The literary culture of the Scandinavian countries dates back about one millennium, the Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish languages having developed on separate paths from the original Germanic root from about the ninth century. With rare exceptions, biblical and other Hebraic influences did not make an appearance in works by Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish writers until the Renaissance, and the contribution of Jewish authors began only very much later, from about the middle of the 19th century.
biblical and hebraic influences
Probably the earliest work of biblical inspiration written by a Dane was the Hexaëmeron, a 12-part, 8,000-line neo-Latin poem on the Creation by Anders Sunesøn (1164–1228), a Danish archbishop who studied in Oxford, Bologna, and Paris. It was not until the Lutheran Reformation in the early 16th century, however, that the impact of the Bible was felt on Danish language and literature. The first complete translation that has survived, the King Christian iii Bible (1550), a literary monument, was continually revised and modernized until 1931 and was long the sole cultural source of the ordinary Dane. Since Christianity was, until the 19th century, the decisive cultural factor in Denmark, the Danish language and outlook were greatly influenced by stories, legends, ideas, and idioms drawn from the Old Testament; more than 300 familiar quotations in the everyday language, as well as about half of the "Christian" names, are of biblical origin. As in several other countries, Latin was the main literary language of the 17th century; several authors dealt with biblical themes in accordance with the ethical approach of Danish Protestantism, although these works were inaccessible to the unlearned majority of the population. Outstanding among these books was another Hexaëmeron (1661), composed in Alexandrine verse by Anders Christensen Arrebo, known as the "father of Danish poetry." Arrebo's epic, begun in 1630 and published only years after his death, was written in Danish. It was a free reworking of the French Protestant *Du Bartas' Creation epic, La Semaine, muting the more pagan elements of the original, and is generally regarded as the first milestone in the elevation of the Danish language to a vehicle of lofty poetic expression. Arrebo is also remembered as the author of a verse translation of Psalms into Danish (1623).
From the mid-19th century, several writers used biblical themes in drama and fiction. Frederik Paludan-Müller, an eminent poet and bishop, wrote Abels død (1844), and his example was followed by other Danish authors. Among later works on biblical subjects were Sven Lange's drama, Samson og Dalila (1909), Jeremias (1916), a play by Knud Gjørup; Kaj *Munk's drama, En idealist (1928; Herod the King, 1947), Harald Tandrup's novel Profeten Jonas privat (1937; Jonah and the Voice, 1937), Poul *Borchsenius' Stjernesønnen (1952; Son of a Star, 1960), a novel about Bar Kokhba; and a trilogy about Moses by Poul Hoffmann (1961–63).
the image of the jew
Perhaps the first writer in Denmark to introduce contemporary Jewish characters in his works was Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754), a pioneer of modern Danish literature. Holberg lived at a time when few Jews resided in Copenhagen, but nevertheless he encountered them during his travels in Germany and Holland. The Jewish types in his comedies are mainly theatrical figures: moneylenders, peddlers, the "Jewish priest" (complete with long beard, caftan, and fur hat); their "Jewish" language was a conglomeration of Danish and German. Nevertheless, Holberg showed a more scientific interest in the Jews, publishing a sympathetic historical study, Den jødiske historie (1742). Holger Paulli (b. 1644), who was influenced by pietist expectations, believed in the Jewish return to the Holy Land as a condition for the second coming of Jesus. One of the Christian forerunners of Zionism, he published books calling on the European monarchs to conquer Palestine so that the Jews might regain it as their state. In his novel, Rigsdaler sedlens Haendelser ("Events of a Dollar Note," 1789–93), Peter Andreas Heiberg projects a mixed image of the Jew, some being only interested in making money; but in Kina-Farere ("The Chinese Clippers," 1792) one Jew is honorable, his virtue promoting the play's dénouement. The poet Jens Immanuel Baggesen visited the Frankfurt ghetto, and in Labyrinthen ("The Labyrinth," 1792ff.), a book of travel, he presents a sympathetic picture of Jewish misery in their cramped quarter. Baggesen also wrote a statement warmly supporting Christian Wilhelm von *Dohm's book in favor of Jewish emancipation. In the early 19th century, Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger, the "father of modern Danish literature," describes in his fairy tale play Aladdin (1805) a Jew who covets gold and hates Christians; but his Sanct Hans Aftenspil ("Midsummernight's Play," 1802) contains idyllic pictures of an old Jewish juggler and a Jewish boy in a market place.
The year 1813 was that of a notorious Jewish literary feud which began when a hack writer, Thomas Thaarup, translated Friedrich Buchholtz' violently antisemitic German book, "Moses und Jesus." The preface to this work claimed that "selfishness, indolence, and ferocity have been distinctive characteristics of the Jews from their very origin." Its publication gave rise to an uproar, and many writers and public figures in Denmark took sides in the controversy. Significant pleas in favor of the Jews came from poets of note such as Jens Baggensen and Steen Steensen Blicher, the latter maintaining that emancipation might restore dignity to the Jews. Blicher's short story "Jøderne på Hald" ("The Jews of the Mason Hald") portrays two sympathetic Jewish brothers named Lima and a young girl named Sulamith.
