartmann (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1919);
Madonna della laguna: Eine venezianische Künstlergeschichte, illustrated by Hartmann (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1920).
Editions and Collections: Karl Gjellerup, der Dichter und Denker: Sein Leben in Selbsteneugnissen und Briefen, 2 volumes, with an introduction by P. A. Rosenberg (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1921, 1922);
Romulus, with an introduction by Svend Erichsen (Copenhagen: Westermann, 1942).
PLAY PRODUCTIONS: Herman Vandel: Sørgespil i tre Handlinger, Copenhagen, Folketeatret (Studenter-samfundets fri Teater), 14 May 1892;
Wuthhorn: Sørgespil i fem Handlinger, Copenhagen, Dagmarteatret, 2 March 1893;
Kong Hjäne Skjald: Iragedie i fem Handlinger, Copenhagen, Dagmarteatret, 1 December 1893;
En Million: Skuespil i 3 Handlinger, by Gjellerup and Wilhelm Wolters, Copenhagen, Dagmarteatret, 20 February 1894;
Hans Excellence: Skuespil, Copenhagen, Folketeatret (Studentersamfundets fri Teater), 27 April 1895;
Gift og Modgift: Komedie i fem Akter og paa Vers, Copenhagen, Dagmarteatret, 1 September 1898;
Møllen, Copenhagen, Casino, 12 April 1901;
Offerildene: Et Legendestykke, Copenhagen, Kongelige Teater, 3 September 1904;
Kampen med Muserne (Thamyris, 1–2): Dramatisk Digt, Copenhagen, Kongelige Teater, 9 February 1908.
OTHER: Nyere dansk Lyrik, edited by contributing authors, contributions by Gjellerup (Copenhagen: Stochholm, 1883), pp. 353–370;
Tusindfryd: Udvalgte Digte of nyere Forfattere, contributions by Gjellerup (Copenhagen: Schou, 1893), pp. 37–50;
Den ældre Eddas Gudesange, introduced, translated, and explained by Gjellerup (Copenhagen: P. G. Philipsen, 1895);
Johannes Fibiger, Mit Liv og Levned, som jeg selv har forstaaet det, edited by Gjellerup (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1898);
Nutids-Lyrik: En Samling danske Digte far Aarhundredets Slutning-1872–1900, edited by Aage Matthison-Hansen, contributions by Gjellerup (Copenhagen: Bergmann, 1899), pp. 71–76;
Danske Kærlighedsdigte, edited by Kai Hoffmann, contributions by Gjellerup (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1916), pp. 167–169; (Copenhagen, 1923), pp. 162–164;
Dansk Poesi 1880–1920, edited by Dansk Forfatterforening, contributions by Gjellerup (Copenhagen, Christiania, London & Berlin: Gyldendal, 1922), pp. 8–13;
Digternes Danmark, edited by Frederik Nygaard, contribution by Gjellerup (Copenhagen: Schultz, 1941), pp. 41–42;
Danske lyriske Digte, edited by Mogens Brøndsted and Marie-Louise Paludan, contributions by Gjellerup (Copenhagen: Politiken, 1953), pp. 130–131.
TRANSLATIONS: Richard Wagner, Valkyrjen, Forste Dag of Trilogien “Niebelungens Ring” (Copenhagen: P. G. Philipsen, 1891);
Otto Weininger, Kjon og Character: En principiel Undersogelse (Copenhagen: Christiansen, 1905);
Wagner, Tristan og Isolde (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1912).
While the Nobel Prize in Literature in most instances confirms the caréer of an author already prominent, in the case of Karl Gjellerup it marked the end of a lifelong struggle for artistic recognition. In spite of his prolific output in many genres and on many subjects, Gjellerup was both an anachronistic and a disharmonious writer, whose high-flown style, passionate abstractions, and indirect language failed to reconcile him with most audiences. He was an erudite fréethinker in most of his poetry, drama, and fiction, and his peculiar versatility betrays a moral and religious claim to core convictions that he never found within the confines of Danish culture. Gjellerup’s irrepressible idealistic drive led him into various uneasy relations with modern forms of realism.
While his collected work may never achieve classical status, its formal and artistic incoherence—in part acknowledged by the author himself, in part established by leading scholars and critics—is sufficiently interesting to qualify Gjellerup as an intermediary between the modern and the traditional. His remarkably cultured background and upbringing, and his voluntary residence in Dresden during the last half of his life, contribute to a “cross-cultural” literary production that illuminates the intersections between Danish and German traditions.
Karl Adolph Gjellerup was born in Roholte in Zealand on 2 June 1857 to a clergyman, Carl Adolph Gjellerup, and his second wife, Anna Johanne Elisabeth Gjellerup, née Fibiger. Karl had two sisters, Margrethe and Elisabeth, and seven half siblings from his father’s first marriage, one of whom was historian Sophus Gjellerup. When Karl’s father, who had moved from Roholte to the vicarage of Landet-Lyde in Lolland in 1858, died in 1860, Karl was sent to be raised by another clergyman, his mother’s cousin Johannes Fibiger, who was perpetual curate of the Copenhagen Garrison Church, and his wife, Amalie.
While kéeping in touch with his mother and sisters, Gjellerup found in the home of his foster parents both emotional devotion and intellectual inspiration. Fibiger was a high-strung and able theologian with deep philological and aesthetic interests, whose own literary ambitions never met with general approval but whose linguistic aptitude and spiritual influence did not leave young Karl untouched. Among the visitors to the Fibiger home were Mathilde Fibiger, his mother’s sister and his foster father’s cousin, who founded the modern women’s movement in Denmark and was a writer in her own right, and historian Edvard Holm, who was married to Amalie Fibiger’s sister, Gjellerup’s beloved “aunt” Edle.
Gjellerup favored the traditional values of his uncle Edvard over his aunt Mathilde’s novelties, and despite his own later ventures into secular modernism and fréethinking, his emotional ties to the Fibigers and their old-world universe were never severed. Initially, they secured him good preparatory schooling in Copenhagen, where he was taught by émigré teachers from the formerly Danish duchy in South Jutland. After Fibiger’s appointment to the provincial vicarages of Vallensved by Nætved and later Ønslev-Eskildstrup in Falster, the Fibigers gave Gjellerup a hospitable foothold in the pleasurable parsonage culture and nature of Denmark’s southern island kingdom, to which he repeatedly returned in later years.
