Goldschmidt, Meir Aron,
GOLDSCHMIDT, MEIR ARON,
GOLDSCHMIDT, MEIR ARON , (1819–1887), Danish novelist, political writer, and journalist. Born in Vordingborg, Zealand, Goldschmidt was sent to Copenhagen for a year as a child and was impressed by the Jewish life of the capital. Although he matriculated in 1836, religious prejudice prevented him from studying medicine. He accordingly turned to journalism and in 1837 founded a liberal provincial weekly, Nestved Ugeblad (later renamed Sjœllandsposten), whose policy brought him a heavy fine and a year's censorship. He later moved to Copenhagen and in 1840 founded Corsaren, a successful satirical weekly with a radical outlook. The paper attacked Denmark's conservative establishment, especially the absolute monarchy and the powerful civil service. Goldschmidt began his literary career with the novel En Jøde (1845; The Jews of Denmark, 1852). This told the story of a Danish Jew whose break with traditional Orthodoxy provokes his father's curse. His romance with a Christian girl ends unhappily and the hero ultimately becomes a moneylender. En Jøde contains some picturesque descriptions of Jewish customs and festivals, as does the story Aron of Esther in the collection Fortœllinger ("Tales," 1846). During the years 1847–59 Goldschmidt published the periodical Nord og Syd, which largely consisted of his own articles on literature, theater, art, and politics. After the failure of the magazine Hjemme og Ude, which appeared briefly in 1861, he moved to England, but returned to Denmark in 1863, resolved to abandon his political involvements. The central figure of his long novel Hjemløs (1853–57), which he himself adapted into English as Homeless, or a Poet's Inner Life (1861), is a Danish gentile, but Goldschmidt introduces a cultured English Jew who teaches the hero that happiness and misery are balanced in each person's life and that men's sins must be atoned for on earth. The novelist called this ethical system "Nemesis," and it dominates his later works. These include two novels, Arvingen (Eng., The Heir, both 1865), and Ravnen ("The Raven," 1867); three Jewish short stories, "Maser" (1858), "Avrohmche Nattergal" (1871; English version in Denmark's Best Stories, 1928), and "Levi og Ibald" (1883); and Livserindringer og Resultater ("Memoirs and Results," 2 vols., 1877). He was an outstanding storyteller and the worldly yet pious and decent hero of his stories, Simon Levy, is one of the outstanding figures of Danish fiction.
G. Brandes, Samlete Skrifter, 2 (1900), 447–68; H. Kyrre, M.A. Goldschmidt (Danish, 1919); Dansk Biografisk Leksikon, 8 (1936).
[Frederik Julius Billeskov-Jansen]