During the first half of the 19th century, the "Golden Age" of Danish literature, Jewish characters frequently appeared in Danish works. Thomasine Gyllembourg's short story Jøden ("The Jew," 1836) presents as its hero a "Nathan the Wise" similar to *Lessing's nobleminded Jew. Her son, Johan Ludvig Heiberg, wrote a successful comedy, Kong Salomon og Jørgen Hattemager ("King Solomon and George the Hatter," 1825), in which he wittily portrayed Solomon Goldkalb as a goodnatured, amusing character. Heiberg married a talented actress, Johanne Luise Pätges, whose mother was Jewish. Positive Jewish figures also appeared in the works of Hans Christian Andersen, the author of world-famous children's stories and fairy tales. In his novel Kun en Spillemand ("Only a Fiddler," 1837), the Jewess Naomi is the fiery, passionate heroine, and in Denjødiske Pige ("The Jewish Girl") Sarah remains loyal to her Jewish faith for the sake of her dead mother. Andersen also wrote a touching poem, "Rabbi Meyer." The *Wandering Jew theme also attracted several Danish poets – Bernhard Severin Ingemann, Frederik Paludan-Müller (Ahasverus, 1854), and Jens Christian Hostrup. The liberal Christian author and scholar Nicolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig wrote some 1,500 religious poems and hymns, many biblical in tone, in which he stresses the importance to world history of "the Hebrew people."
By the beginning of the 20th century, the Danish Jew had acquired a large measure of "naturalization" in drama and fiction. Thus the brothers Carl Edvard and Georg *Brandes appeared in Sven Lange's novel, De første kampe (1925), which was mainly concerned with the elder, Georg. A work of greater importance was Nobel prizewinner Henrik Pontoppidan's vast eight-volume novel Lykke-Per ("Lucky Peter," 1898–1904), which, with extraordinary detail and precision, conveyed the author's pessimistic view of contemporary Danish society through the Salomons, a middle-class Copenhagen family. This novel contains a moving description of the learned Aron Israel, whose "soul was as pure as his coat was dirty," and an admiring portrayal of Georg Brandes. Later, Jews also figured in works by Kaj Munk, Poul Borchsenius, Aage Bertelsen, and Sivert Gunst, whose Hr. Menachem og Hans Hus (1950) describes Jewish life in Copenhagen at the beginning of the 19th century. However, most of the 20th-century Danish literature dealing with Jewish themes was produced by Jewish authors.
the jewish contribution
From the mid-19th century, Jews began to play an increasingly important role in Danish literary life. Among the pioneers were the converts Nicolai Abrahams and Henrik *Hertz; the Brandes brothers; and the novelist Meïr Aron *Goldschmidt, who frequently returned to Jewish social themes. These were followed by the playwright and novelist Poul Levin; Henri *Nathansen, who also dealt with the problem of Jewish survival in an alien environment; and Louis Levy. During the first three decades of the 20th century, Simon Koch also gained some distinction as a writer of fiction with novels such as Digteren (1907). Writers best known for their journalism included Herman Bing and Edvard Brandes, two of the three co-founders of the leading newspaper Politiken; Gottlieb Siesby; Valdemar Koppel; and Peter Nansen, a grandson of Mendel Levin *Nathanson, editor of the Berlingske Tidende, all of whose descendants were, however, converts to Christianity.
The Nazi occupation of Denmark, the famous rescue operation across the Øresund conducted by the Danish resistance, and the deportation of most of the Jews who remained behind were events that left their mark on postwar Danish literature. They inspired a number of books by younger authors, such as Hanne Kaufmann and Ralph Oppenhejm, and works by a Polish immigrant writer, Pinhas *Welner, which were translated from Yiddish and enjoyed considerable success in Danish editions.
biblical and hebraic influences
In Sweden, as in other Christian lands, the Reformation inspired the first complete Swedish translation of the Old and New Testaments, which had previously been undertaken only in part, and from the Vulgate. The lead was taken by two Lutheran churchmen, Olaus Petri (1493–1552) and Laurentius Andraeae (c. 1475–1552) who, having no knowledge of Hebrew, based their work on Martin *Luther's German version. With minor stylistic changes this Gustavus i ("Gustaf Vasa") Bible remained Sweden's authorized version until 1917, when a new translation received royal sanction. Olaus Petri was also the reputed author of an early play on an apocryphal theme, Tobiae Commedia (1550), the earliest known drama in Swedish to have survived. Another early 16th-century Reformation drama was the anonymous Holofernes och Judit. The portion of the Old Testament whose influence is most evident in Swedish culture is the Book of Psalms. Many hymns of the Swedish church are no more than paraphrases of Psalms, retaining much of the Bible's phraseology. The most important poetical work of biblical inspiration written in the 17th century was the epic Guds Werck och Hwila ("God's Work and Rest," 1725) by Bishop Haquin Spegel, a gigantic composition using the Creation story as a basis and inspired by the French epic of Du Bartas. Two other biblical epics of the same era were Bibliske Werlden ("The Biblical World," ed. by J. Reenstierna, 1687) by Samuel Columbus, a series of biblical tales from the Creation to the Last Judgment; and Biblisk Quinnospegel ("The Biblical Women's Mirror") by Olaf Kolmodin, a succession of monologues by famous women of the Bible. A very different use of the Bible was made by scholars of the patriotic "Gothic" trend, who set out to prove the antiquity and glory of Swedish history. This movement reached its peak in the Atlantica of Olaus Rudbeck, who adapted the stories of the Flood and the Tower of Babel to fit his assertions.