On a superficial level, his departure from home to study theology, with aesthetics and moral philosophy on the side, at the University of Copenhagen seemed to be a pursuit of the same intellectual course that his foster father had followed. Gjellerup, however, had no intention to prepare himself for the ministry. Both the German Bible criticism that attracted his attention and his dissertation on Darwinian evolution and morals, for which he won a gold medal at the university, make evident that the impulses of his upbringing were far from uncontested.
In his many early attempts at poetry, drama, and fiction, Gjellerup had essentially sought to process the cultural stimuli he had absorbed in his home. Its staples were heroic ideals composed of ingredients from Percy Bysshe Shelley, A. C. Swinburne, and German Romantic music and literature, interspersed with the elements of free spirit known from Greek antiquity, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Friedrich Schiller, and a variety of clichés picked up from slightly younger Danish Romantics. Between graduation in 1878 and the prizewinning dissertation of 1880, Gjellerup became a published writer with a stridently modern agenda implanted into a body of immaturely received idealistic norms and values.
As Poul Houe has argued, the way Gjellerup’s caréer began presaged the outcome. Chronologically, Gjellerup debuted with En Idealist: Skildring (1878, An Idealist: A Depiction) under the pen name Epigonos, while the first title under his own name was “Det ungeDanmark”: En Fortælling fra vore Dage (1879, The Young Denmark: A Contemporary Narrative). While Epigonos was meant to suggest the author’s belonging to the classical tradition, it has been misconstrued to mean an inappropriate imitator. Critics from Herman Bang to Houe, however, have pointed out that idealistic tradition and empirical modernity were conflated from the outset and have remained the mixed blessing of Gjellerup’s artistic legacy. His early radicalism was strained and tendentious, and he never managed to silence a different and déeper-seated idealism.
Gjellerup himself later admitted as much in an exchange with poet Holger Drachmann, who had welcomed Epigonos as a young disciple of critic Georg Brandes. In his memorial preface to an anniversary edition of En Idealist in 1903, Gjellerup justifiably took issue with Drachmann’s verdict. While the protagonist of the novel, an idealistic young aesthete with the German name Max Stauff, insists he is a realist, his more realistic counterpart in “Det unge Danmark,” the sequel to En Idealist, is an unsuccessful young poetic writer with the unmistakably Danish name Knud Vinge, who has reason to consider himself an idealist. In the final analysis, Max and Knud are characters of a kind—fragmented Romantic heroes (in the tradition of heroes in the works of George Gordon, Lord Byron), yet deprived of romantic fortunes in real life.
For his depictions of such idealistic characters, Gjellerup found inspiration in the realism of Ivan Turgenev’s Russian novels. The Danish German Max Stauff is his version of Turgenev’s prototype Rudin, and the tragic destiny Max shares with Knud Vinge typifies Gjellerup’s reception of his Russian artistic role model. Johan Fjord Jensen has argued that Turgenev’s poetic realism was a revelation to Gjellerup and that, while Schiller satisfied Gjellerup’s bent for high poetry and grand style, Turgenev influenced his realistic fiction without compromising his virtuous idealism. Throughout the initial phase of his work, Gjellerup found in Turgenev’s characters, dramatic compositions, and descriptive impressionism a spiritual alternative to the virtual monopoly of French naturalism on the realistic doctrine of the “Modern Breakthrough” in Nordic literature.
Even more characteristic of Turgenev’s influence are the virtuous female characters and the homey situations that frame and subdue them. Turgenev’s Helena, the principal character of his novel On the Eve (1860) and one of his prototypal women, is related to Helene of En Idealist, whose philosophy of love further anticipates Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy of death, which becomes noticeable in Gjellerup’s later work. In like manner, the motif of lost love in the early novels, connoted by the tragic beauty of a setting sun, is at once a reflection of Turgenev and a possible premonition of the total dissolution of individual personality that most scholars find prevalent in the later, Indian phase of Gjellerup’s work. As Georg Buchreitz states, Gjellerup’s “sympathies for the far East date far back.”
During the same period, Gjellerup continued to be involved in more immediate concerns. Antigonos: En Fortælling fra det andet Aarhundrede (1880, Antigonos: A Tale from the Second Century) is a narrative, dedicated to radical intellectual Edvard Brandes, about a second-century Christian convert who ends up reverting to the gods of antiquity. Gjellerup appears still to be waging theological war on his own heritage, thinly and abstractly veiling his radical heresies as tributes to classical paganism.
Even less veiled is the cultural radicalism in Rødtjørn: Sange og Fantasier (1881, Red Hawthorn: Songs and Fantasies), a collection of lyrical poetry dedicated to Georg Brandes, who gave the work its title and under whose supervision it was composed. Brandes and his brother Edvard had earlier served as mentors to the young writer, correcting his manuscripts and reviewing his books, and in Rødtjørn the Brandesian spirit was credited in explicitly sacred terms. In a 7 August 1880 letter to J. P. Jacobsen, Edvard Brandes openly concedes that he and his brother were united in deliberate efforts to prepare “the little Gjellerup” for service in their army of true radicals. But apart from achieving status as the enfant terrible of this camp and frequently attracting the ire of staunch conservatives, little came of Gjellerup’s radicalism.
Swedish playwright August Strindberg, in a 26 June 1882 letter to Edvard Brandes, wrote of his delight in Rødtjørn, but such prominent modern novelists as Jacobsen were unconvinced of Gjellerup’s literary talent, and eventually both Edvard and Georg Brandes gave up on Gjellerup’s abstractions and anti-Semitic slurs. Gjellerup’s absence in Georg Brandes’s Det moderne Gjennembruds Mænd (1883, The Men of the Modern Breakthrough) is no less conspicuous than his presence in Bang’s Realisme og Realister (1879, Realism and Realists) with its less partisan and more artistically inclined view of modern realism.