The 18th-century Enlightenment in Sweden brought with it skeptical and critical views of the Scriptures. Not daring to attack the New Testament, radical authors chose the Old Testament as their target. The "singing poet" Carl Mikael Bellman wrote a series of drinking songs on biblical themes, more merry than blasphemous, taking care to select the more colorful stories, such as Lot and his daughters, Joseph and Potiphar's wife, Esther and Ahasuerus, and, most famous of all, Noah as the inventor of wine. A favorite episode taken from the Apocrypha was that of Susanna and the Elders, on which Jacob Wallenberg wrote a play (1778). However, the most celebrated Swedish authors of the age did not share this attitude to the Bible. The mystic and visionary Emanuel Sweden-borg used biblical material in his construction of the spiritual world; one of his works, De cultu et amore Dei (1745), is a very subjective paraphrase of the Genesis and Eden story. Linnaeus (Carl von Linné), the architect of botanical systems and a keen-sighted traveler, was a believer in universal Divine retribution. He expounded his creed in Nemesis Divina, in which he elaborated the biblical doctrine that sons are punished for their father's sins, and even quoted a talmudic parable on the theme. Among those who had a sense for the sublime in biblical poetry was the Orientalist Johan Adam Tingstadius, who, in preparation for a complete new edition of the Bible, published translations from the original sources of some lyrical portions (Song of Songs, part of Psalms, etc.). Although his works did not influence the poetess Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht's ode based on a passage from Exodus, he may well have inspired Johan Henric Kellgren's Den nya skapselsen eller inbillningens värld ("The New Creation, or the World of Imagination," 1789), the first major romantic poem in Swedish. Of the later romantic poets, two were especially inspired by the Bible. Archbishop Johan Olof Wallin was the principal editor of Svenska psalmboken (1819) and its major contributor; his hymns won him the nickname of "The Northern Harp of David." Erik Johan Stagnelius created a personal religious mythology from biblical, Platonic, gnostic, and Manichean elements, and was perhaps also influenced by *Milton's Paradise Lost, which by then had appeared in Swedish translation. He published a volume of lyrics, Liljor i Saron ("Lilies of Sharon," 1821).
Toward the middle of the 19th century, the liberal author Abraham Viktor Rydberg wrote a pamphlet against Lutheran orthodoxy, Bibelns lära om Kristus (1862), which shows knowledge of the messianic ideas of the Second Temple period and a profound respect and love for the Scriptures, although he did not accept their sanctity. In his cantata for the Uppsala University Jubilee, the desert wanderings of the Israelites symbolize mankind's striving. An amusing product of amateur Bible research may later be seen in a story about Moses, Jahves eld ("Jehovah's Fire," 1918) written by the skeptic Hjalmar Emil Fredrik Söderberg.
The works of the outstanding writer of the naturalist generation, August Strindberg, were steeped in the language of the Bible. He eagerly exploited the Bible to develop his favorite themes: the struggle between the sexes (the Fall, Samson and Delilah); Man's struggle with God, (one part of his Legender (1898) is titled "Jacob Wrestles"); and the class struggle (his autobiographical Tjänsteqvinnans son ("The Bondwoman's Son," 1886), alludes to the story of Ishmael and Hagar). Toward the end of his life, Strindberg studied Hebrew and speculated about its origin and relationship to other languages. In the late 19th century, the new romantic trend was also attracted to the Old Testament. Gustaf Fröding wrote exquisite poems on biblical themes; others of a naively rustic type, ranging from the humorous to the sublime, were composed by Erik Axel Karl-felt and Selma Lagerlöf, who undertook a cruise to Egypt and Palestine and published Jerusalem (2 vols., 1901–02), a novel about a group of Swedish peasants, who, prompted by religious yearnings, emigrate to the Holy Land. Selma Lagerlöf's work had been anticipated by Fredrika Bremer's account of a visit to Palestine in about 1861.
From the early 20th century, fewer biblical themes appeared in Swedish literature and, on the whole, New Testament subjects were preferred. The works of the Nobel prizewinner Pär Fabian Lagerkvist exemplify, in various novels loosely connected with the Christian gospels (Barabbas, 1950; Sibyllan, 1956, Mariamne, 1967), the non-believer's conflict with a faith he cannot share. However, the Book of Job was the inspiration for Karin Boye's unfinished cantata, De sju dödssynderna ("The Seven Deadly Sins," 1941), which deals with the problem of theodicy. The figure of Job also attracted the Finno-Swedish poet Rabbe Arnfinn Enckell, author of a poetic dialogue between Job and a star. An interesting work dealing with the same issues was Kains memoaren (Eng., Testament of Cain, 1967) by Lars Johan Wictor Gyllensten, which displays a knowledge not only of the Bible, but also of some tales of midrashic origin. Another 20th-century work was Olov Hart-mann's modern miracle play, Profet och timmerman ("Prophet and Timber-Cutter," 1954). Biblical themes come into strong focus in the works of artist Bo Beskow (1906–1989), who in his old age turned his attention from the canvas and instead clothed various biblical scenes in words rather than color. He published Och vattnet stod på jorden ("And the Waters Covered the Earth") in 1978, followed in 1980 by Rösten är Jakobs ("The Voice of Jacob") and Isebel in 1982. His last work, published in 1984, was Solmannen ("The Sun Man"), which was a story about Samson.
Marianne Fredriksson (1927– ) wrote several novels based on the stories of Genesis: Evas bok ("The Book of Eva") in 1980, Kains bok ("The Book of Cain") in 1981, and Noreas saga ("Norea's Saga") in 1986, all of them showing a remarkable gift for bringing biblical characters to life in contemporary times. Fredriksson also wrote Simon och ekarna ("Simon and the Oaks") in 1985, a postwar story set in Göteborg, about an adopted Jewish boy who knows nothing about his origins.
Sven Delblanc (1935–1992) was a highly productive author whose 1983 book Jerusalems natt ("A Night in Jerusalem") portrays Josephus Flavius and his thoughts on the situation in Jerusalem during a highly volatile period of the Roman occupation. Torgny Lindgren (1938– ) wrote a highly appreciated biblical account of King David's marriage to Batsheva in a book entitled Bat Seba (1984).
the image of the jew
In older Swedish literature, the figure of the Jew was entirely based on traditional Christian clichés, as, for example, in Passionstankar, a poem about the Passion by Jacob Frese (1690–1729). The early Jewish settlers attracted scant notice in Sweden at the end of the 18th century, though an eloquent speech in parliament, favoring their admission, was made by pastor Anders Chydenius. The first important literary portrait of a Jew occurs in Drottningens juvelsmycke ("The Queen's Diadem," 1834) by Carl Jonas Love Almqvist, whose romantic novel includes a Jewish character of the traditionally negative type. A very different treatment was given to the Jewish family in Viktor Rydberg's Den siste atenaren ("The Last Athenian," 1859), a historical novel set in the era of Julian the Apostate, which violently criticizes the traditional idealization of the early Christians. The characters in this work include a young Jewess who is seduced by a heathen, and a tolerant young rabbi who, by a curious anachronism, is said to be an expert in the Kabbalah. Rydberg was also continually fascinated by the Wandering Jew, who appears in several of his poems (e.g., Prometeus och Ahasverus, 1877). Other Swedish authors who developed the same motif were Strindberg, Gustaf Fröding, Oscar Ivar *Levertin, Per Hallström (Ahasverus, 1908), Bo Hjalmar Bergman, Sigfrid Lindström, Pär Lagerkvist, (Ahasverus död, 1960) and, especially, Gösta Oswald, whose Christinalegender ("Legends about Christina") also deals with this theme.
A literary interest in the Jews was reawakened in the 1880s under the impact of rising antisemitism in Germany and of the radical movements of the time. The Jew was seen either as the cynical, rootless radical or as the "herald of a new age." The eminent Danish critic Georg Brandes became the prototype for both. In his play John Ulfstjerna (1907), Tor Harald Hedberg portrayed the revolutionary Jew as an intriguer; yet many Jewish intellectuals with more moderate and patriotic views scarcely accorded with this image. Strindberg, as always, was ambivalent, presenting totally contrasting pictures. In his novel Röda rummet ("The Red Room," 1879) and the pamphlet Det nya riket ("The New Kingdom," 1882) he wittily caricatured unsympathetic Jews; but elsewhere, as in the chronicle play Gustav Vasa (1899), he introduced a venerable Jewish patriarch from Lübeck, a complete anachronism in 16th-century Sweden. The playwright and novelist Hjalmar Frederik Elgérus Bergman displayed a great interest in the Jews, having made the acquaintance of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe while in Berlin. In his masterly play Patrasket (1928), the Jew is represented as the man of imagination, and the author's use of comedy conceals the real tragedy.
There have been few aggressive antisemites among Swedish writers of the 20th century, but two of the most prominent were the poet and essayist Vilhelm Ekelung and the novelist Agnes von Krusenstjerna, whose cycle Fröknarna von Pahlen ("The Von Pahlen Women," 7 vols., 1930–35), contains some viciously anti-Jewish portraits and diatribes. On the other hand, two conservative authors, pro-German and even sympathetic toward the Hitler regime (though not themselves antisemitic), were among the first Swedes to discuss Zionist pioneering in Ereẓ Israel: the explorer Sven Hedin, author of the travel book Jerusalem (1918), and the literary historian Fredrik Böök (1883–1961), who wrote the remarkable Resa till Jerusalem ("Journey to Jerusalem," 1925) and attended the opening ceremony of The Hebrew University.
The Nazi persecution of the Jews is reflected in the works of the 1930s and 1940s. Among the poets who expressed anger and grief were Be Bergman and Arvid Mörne; novelists who dealt with the theme included Josef Kjellgren, in Guldkedjan ("The Golden Chain," 1940), and Eyvind Johnson in his Krilon-Trilogie (1941–43). Most deeply incensed was the half-German anti-Nazi Arvid Brenner (Fritz Helge Heerberger), who took refuge in Sweden. His novel Kompromiss (1934) deals with the Nazi rise to power: Ny vardag ("A New Weekday," 1936) and En dag som andra ("A Day Like Any Other") are concerned with refugee life in Sweden. After World War ii, the surviving victims of Hitler's regime became a conventional literary type, and symbolic of the neutral, well-meaning Swede's bad conscience. Tvärbalk ("Cross Beam," 1963) by Sivar Arnér concerns a Swede who exchanges his frigid wife for a Jewess whose life was shattered by her treatment in a Nazi concentration camp. A similar theme is developed in Legionärerna ("The Legionaries") by Per-Olov Enquist, which also deals with the negative Swedish policies toward Jewish refugees after the war.