The uneven mix of classical poetic forms in Rødtjørn was but one object of Jacobsen’s harsh critique; in addition, its author’s thematic exercises in anti-Christian fréethinking were pronounced more stridently than Jacobsen could tolerate. Niels Møller, as paraphrased by Claus Jensen, opines that Gjellerup’s idealistic search for meaning attracted him to such radicals as Brandes, with whom he had in common only the rejection of conventional Christendom. In the end, says P. A. Rosenberg, Gjellerup’s “anti-religious radicalism proved merely a point of transition on his way to an absolute Arian and religious idealism.” An ideological gap was opening at this point in his life between his adopted radical view and his own intellectual history, and as the chasm widened, his search for personal balance suggests why he later was inclined toward Buddhist thinking.
In his prizewinning dissertation, Arvelighed og Moral: En Undersøgelse tilkjendt Universitetets Guldmedaille (1881, Heredity and Morality: An Investigation Awarded the Gold Medal of the University), Gjellerup’s detailed history of Darwinism foreshadowed his own naturalism, and he made a particularly radical turn by adding a section on the moral right to suicide, a move that provoked a reprimand from the university. Nevertheless, as Fjord Jensen points out, Gjellerup’s dissertation did not initiate any systematic appropriation of naturalism; instead, Gjellerup turned to the art of Turgenev and the thoughts of Schopenhauer. What appealed to Gjellerup in Charles Darwin’s theory of heredity was its transindividual implications, which set it apart from earlier theories of individualism.
Gjellerup’s position was not scientific, and in his next book, Aander og Tider: Et Rekviem over Charles Darwin (1882, Spirits and Times: A Requiem over Charles Darwin), the title alone professes that positivistic naturalism was a lesser priority than spirituality and musicality. In Germanernes Lærling: Et Livsafsnit fra vore Dage (1882, The Teutons’ Apprentice: A Period of Life from Our Own Time) the author’s radical period was nearing its conclusion. As the narrator battles–on Gjellerup’s behalf–with both theology and an actual theologian in fictional disguise, he exposes the tumultuous history of his radicalism. Influenced by the anti-German sentiments of his southern Jutland relatives, the narrator is still attracted to the spirits of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller and even fails his divinity-school exam for voicing tenets of German Bible criticism in which he barely believes.
In many respects this Teutons’ apprentice is his author’s alter ego and so portrays Gjellerup’s personal and authorial leanings toward German culture, at least as the alternative to French culture. Danish critic Hakon Stangerup mentions how the social dimension supplants the poetic in this literary work, and his German colleague Heinrich Anz adds that the epochal clash between radical realism and classical idealism, which dominated the cultural scene in Denmark, was transposed by Gjellerup to a strife between undesirable Danish modernity and desirable German classicism. In the same vein, the preferential treatment in the novel of the German woman Johanna foreshadows not only protagonists such as the title figure in Minna (1889) but also Eugenia Anna Caroline Heusinger Bendix, a woman Gjellerup had recently met.
Bendix was married to Fritz Bendix, a musician and Brandes’s cousin. Gjellerup found her a liberating soul mate and kindred spirit of his other chosen affinities of German origin. Awaiting the outcome of a lengthy divorce procedure, Bendix, who suffered from both the physical and the spiritual climate in Denmark, relocated temporarily to Dresden; Gjellerup joined her there intermittently between 1885 and 24 October 1887, when the couple married. After five years’ residence in suburban Copenhagen, they and Bendix’s young daughter, Margrethe, moved to Dresden, where they appear to have led a modest and reclusive life.
Preceding his German self-exile, Gjellerup in 1883 went abroad on his principal Bildungsreise (journey of spiritual education) to Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Gréece, and Russia. In Venice he proofread his novel Romulus: En Novelle (1883, Romulus: A Novel) and wrote defensive letters home (for example, on 14 March 1883, in response to Otto Borchsenius, who had reviewed the book) about his use of factual material behind the dramatic story. A psychological treatment of a horse subjected to military abuse, the novel extends its humaneness to the human experience of love. Its female protagonist comes to self-realization as she learns to reach beyond the protective barrier of her social class by identifying with the suffering animal, and her reticent male counterpart comes to her defense as she stands up to the creature’s tormentor. Her practical ethics becomes his source of inspiration, and in siding with her, he comes to realize how to reclaim an innocent past as part of a dual responsibility. Meanwhile, as the suffering horse finally succumbs to its mortal destiny, the modern world barely takes notice.
The uplifting dimension of this novel is its compelling plea for community–between individuals and between their community and the larger world. It defies the more radical Brandesian notion of social responsibility, and Georg Brandes, who otherwise constructively suggested condensation of the narrative (adopted in its subsequent editions), failed to appreciate its venture into a social realism that is both formal and thematic, both tragic and poetic. When the images of virtuous womanhood modeled on Eugenia Gjellerup and the import of Turgenev on Gjellerup’s style and characterization are added to this mix, the allegiance of the book to the modern movement is ambiguous. Its literal juxtaposition of Darwin the scientific naturalist and Richard Wagner the musical monumentalist further suggests that Gjellerup is both ahead of and behind the times.
In his subsequent novel, G-Dur: En Kammer-Novelle (1883, G-Major: A Chamber Story), the musical title and looser atmospheric composition point to an attenuated Russian influence. The tragedy Brynhild (1884), finally, shows the departure from Brandes’s artistic prescriptions to be nearly complete. While Brynhild may séem a drama about problems debated in the 1870s, it is rather, by Paul V. Rubow’s account, a problematic case of superhumans battling society in the mode of Wagner’s theatrical aesthetics. Hans Brix calls Brynhild a post-Romantic drama of ideals, for which Drachmann had paved the way, and Brix claims that its complexity encompasses characterization, pictorial language, dialogue, the role of the choir, and many other technical and substantive elements. While its composition tends to defy logic, the central struggle between Brynhild and Gudrun–to the detriment of their male counterparts Gunnar and Sigurd–is powerful and revealing of a love so uncompromisingly ideal that only death can sée it through. Compared to the heroic sternness of the Norse source material, Gjellerup’s version, according to C. E. Jensen, emphasizes romantic passion; but it also brings the philosophical state of Nirvana to the fore. Ultimately, the will to live succumbs to nothingness, and the individual personality ceases to exist, as Schopenhauer envisioned.