Eyvind Johnson (1900–1976) is remarkable for being a non-Jewish Swede with deep and accurate insight into the tribulations faced by the decimated Jewish survivors of Hitler's war of annihilation. His Molnen over Metapontion ("The Clouds over Metapontion," 1957) and Favel, ensam ("Favel All Alone," 1968) reflect acute understanding of the situation faced by the remnants of Jewish Europe.
Artur Lundkvist (1906–1991) wrote two historical novels, Tvivla korsfarare ("Think Again, Crusader," 1972) and Slavar i Särkland ("Slaves in Särkland," 1975), featuring many Jewish characters and highlighting the fruitful exchanges between cultures over the ages. Kenne Fant (1923– ) wrote R. En dokumentär roman ("R.: A Documentary Novel," 1988) about Raoul *Wallenberg. Olle Hedberg (1899–1974) wrote Ut med blondinerna ("Out with the Blondes") in 1939, a stinging satire that ridiculed the Nazi race laws of contemporary Germany. Bengt Ek (1917–1990) wrote a novel for teenagers, published in 1981, titled Hos morfar i Getapulien ("Life with Grandpa in Goat-Land"). It is a warm, humorously related story about two Jewish boys from Berlin who are sent by their Swedish mother to their grandfather in Sweden to escape the hardships in the aftermath of World War i. Jan Gehlin (1922– ) served for many years as chair of the Swedish Authors' Association. The son of famous artist Esther Henriques, and thus a scion of one of the oldest Jewish families in Scandinavia, Gehlin wrote two partly autobiographical novels, Enskilt område ("Private Property," 1949) and Gränstrakter ("Borderlands," 1953), to counter the evils of Nazism and persecution of Jews. Paul Andersson (1930–1976) published a collection of poems in 1956 entitled Judiska motiv ("Jewish Subjects"), the first Swede after Ragnar Josephson to publish verse on a Jewish theme. Per Ahlmark (1939– ), a former member of the Swedish Riksdag or Parliament, also led the Swedish Liberal Party for three years and served as Sweden's deputy prime minister. Fired by a deep interest in Jewish subjects, he published his first collection of poems, Flykter ("Escapes") in 1985. In 1991 he worked together with Lilian Edström on the publication of Yehuda *Amichai's Hebrew poems in Swedish, titled Bombens diameter ("The Bomb's Diameter"), followed in 1993 by Det eviga hatet: Om nynazism, anti-semitism och Radio Islam ("The Eternal Hatred: On Neo-Nazism, Antisemitism and Radio Islam"). Following a host of publications during the 1990s, Per Ahlmark released Det är demokratin, dumbom! ("It's Democracy, Stupid!") in 2004, a scathing criticism of the world's indifference to the plight of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein and the lessons to be learned from not speaking out for democracy and freedom.
[Viveka Heyman /
Ilya Meyer (2nd ed.)]
the jewish contribution
Jews began to play an important part in Sweden's literary life only from the last decades of the 19th century, although after the 1850s Rosa Warrens was active as a poetess and translator. The major creative author was Oskar Ivar Levertin, some of whose verse and prose works dealt with themes of Jewish interest (Kung Salomo och Morolf, 1905). His contemporary, the popular novelist Sophie Elkan, accompanied Selma Lagerlöf on her tour of the Near East and published an account entitled Drömmen om Österlandet ("The Dream of the Eastern Land," 1904). However, the major Jewish contribution was really in literary history and criticism, a field in which Johan Henrik Emil *Schück, Karl Johan *Warburg, and Martin *Lamm all excelled. An important contribution was also made by members of the eminent *Josephson family, headed by the painter Ernst Abraham *Josephson who published some poems and who appears in a novel by Strindberg. The art historian Ragnar Josephson (1891–1966) was a successful dramatist and, in his early period, published Judiska dikter (1916; revised 1943), a collection of poems on Jewish themes. Together with Sweden's chief rabbi Marcus *Ehrenpreis, he also issued translations of modern Hebrew verse. His nephew, the actor Erland Josephson (1923– ), starred in plays by the refugee dramatist Peter *Weiss, and wrote a variety of works, in some of which – notably his novel En Berättelse om herr Silberstein ("The Tale of Mr. Silberstein," 1957) and the play Benjamin (1963) – the problem of antisemitism is analyzed. His preoccupation with this theme had been anticipated by his uncle, Ragnar Josephson, who, during the 1930s, published Den Dubbla Loyalitaeten ("The Dual Loyalty"), a booklet describing the predicament of Swedish Jews who were eyewitnesses to the heartless policy of driving hapless Jewish refugees back to certain death in Nazi Germany.
A more authentic note was struck by Jewish authors who were not entirely Swedish by birth or upbringing. Chief Rabbi Ehrenpreis, who had once been prominent in modern Hebrew literature, later wrote books in Swedish on the intellectual history of the Jews, and also published some interesting autobiographical works. Zenia Larsson (1922– ), a Polish Jewess who survived the Holocaust and later reached Sweden, wrote three autobiographical novels, which describe the Lodz ghetto, her liberation from a Nazi concentration camp, and her first experiences in her adopted country. Her most famous works are Skuggor vid träbron ("Shadows by the Wooden Bridge," 1961), Lång är gryningen ("The Long Dawn," 1961), Livet till motes ("Accepting Life," 1962), Åter till Babel ("A Return to Babel," 1964), and Vägen hem ("The Return Home," 1975). Other works on similar subjects were published by two other refugees who nevertheless retained their original links with German culture – the playwright Peter Weiss and the Nobel prizewinning poet Nelly *Sachs. There are contemporary Swedish-born authors who also write in a similar vein, such as Susanne Gottfarb (1948– ), Kjell Grape (1939– ), and Peter Mosskin (1945– ), all of whom turn the spotlight inward and retrace their Jewish heritage, in some cases a heritage that was almost lost through the events of modern European history.
Marianne Ahrne (1940– ) went back to her Jewish roots in her novels Äppelblom och ruiner ("Apple Blossoms and Ruins," 1980) and Katarina Horowitz drömmar ("Katarina Horowitz's Dreams," 1990).
A new generation of Jewish writers has emerged in Sweden. Most, but not all, trace their roots in Sweden back three or four generations, yet their writings often strongly reflect the events of the first half of the last century. Tomas Böhm (1945– ) was born in Stockholm to parents who fled there from Austria. Among his many books are novels with a Jewish motif, such as Fjällturen ("A Trip in the Swedish Alps," 1980) and Adamsäpplen och huvudvärk ("Adam's Apples and Headaches," 1993). Jonathan Freud (1943– ) lives in Israel, where he works as a guide, journalist, teacher, and lecturer. He writes books that link history with current events and is often critical of the poor standard of journalism and analysis practiced by reporters based in Jerusalem who, he feels, provide media coverage simply to justify their presence, remarkably devoid of historical reflection or factual basis. His first book, Från Jerusalem ("From Jerusalem"), was published in 1986 and was followed a year later by a short novel, Palestinsk oskuld ("Palestinian Innocence"). Judarnas Konung ("King of the Jews"), which dealt with King Herod, appeared in 1988, and in 1991 he published En judisk bosättare ("A Jewish Settler").
Anita Goldman (1953– ) is a journalist who lived for a while in Israel. She started her writing career with Allt genast ("Everything Right Now," 1978), followed by a number of novels with a feminist theme: Våra bibliska mödrar ("Our Biblical Mothers") and Den sista kvinnan från Ur ("The Last Woman of Ur"), both published in 1988. Stenarnas döttrar ("Daughters of the Stones") appeared in 1989. In 1994 she published Orden som brändes ("The Burning Words"), a novel about *Beruryah, represented in the Talmud as a woman of learning and wife of R. *Meir. Marianne Goldman (1951– ) is a dramatist whose works have appeared on stage, tv, and on the big screen. Together with Kerstin Klein-Persky, she wrote Kaos är granne med Finkelstein ("Chaos Lives Next Door to Finkelstein," 1990), and she also wrote the film script for Freud flyttar hemifrån ("Freud Moves Away from Home"). In her Dansa samba med mig ("Come Dance the Samba with Me," 1994) she took up several key issues affecting second-generation children – the children of Holocaust survivors.
Salomon Schulman (1947– ) focuses largely on Yiddish literature. He has translated the works of Abraham *Sutzkever, publishing his Grönt akvarium ("Green Aquarium," 1986). Garva med Goldstein ("Laugh with Goldstein," 1988) is a compilation of Jewish humor. His Natten läser stjärnor, jiddisch-dikter från ett desperat sekel ("The Night Reads the Stars, Yiddish Poems from a Desperate Century," 1991) is a dark account of the fate that befell so many of Europe's brilliant Yiddish writers and poets.
Another writer with an immense impact who also recounts a dark past is Hedi Fried (1924– ). Born in Romania and brought to Sweden as a survivor of Hitler's death camps, she studied at university and graduated as a psychologist. However, it was only later that she finally decided to document her past, with the publication of her English-language memoir Fragments of Life (1990), translated later into Swedish as Skärvor av ett liv. The sequel, Livet tillbaka ("Back to Life," 1995) deals with her personal road back to life in her new country, Sweden.
Nelly *Sachs (1891–1970) was rescued and brought to Sweden through the good offices of Nobel Prize-winning Swedish authoress Selma Lagerlöf. She wrote poetry in German about the terrible fate of her people, and her work was translated into Swedish by a number of famous lyricists. In 1966 she shared the Nobel Prize in literature with Israeli author S.Y. *Agnon. Her play Eli. Ett Mysteriespel om Israels lidande ("Eli: A Mystery Play about Israel's Suffering," 1966) has been staged both in German and in Swedish, and she published collections of poems until the year she died.
Leif Silbersky (1938– ) traces his ancestry back to the Balkans three generations ago. A renowned defense lawyer with many high-profile cases to his credit, he is also a widely read author. His writing career began with the factual Porträtt av terrorister: intervjuer med terrorister i israeliska fängelser ("Portrait of Terrorists: Interviews with Terrorists in Israeli Jails," 1977). He has also written a series of detective novels together with Swedish author Olov Svedelid. The first was Sista vittnet ("The Last Witness," 1977, followed by a new book every year until 1985, then a break until 1990 when En röst för döden ("A Voice for Death") was published. The main character throughout the series is an old Jewish lawyer named Rosenbaum, a survivor of the Holocaust.
[Ilya Meyer (2nd ed.)]