Brynhild is dedicated to Eugenia Gjellerup, and critics agrée that it celebrates both the author’s struggle to win her hand in marriage and the virtuous and monogamous sanctification of holy matrimony to which she (like so many of his female characters) bears witness. The embracement of eternal values and rejection of instant gratification in Brynhild made it “the most significant dramatic work in the grand style by century’s end,” according to Vilhelm Andersen, and Gjellerup never achieved anything else similar to it. The critical reception, by such critics as Carl Behrens, Julius Clausen, and later Rubow, was favorable, although no theatrical performance ever ensued.
While his break with naturalistic realism was now complete, Gjellerup’s formal denouncement of his former associates came upon his return from his 1883 European journey. In En klassisk Maaned: Billeder og Stemninger fra en Grækenlandsrejse (1884, A Classical Month: Images and Poetic Descriptions from a Journey to Gréece) he deals rather straightforwardly with the Grecian leg of the trip, whereas in Vandreaaret: Skildringer og Betragtninger (1885, The Year of Wandering: Depictions and Reflections), in which he treats the remaining sites of his tour, he admits to having lacked a personal center of gravity and a natural sense of balance between conflicting attractions in his intellectual environment. His formal resolution confirms his earlier experience-that his future lies with stylistic monumentality and with actual reality only insofar as it informs a style of this nature. The artistic goal is not an aesthetic affirmation of the momentary, but an ethical-religious striving to move beyond this world and its partisan bickering. Accordingly, he is less enthusiastic about the Italian Renaissance than about idyllic scenes in Switzerland, not to mention the tastes of a pessimism he enjoys in Russia and the near Orient.
In Saint-Just: Historisk Sørgespil i fem Handlinger (1886, Saintjust: Historical Tragedy in Five Acts), a play about Louis Saintjust, Maximilien Robespierre’s incorrigible match in revolutionary zeal, Gjellerup attempted to dress his supreme idealism in historical costume. His failure to do so to the satisfaction of any theater director caused him déeper distress than any of his many other aborted bids for a caréer as playwright. A similar fate befell his dramatic poem Thamyris (1887). Like its precursor, it obstructed the alleged purpose in Vandreaaret to serve art before (cultural) politics. It, too, was art of a second order–literature about literature– and with an incoherent fusion of Nordic Germanic and classical idioms underneath its high and learned style.
Rosenberg sées the hero’s blindness as signifying a denial of this world and insight into one beyond finitude. Buddhist-like elusiveness attached itself to Gréek particulars. The sequel to the poem, called Helikon: Et dramatist Digt (1887, Helikon: A Dramatic Poem), with ingredients of Friedrich Nietzsche and Goethe, and mythological figures Marsyas and Midas as parts of its erudition, affords an even more imaginative confrontation of idealism and realism. No less ambitious than Thamyris, Helikon met with authorial disappointment, as documented by Georg Nørregård, although an abbreviated version was eventually performed at the Kongelige Teater (Royal Theater) in Copenhagen in 1908.
Gjellerup’s next work, En arkadisk Legende (1887, A Legend from Arcadia), is a prose narrative situated in the same Gréek antiquity as Thamyris. In Hagbard og Signe: En erotisk Tragedie i fem Handlinger (1888, Hagbard and Signe: An Erotic Tragedy in Five Acts), written after his marriage to Eugenia Gjellerup and dedicated to her, Gjellerup returns to drama and to the kind of Nordic source material that inspired Brynhild. But his effort to incorporate literary impulses from a “non-historical early Medieval” into difficult ancient and medieval meters failed. And in Bryllupsgaven: Rococo-Komedie fra det galante Sachsen i fem Handlinger (1888, The Wedding Gift: A Rococo Comedy from Gallant Saxony in Five Acts), set in Dresden, he fails to make the rococo elegant and the comedy humorous.
The novel Minna, on the other hand, marks one of Gjellerup’s few popular successes. It, too, takes place in the Dresden area, and its title character is cast in the same mold as Eugenia Gjellerup and the fictive females in her wake. In a conflict between her physical desire for one man and an ethical affinity to the narrator of the novel, Minna’s weakness for the former leads to insanity and death, albeit with the empathy of both narrator and author. Minna may be an anachronism, but the world in which she is doomed is a contemporary one. The work includes clear references to Goethe and Schiller, though the poetic side of the text is not mired in cliché.
In 1889 Gjellerup wrote an essay titled “Schiller, Flaubert, Schandorph, Rudolf Schmidt,” a harsh polemic in defense of Schiller against charges by critic Rudolf Schmidt that Schiller’s later dramas sacrifice quotidian realism for an indistinct idealism. Gjellerup retorted that Schiller always sought to express the general in the individual, but then he went on to say that in Schiller’s work the individual at its best is the typical– or the most déeply humane. The claim to realism is precisely what makes a text by Schiller a valid idealistic construction, according to Gjellerup, who views a text by himself in the same light.
In Min Kjærligheds Bog (1889, My Love Book), a Danish version of Heinrich Heine’s Buck der Lieder (1827, The Book of the Songs), Gjellerup gathered older and new poems around his recurrent love motif. Critic C. E. Jensen compares the collection, with its intended classicism, to “a bouquet of wilted violets.” Most of Gjellerup’s anthologized poems are from this volume, including four lines titled “Et Par” (A Couple). Bordering on the chaotic, love in this poem remains part of a conflicted harmony that gives nightly birth to an ever-recurrent world. The unity of real and ideal, eternal and dynamic is consistent with Gjellerup’s growing interest in Indian philosophy. “Et Par” also alludes to the ideas and féelings associated with music that he explored in 1889 in the leitmotivs of Wagner’s principal work, Der Ring Des Niebelungen (1874, The Ring of the Niebelung). His extensive work on Wagner, which was honored by his being extended an invitation to the Wagner festival in Bayreuth in 1914, includes translations of the Valkyrie parts of Der Ring Des Niebelungen and later of Tristan and Isolde (1912). It is a work related to Gjellerup’s general interest in Norse lore, as demonstrated later in his 1895 translations from Den ældre Eddas Gudesange.
Herman Vandel: Sørgespil i tre Handlinger (1891, Herman Vandel: Tragedy in Thrée Acts; first performed, 1892), like Minna, is about the catastrophic consequences of love gone astray. Herman’s commitment to marry the girl he has seduced at the expense of the choice of his heart is considered immoral and is paid for with suicide. C. E. Jensen compares Gjellerup’s charges against conventional marriage to Søren Kierkegaard’s assault upon the state church. One betrays the absolute idea of marriage; the other, the idea of self-sacrificing Christianity. In Wuthhorn: Sørgespil i fem Handlinger (1893, Wuthhorn: A Tragedy in Five Acts; first performed, 1893) another triangular love drama unfolds on a Swiss mountaintop, whereas Kong Hjarne Skjald: Tragedie i fem Handlinger (1893, King Hjäne Skald: Tragedy in Five Acts; first performed, 1893) is a play about love and war in the mythic past of Denmark; its skaldic rhetoric in iambic verse is both powerful and cumbersome. In En Million: Skuespil i tre Handlinger. Efter Nikolaus Pawlows Novelle (1894, A Million: A Play in Thrée Acts. Based on Nikolaus Pawlow’s Short Story; first performed in Danish as En Million: Skuespil i 3 Handlinger, 1894), initially written in German by Gjellerup with Wilhelm Wolters to earn money and premiered in Berlin, the theme is love and money, while the novel Pastor Mors: En underligHistorie (Pastor Mors: A Strange Story, 1894) is a peculiar tale about young love resurrected in the imagination of an old divinity professor. Unlike the Christian resurrection of the flesh, the professor’s love story is reborn in an incorporeal sphere above and beyond the mundane world of human vanity. An allegorical dissolution of individual mortality, Gjellerup’s learned theological and philosophical text is written on the border between neo-Danish and neo-German spiritual life with an unmistakable leaning away from Lutheran doctrine toward the Buddhistic teachings about Nirvana.
The love triangle in Hans Excellence: Skuespil indledet ved en Efterskrift til mine Drainer (1895, His Excellency: A Play Introduced by a Postscript to My Dramas; first performed, 1895) includes a prominent politician who bestows marital sentiments upon his wife and erotic passion upon his mistress in accordance with Nietzsche’s moral code for the superhuman. Human affairs are once again depicted in high style, yet with realistic settings, and the experimental text is prefaced by a “postscript to my dramas,” in which Gjellerup praises Schopenhauer, whose thinking led him to the Indian and Buddhist teachings for final clarification of his innermost spiritual néeds. Moral superiority is not individualism but religious self-abrogation, as illustrated by Wagner’s musical dramas. C. E. Jensen finds Gjellerup’s moral code religious in spite of all his rebellion and calls it Buddhism interspersed with Christian redemption. Self-assertion and self-denial become one-above the heads of common crowds. And, as Rosenberg writes, with the guidance of Schopenhauer’s philosophy of will as the core principle of life, of suffering as the common state of life, of compassion as the foundation of ethics, and of self-annihilation as liberation, Gjellerup definitively found his way out of the spheres of influence of radical Copenhagen and out of the shadows of Darwin and his philosophical counterpart, Herbert Spencer.
In 1896 Gjellerup published another dramatic love story in prose, Møllen: Roman i fem Bøger (The Mill: A Novel in Five Books; first performed, 1901), written in Dresden but set in the Danish island environment of his youth. The newly widowed miller contemplates marriage to the sister of a religious forester; yet, both the miller and his journeyman are infatuated with the maid of the mill. Suddenly the miller proposes to the maid, but while he is in town to secure royal permission to marry the girl, she enters the mill to flirt and conspire against him with the journeyman. Later he catches them unaware and is able, unnoticed, to arrange for the machinery of the mill to crush them. He then marries the forester’s sister, but, tormented by guilt, he confesses to his crime and dies in prison.
Gjellerup’s combination of Christian and Indian thought is here extended with elements of superstition. Yet, the author still endeavors to reconcile the metaphysical aspects of the novel with its realistic environment, specifically verisimilitude in mill design. The psychological analysis is intimate; the composition is clear and atmospheric; and the mix of natural and supernatural is both mythical and symbolic. While Edvard Brandes rejected the irrational features, Andersen valued that even domestic animals function within the mythological universe in place of gods and demons. Møllen is one of Gjellerup’s memorable accomplishments; it was adapted for both stage and scréen productions.
Gjellerup’s many years in Dresden were marked by solitude and health problems, vacations in the surrounding areas and abroad, and occasional professional visits to Denmark. A few Danish friends and family members dropped by now and then, but the unremarkable daily routines prevailed. Musical events were his preferred entertainment, and he continued with mixed results to pursue the theatrical caréer he felt he had been denied in Denmark. Yet, his output as a German writer was limited chiefly to newspaper articles and German versions of his books, and the kudos he received came from a few critics and academics. Meanwhile, his personal ties to Denmark remained vivid even as his professional and intellectual attachments gradually vanished or soured. An occasional recipient of the Ancherske Travel Stipend, he was awarded a Civil List Pension in 1889. All the same, he was never wealthy.
Mit formentlige Høiforræderi mod det danske Folk (1897, My Alleged High Treason against the Danish People) is an indication of his ambiguous feelings for Denmark; it is a booklet in which he rejects charges leveled against him that he has betrayed his Danish language and culture. While gladly conceding an admiration for such Germans as Otto von Bismarck, he holds the Danish national-liberals responsible for loss of the southern provinces of Denmark and for alienating her German roots.
After the well-crafted story Konvolutten: En graphologisk Studie (1897, The Envelope: A Study in Graphology) came the novel Ved Grændsen (1897, At the Border), which refers in its title not to the contested southern frontier but to the sea border farther east, south of the island of Falster, where Møllen was also set. Idyllic provincial towns and landscapes, viewed through the exilic writer’s nostalgic lens, constitute ties otherwise severed by the contested political border. A drama performed in Copenhagen and called Gift og Modgift: Komedie i fem Akter og paa Vers (1898, Poison and Antidote: A Comedy in Five Acts and in Verse; first performed, 1898) continues Gjellerup’s depictions of love as both confusing and tragic, and a collection of Fabler (1898, Fables) includes a versified story told by Buddha. In Tankelæserinden: Sjællandsk Præstegaardsidyl (1901, The Female Thought-Reader: A Zealand Vicarage Idyll), the author returns to his foster father’s idyllic vicarage of Vallensved for yet another love intrigue and yet another exilic reflection on the land of his youth.