The first impact of the Bible on Norwegian culture has been traced to the Stjórn, a medieval Icelandic paraphrase of parts of the Old Testament. However, after the Reformation, the Danish translation of the Bible held sway well into the 20th century. As elsewhere, biblical terms and phrases enriched the literary Danish (Riksmål) spoken in educated circles and the purer Norwegian (Landsmal) that only gained ground much later. Although biblical themes have appeared in the works of Norwegian writers, they have been rarer than might have been expected, even in comparison with Denmark and Sweden, perhaps as a result of Norway's greater cultural isolation. In 1881, Karl Herschell, the first Jew in Bergen, wrote a book about the Pentateuch; and, in the 20th century, Haakon B. Mahrt published the novel Jonas (1935) and Halldis Moren Vesaas included a poem about Esther in her verse collection Tung tids tale ("Talk of Hard Times," 1945). In general, biblical motifs characterize the description of contemporary Jewish figures in works by modern Norwegian writers.
the image of the jew
Even before Jews first settled in the country, they provided occasional stereotypes for Norwegian authors, beginning with Ludwig Holberg, born in Bergen, but who made his name in Denmark (see above). A Jewish moneylender appears in Aktierne eller de Rige (1788), a play by Claus Fasting, and in one of the early works of the poet Henrik Arnold *Wergeland. One of the articles in the Norwegian Constitution of 1814 prohibited Jewish settlement, a decree which aroused the indignant opposition of several liberal writers, headed by Wergeland who, in his pamphlets and in verse collections such as the epic Jöden ("The Jew," 1842) and Jödinden ("The Jewess," 1844), was a tireless champion of the proscribed Jews, demanding that they be granted both permission to enter Norway and equal rights with the rest of the population. In this stand Wergeland had been anticipated by Andreas Munch (1811–1884), who wrote the poem Jöderne ("The Jews," 1836), and he was followed by the writers of two plays: Adolph Rosenkilde in En Jöde i Mandal ("A Jew in Mandal," 1849) and Christian Rasmus Hansson in Den förste Jöde ("The First Jew," 1852).
An amendment to the constitution, favoring Jewish admission, was passed in 1852. Later in the 19th century, the same sympathetic approach was displayed by Alexander Lange Kielland in his Mennesker og dyr ("Men and Animals," 1891), which describes the Jews of Salonika, and in John Paulsen's Jödinden ("The Jewess," 1892), a novel influenced by Werge-land, which deals with the problems of mixed marriage and conversion in Denmark, and which includes some characters who display the effects of political antisemitism in contemporary Germany. In his poem Juleaftenen ("Christmas Eve," 1842) Wergeland had portrayed a Jewish peddler in northern Sweden. By the beginning of the 20th century, some Jewish immigrants endeavored to make a living by peddling their wares at railroad and construction sites, at country fairs, and in fishing villages. Jews of this type are referred to by several novelists, notably Johan Bojer in Den siste viking (1921; "Last of the Vikings," 1923); Knut Hamsun in Landstrykere ("The Vagabonds," 1927); and Nils. A. Ytreberg in Svarta Björn ("The Black Bear," 1954). Hamsun had a pathological hatred of the British and Americans and, during World War ii, became a prominent quisling. The Jewish peddler also appears in Hebraerens sön ("Son of the Hebrew," 1911), a work by Matti Aikio, a writer of Norwegian-Lapp origin. In his novel a Jew, abandoned by his Polish refugee parents, is raised by Christian foster parents in Finmark (northern Norway) and becomes an artist. He is an eyewitness to a Polish pogrom, and Aikio shows how he is torn between the conflicting Jewish and Christian traditions. The same kind of restlessness finally moves a Galician-born Danish Jew to emigrate to Ereẓ Israel in "Efraim ben Ruben," one of the stories in Sigurd Christiansen's collection Idyllen om Sander ("The Idyll of Sander," 1928). During the 1930s, Helge Krok showed in her play Underveis ("En Route," 1931) how, despite radical views in politics and religion, one of her characters experiences a revival of ancestral Jewish feeling.
A number of Norwegian novels have dealt with the Nazi persecution of Norwegian Jewry and with the deportation of the Jews or their flight to Sweden, and often discuss more general aspects of the Jewish fate and of antisemitism. They include Axel Kielland's Lev farlig ("Live Dangerously," 1943); Aimée Sommerfelt's Ung front ("Young Front," 1945) and Miriam (1950; Eng. 1963); and Odd Bang-Hansen's Ringer rundt brönnen ("Rings around the Well," 1946). The last writer also raises the issue of Norwegian-Jewish relations in his I denne natt ("On this Night," 1947). The postwar problem of the Jewish refugee figures in the works of several other writers, including Jens Ingvald Bjøorneboe, who deals with the question in Jonas (1955) and who also describes former Wehrmacht soldiers on a holiday tour of Italy in his play Fugleelskerne ("The Bird Fanciers," 1966). Among those who dealt with Nazi treatment of the German Jews was Ronald August Fangen, in his En lysets Engel ("An Angel of Light," 1945). A writer who frequently used Jewish themes was Ragnar Kvam, the author of several articles about Israel, including one about the Exodus affair of 1947 and the German camp to which the ship's unfortunate passengers were brutally returned. This last subject also appears in Kvam's novel, Alle vil hjem ("Everyone Wants to Go Home," 1950), which depicts antisemitic agitation during the years of World War ii, the Nazi deportations, and the unfriendly reception that awaited a survivor when he reached his village, all of which he believed precipitated Jewish immigration to Israel. The problem of antisemitism recurs in Kvam's later novel, Den store stillheten ("The Great Silence," 1964), and it also dominates Kjaerlighetsstien ("The Path of Love," 1946), by Johan Borgen, who discussed the widespread phenomenon of antisemitism in newspaper articles. A Jewish artist, Miriam, makes several appearances in a trilogy by Borgen (Lillelord, De mörke skogene, Vi har ham nu, 1955–57) and a Jewish concentration camp survivor figures in another of his novels, Blåtind ("The Blue Peak," 1964). Finn Alnaes also introduces a Jewish war victim in his Koloss (1963).