With the exception of the short Elskovsprøven: En Borgscene i Niebelungenvers (1906, The Love Trial: A Castle Scene in Niebelungen Verse), a play in one act and medieval meter set in a castle on the Rhine, the first decade of the 1900s is dominated by Gjellerup’s major Indian works, of which Fabler gave but a simple taste. Offerildene: Et Legendestykke (1903, The Sacrificial Pyres: A Play of Legend; first performed, 1904), based on passages from the Upanishads (treatises that deal with Brahma knowledge), was performed by the Kongelige Teater in Copenhagen and at different locations in Germany. Its lead character is a Vedic-Age Brahman who is summoned by his king in northern India to join a speech competition, which he wins; meanwhile, one of his apprentices, left behind in the master’s house, has won the love of the Brahman’s daughter and eventually obtains the returning Brahman’s position and prize of one thousand white cows as well. Rosenberg mentions how the confrontation of self-worship and worship of the world god in the play maps the only way to redemption, while Rubow more specifically notes that the play remains at the stage of the Upanishads, where it develops the pessimism of late Brahmanism and reminds one of Schopenhauer’s thought, to which Gjellerup had been guided by his German friend Paul Deussen.
In Pilgrimen Kamanita (1906; translated as The Pilgrim Kamanita: A Legendary Romance, 1911), in particular, Gjellerup articulates his Buddhist subject matter in the style of late Jugend or art nouveau, the flowery ornamental style typical of the fin-de-siècle period and its search for artistic freedom. Fritz Paul has demonstrated how this decorative, precious, and heavily symbolic style and esoteric arrangement is in perfect concert with the content of the novel and its combined spirit of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Wagner. In the first part, Kamanita, in his search for the Buddha, meets the elevated one himself but fails to recognize him. Yet, in the process of telling his unfulfilled life story to the goldsmith’s lovable daughter Vasithi, he experiences Buddha’s philosophy. This exuberant and exotic narrative is then deciphered in the pseudophilosophical appendix to the second part in the manner of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. Here the reader learns of Kamanita’s cosmic existence after death; his reencounter on the beaches of the divine Ganges with Vasithi, from whose affection circumstances of life had estranged him; and finally his disappearance into the endless Brahma world of night and grayness.
As opposed to Rubow, who saw Gjellerup’s Indian phase as a self-absorbed abstraction immune to outside influences, Paul points to a process of transformation in which Nietzsche is turned into a Buddhist with a bent for neo-Romantic biology. Incompatible stylistic elements are brought together to render rationally comprehensible a universe composed of esoteric mythology and idioms of decadence. On the one hand, many of these influences are subject to Gjellerup’s biases about the Orient; on the other hand, his appropriations do foreshadow fin-de-siècle and later stylistic movements. His pseudoscientific Jugend style and various exotic forms lend themselves to kitsch but also to modernistic constructs and radical revisions. The reality they elicit lies in the power of an imaginative will whose verbal expression is suggestive rather than referential.
While Gjellerup’s biographer Nørregård déems the Danish version of Kamanita “exceptionally well-written,” Paul considers the German version less disruptive of the aesthetic illusion. But linguistics aside, the core of the story is indisputably the creative nihilism included in the narrator’s dictum that comprehending the downfall of creation enables comprehension of the uncreated. In Den fuldendtes Hustru: Et Legendedrama (1907, The Perfect One’s Wife: A Legend Drama) and the cognate novel Verdensvandrerne: Romandigtning i tre Bøger (1910, The World Wanderers: Novelistic Fiction in Three Books), the soul continues its wanderings toward Nirvana through mystical stages and levels. Rubow finds this drama life-denying in the extreme, like “the idea of life as smoke from a fire that has never burnt,” a nihilism less creative than pure. Rosenberg, by contrast, stresses Gjellerup’s ability to evoke such exotic Indian environs solely on the basis of his imagination.
Subsequent to the Indian decade, Gjellerup returned with new insights to cultural settings closer to home. A small selection of his poetry, Fra Vaar til Høst (From Spring to Autumn), and two epic fragments, Villaen ved Havet/Judas: To Fragmenter (The Villa by the Sea/Judas: Two Fragments), are both from 1910, but his first major attempt to integrate the Nirvana-thought into a familiar milieu is the novel Rudolph Stens Landpraksis (1913, Rudolph Sten’s Country Practice), another intricate love story endowed with an atmosphere of the country culture the author knew from his youth and laden with the philosophizing his readers had come to expect from his later years. Eventually, realism gives way to an impersonal escape from time and space. In the allegedly historical novel Guds Venner (1916, God’s Friends), the Buddhist trend has yielded to Christian sentiments. Finally, in his last book in Danish, Den gyldne Gren (1917, The Golden Bough), Gjellerup, following in the footsteps of James Frazer’s work with the same title, depicts characters and events in classical Rome.
According to Nørregård, Gjellerup’s desire for the Nobel Prize was driven not by claims to honor and fame; rather, he primarily coveted the award as recognition for his artistic form, and only secondly as relief from dire financial need. This depiction is debatable. What is not in dispute is that Gjellerup, years before he actually received the prize, repeatedly bombarded influential authors, critics, and literary scholars (including his cousin, the philosopher Harald Høffding, a Nobel candidate himself) with letters soliciting both their support of his candidacy and various actions on his behalf. To the best of his ability he even sought to promote himself for consideration and did not mince words about those who stood in his way, be they other potential candidates, members of the Swedish Academy and Nobel committee, or people who failed to act in his favor the way he expected. Arguments concerning his literary worthiness do surface in these letters, but a disillusioned craving for monetary rescue was the foremost propellant behind the indigent author’s appeal to his recipients.
Besides Nørregård, both Ahnlund and Claus Jensen have outlined the long road leading from Gjellerup’s first nomination for the prize in 1911 to his receiving it in 1917. In 1911 he and Ernst von der Recke were nominated by professors at Copenhagen University for sharing the prize, which, incidentally, was not the solution Gjellerup (who was also backed by several learned German men of letters) preferred. But again, his financial dearth compelled him to swallow his pride, especially if he were to receive the lion’s share of the total amount in exchange for agréeing to a split prize.
Responding sarcastically to this failed nomination was Georg Brandes, who himself was already considered an important Danish contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature (and who also, behind a mask of indifference, pined for the award). But the idealism that seemed to unite von der Recke with Gjellerup, and both of them with a core stipulation in Alfred Nobel’s will, was conspicuous by its absence in Brandes’s realist and modernist writings as they were understood by the governing bodies behind the prize.
A significant minority nevertheless disagréed with this narrow interpretation of “idealism,” and the Brandes candidacy remained a possibility for years. At the same time the apparent weakness of Gjellerup’s artistic work put his candidacy in jeopardy. At an exilic distance from Danish life and language, yet not entirely adapted to German culture either, Gjellerup, moreover, was in a precarious no-man’s-land position, especially considering the anti-German sentiments in Denmark during World War I. Under the caption: “Danish author Karl Gjellerup travels to Denmark as a German tourist on Swedish money,” a 1917 cartoon caricature depicted a minuscule and bewildered Gjellerup in a Wandervogel outfit, arriving in Denmark and timidly asking a policeman for directions: “Could somevun please show me ze way to ze Dänisch authors’ association?”
Still, for all his bloodless abstractions and stylistic exaggerations, often bordering on the ridiculous, Gjellerup’s work remained unquestionably “idealistic,” even in the Christian sense of the word, after the author had recently revisited Christian positions he had earlier abandoned for excursions into Indian thought and mysticism. Given the insufficient support for Brandes, the proposal of a shared Nobel Prize for Denmark with Gjellerup as one of the recipients picked up momentum, if not immediately. The prizes between 1912 and 1916 (there was no prize in 1914) went to no Danes but to other nationals such as the Swedish author Verner von Heidenstam in 1916.
Both Heidenstam and the 1890s in Swedish literature, which he espoused, were deeply beholden to influences from Gjellerup’s fin-de-siècle style–more déeply beholden than were any Danish writers–and so the elevation of Heidenstam to the Swedish Academy greatly enhanced his Danish role model’s chances for securing the Nobel award.
The problem was Henrik Pontoppidan, the author who had emerged as Gjellerup’s major competition for the prize. Born the same year, these two writers could well have been from different planets. A powerful presence in Danish letters, firmly rooted in its national traditions, and producing the most merciless, yet classical, realism of the age, Pontoppidan was by Danish standards an author head and shoulders above Gjellerup, for whom he, incidentally, harbored tacit but utter contempt.
Yet, Pontoppidan too failed the test of “idealism” as it was implemented by the conservative Swedish Academy members and the Nobel committée. It took a recommendation of Gjellerup and Pontoppidan (in the event Georg Brandes proved unacceptable to the Swedes) by the foremost historian of Danish literature, Professor Vilhelm Andersen, to sway the historian Harald Hjärne, the leading member of the Swedish opposition to Pontoppidan, to revise his position, which he did only partially, and chiefly under the influence of Andersen’s recent monograph on Pontoppidan. In those days a single work by a contending author was usually the basis for the Nobel award, and Pontoppidan’s latest opus, the novel sequence De Dødes Rige (1912–1916, The Realm of the Dead), was the only one that Hjäne would narrowly grant his idealistic approval (Gjellerup’s counterpart, by his own account, being most likely the tragedy Brynhild).
Eventually, the compromise, or shared award to Pontoppidan and Gjellerup, was hammered out, not least because it also showed some consideration for Brandes, who would now receive the signal that while he himself might not pass idealistic muster, he could at least take comfort in the fact that it took two authors to counterbalance him. It was, altogether, an emergency solution and a tricky balancing act that left Gjellerup with half of the 1917 Nobel Prize in Literature. In fact, his belated luck probably also rested upon the death in 1917 of Jakob Knudsen, a more profound conservative idealist than Gjellerup, and one with strong support at least in the Nobel committee.
Not only did the prize come too late to buttress Gjellerup’s artistic ego or his finances, but also the reactions to his award were mostly critical reminders of his strained artistic grappling with a versatility of philosophical outlooks and symbolic endeavors. Unlike his corecipient Pontoppidan, he did not fare well in his own times, nor has he since. Hence, his final status as Nobel laureate came to symbolize his troubled and defiant life and work.
In 1919 and 1920 two more books by Gjellerup appeared in Germany. Das heiligste Tier: Ein Elysisches Fabelbuch (1919, The Holiest Animal: An Elysian Book of Fables) is built on animal legends and myths with tributes to Buddha, and the posthumous Madonna delta laguna: Eine venezianische Künstlergeschicte (1920, Madonna of the Lagoon: The Story of a Venetian Artist) is a narrative with traits of comedy and Venetian atmosphere. These late works of fiction were followed by another posthumous publication in German, Karl Gjellerup, der Dichter und Denker: Sein Leben in Selbsterzeugnissen und Briefen (1921, 1922), Gjellerup’s autobiography as artist and thinker, supplemented with a selection of his letters and an introduction by his Danish friend Rosenberg.
This finale is indicative of Gjellerup’s development. He always relished strains of German culture, but after moving to Dresden his immersion approached identification. Most of his books were written in both languages, often in German first, if not in German only. During World War I he even wrote the bulk of his large correspondence in German in order to accommodate his censors. Meanwhile, the war broke his spirit. By the end of his life, his defiance had merged with despair, and he often wrote home to Denmark that his authorial ambitions had come to naught. The thought of death became increasingly comforting to his pride, and he died on 11 October 1919, about a year after the armistice. His grave is in Dresden.
In a letter from 1880, pastor Fibiger predicted that his adopted son would return to Christianity after his radical experiments. The pastor was proven both right and wrong. Religious fervor did fill his son’s personality, but with thoughts and sentiments that tended toward eliminating the notion of personhood as an integral whole. Karl Gjellerup’s artistic gifts and priorities have been debated by critics, as have his political attitudes; yet, there is no denying that as a writer he crossed cultural borders and served as an intermediary between the traditional and the modern. From his position at the margins of modern letters in both Denmark and Germany, he made his mark on a few notable Scandinavians at center stage–for example, Swedish Nobel laureate Heidenstam and Danish Nobel nominee Valdemar Rørdam.
“Karl Gjellerup: Nogle Breve [to William Behrend],” Tilskueren, 2, no. 36 (1919): 407–420.
Georg Nørregård, Karl Gjellerup–en biografi (Copenhagen: C. A. Reitzel, 1988).
Claes Ahlund, “Karl Gjellerup: Germanernes Lærling (1882),” in Den skandinaviska universitetsromanen 1877–1890 (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1990), pp. 74–85;
Knut Ahnlund, “Ett delat Nobelpris,” in Diktarliv i Norden: Litterära essäer (Stockholm: Brombergs, 1981), pp. 248–279;
Vilhelm Andersen, “Firsernes Folk,” in Illustreret dansk Litteraturhistorie, 4, no. 2 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1925), pp. 376–393;
Heinrich Anz, “Ein Literarischer Grenzgänger im Finde siècle: Karl Gjellerup zwischen dänischer und deutscher Literatur,” in Kulturelle Identiáten in derdustchen Literatur des 20. fahrhunderts, edited by Heinrich Deterring and Herbert Krämer (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1998), pp. 21–33;
Anz, ‘“Rastloses Schaffen in zwei Sprachen’: Karl Gjellerup (1857–1919) im interkulturellen Kon-text,” in Blickwinkel: Kulturelle Optik und interkulturelle Gegenstandskonstitution, edited by Alois Wierlacher ad George Stötzel (Munich: Ludicium, 1996), pp. 489–502;
Herman Bang, “Karl Gjellerup,” in his Realisme og Realister (Copenhagen: Schubothe, 1879), pp. 97–113;
Edvard Brandes and Georg Brandes, Brevveksling med nordiske Forfattere og Videnskabsmand, volumes 1–6, 8, edited by Morten Borup, with the assistance of Francis Bull and John Landquist (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1939–1942);
Hans Brix, “Karl Gjellerup,” in his Danmarks Digtere (Copenhagen: Aschehoug, 1951), pp. 441–445;
Georg Buchreitz, “Europæiske paavirkninger paa Karl Gjellerups forfatterskab til 1900,” Edda, 30 (1930): 400–433;
Kjell Espmark, Det litterära Nobel priset: Principer och värderingar bakom besluten (Stockholm: Norstedts, 1986); translated as The Nobel Prize in Literature: A Study of the Criteria behind the Choices (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991);
Johan Fjord Jensen, “Karl Gjellerup–poetisk realisme,” in his Turgenjev i dansk åndsliv (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1961), pp. 222–223, 235–252;
Vridhagiri Ganeshan, Das Indienbild deutscher Dichter urn, 1900: Dauthendey, Bonsels, Mauthner, Gjellerup, Hermann Keyserling und Stefan Zweig: Ein Kapitel deutschindischer Geistesbeziehungen imfrühen 20. fahrhundert (Bonn: Bouvier Verlag Herbert Grundmann, 1975), pp. 188–233;
Constrantin Grossman, “Karl Gjellerup: Ein Gedankenblatt,” Dreiundzwanzigstes fahrbuch der Schopenhauer-Gesellschaft 23 (1936): 249–268;
Poul Houe, “Begyndelsen på enden: Karl Gjellerups debutroman(er),” in On the Threshold: New Studies in Mordic Literature, edited by Janet Garton and Michael Robinson (Norwich, U.K.: Norvik Press, 2002), pp. 144–151;
HOue, “Det epokaltypiske graænsetilfæIde [Review of Olaf C. Nybo, Karl Gjellerup],” Nordica, 20 (2003): 344–350;
G. E. Jensen, “Karl Gjellerup,” in Vore Dages Digtere: Karakteristiker (Copenhagen: Det nordiske Forlag, 1898), pp. 1–16;
Claus Jensen, “Karl Gjellerup and Henrrik Pontoppidan (Literature 1917): An Odd Couple,” in Neighbouring Nobel: The History of the Nobel Prizes, edited by Henry Nielsen and Keld Nielsen (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2001), pp. 147–206;
Marius Kristensen, “Karl Gjellerup,” in Hovedtræk af nordisk Digtning i Nutiden, edited by Ejnar Skovrup (Copenhagen: Aschehoug, 1920), pp. 103–109;
Sven Møller Kristensen, Impressionismen i dansk prosa 1870–1900 (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1965);
Olaf C. Nybo, Karl Gjellerup–ein literarischer Grenzgänger des Fin-de-siècle (Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovac, 2002);
Fritz Paul, “Gjellerup und die Aufwertung des Jugendstils,” Danske Studier, 66 (1971): 81–90;
P. A. Rosenberg, “Karl Gjellerup,” Ord och Bild, 27 (1918): 218–226;
Paul V. Rubow, “Herman Bangs Samtidige: Karl Gjellerup,” in his Herman Bang og flere kristiske Studier (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1958), pp. 79–86;
Rudolf Schmidt, “Et Gjensyn,” Literatur og Kritik, 1 (1889): 288–296;
Kalle Sorainen, “Gjellerup och Höffding,” Orbis Litterarum, 6 (1948): 115–132;
Hakon Stangerup, “Karl Gjellerup,” in Danmarks store Digtere, volume 2, edited by Stangerup (Odense: Skandinavisk Bogforlag, 1944), pp. 73–82;
Stangerup, Kulturkampen, 2 volumes (Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1946);
Nicolae Zberae, “K. Gjellerup: A Master of Expression of Indian Thought,” Indo-Asian Culture, 19, no. 1 (1970): 30–33.
The major collections of Karl Gjellerup’s letters and manuscripts are at the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen and at the Sächsischen Landesbibliothek in Dresden.