Jewish suffering in Norway during the Nazi occupation also inspired several poems of the postwar era. Such works were written by Inger Hagerup, in Den Syvende natt ("The Seventh Night," 1947); Halldis Moren Vesaas; Andreas Graven (Jöden, 1945); and Olav Dalgard, in Gjennom mörket ("Through the Darkness," 1945). Other Norwegian poems on themes connected with the Holocaust were Leif S. Rode's Barnemordet i Betlehem ("The Massacre of the Infants in Bethlehem," 1945); Carl Frederik Prytz's Ghetto (1960), on the Warsaw Jewish revolt; and Georg Johannesen's "Jödisk partisansang" ("Jewish Partisan Song") from the collection Nye dikt ("New Poems," 1966). From 1945 poems about the Jewish plight were published in the Norwegian press, as were others on the State of Israel's battle for survival in May 1948. Though much discussed in Norway, Israel has mainly attracted more popular writers, such as the editor Victor Mogens, author of Folket som ikke vil dø (1954), and Kare Holt, who wrote a tale for juveniles, Römlingen Oskar og Maria fra Hulesjöen ("Oscar and Maria the Refugees of Lake Ḥuleh," 1959). In 1982 Sigurd Senje published Ekko fra Skriktjenn 1942–47 ("Ecco from the Lake of Screams"), a documentary novel based on the "Feldman Case" of 1942–47). The Feldmans were a Jewish couple murdered by Norwegian border runners who were supposed to help them get to Sweden in 1942. The two border runners admitted to the murders in 1947 but were not convicted. This tragic episode was also made into a film. Many of the accounts about Jews in the Holocaust are documentary. Jahn Otto Johansen wrote Det hendte også her ("It Also Happened Here," 1984), an account of the Norwegian Holocaust. Per Ole Johansen wrote: Oss selv nærmest: Norge og jødene 1914–1943 ("Closest to Ourselves: Norway and the Jews 1914–43," 1984), an account of antisemitism in the Norwegian police and courts. Kristian Ottosen, a Norwegian historian, wrote an account of the deportation of Norwegian Jews during World War ii: I slik en natt ("On a Night Such as This," 1994). Karoline Frogner, a Norwegian film producer and author, published the book and produced the film Mørketid: kvinners møte med nazis-men ("Time of Darkness: Women's Encounter with Nazism," 1995). There are interviews with several women who survived the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, among them four Jewish women. Ragnar Ulstein wrote Jødar på flukt ("Jews on the Run," 1995); Vebjørn Selbekk's Jødehat på norsk: fra eidsvollsmennene til Boot boys ("The Norwegian Hatred of Jews: From the Men at Eidsvoll to Boot Boys," 2001), was an account of Norwegian attitudes to the Jews through the ages. The internationally known Norwegian author Lars Saabye Christensen briefly describes a Jewish girl and her family as they are arrested in their home in Oslo in his epic novel Halvbroren ("The Halfbrother," 2001), where he describes life in Oslo during and after the war through four generations.
In 2003 Einhart Lorentz published Veien mot Holocaust ("The Road to the Holocaust"), a chronological account of the stages that led to the mass deportations and murder of about six million Jews, and Espen Søby wrote Kathe, alltid vært I Norge ("Kathe Always Stayed in Norway), where he follows the fortunes of the 15-year-old Jewish schoolgirl Kathe Lasnik and her family, who were deported and murdered in Auschwitz in 1942.
the jewish contribution
In a country with a Jewish community as small as that in Norway, the number of Jewish writers has naturally been slight. Two authors who wrote books after World War ii were Elsa Dickman, whose novel Korsveien ("The Crossroad," 1945) first appeared in Sweden, and Eva Scheer, whose Vi bygger i sand ("We Build on Sand," 1948) traces the history of a Jewish family from its settlement in Norway until the Nazi deportations. Israel provides the theme for two other books by Eva Scheer: Vi möttes i Jerusalem ("We Met in Jerusalem," 1951) and Israel, dobbelt löftets land ("Israel, Land of the Twofold Covenant," 1967). Another novelist, Torborg Nedreaas, the great-granddaughter of Karl Herschell, portrays Jewish members of her family in Musikk fra en blå broˇnn ("Music from a Blue Well," 1960); in the title story of her collection Bak skapet står öksen ("Behind the Cupboard there is an Ax," 1945) she touched on the subject of German antisemitism. An outstanding figure in Norway's postwar cultural life, the refugee publisher and author Max *Tau promoted the translation and publication of works by several Israel writers and displayed his attachment to the Jewish heritage in his novels and autobiography. Øystein Wingaard Wolf (1958– ) is one of few Norwegian writers with a Jewish background to have published books in the 1980s. He has written several collections of poems and novels. Ingen kan forklare ordet "fred" ("No One Can Explain the Word 'Peace'"), a journey through the East European world in words, music and photographs (1987), is a collection of poems and short stories from eastern Europe translated into Norwegian. The novel Dodi Ashers død ('The Death of Dodi Asher," 1986) won a prize.
The author Mona Levin wrote the biography of her father, the Norwegian Jewish pianist Robert Levin: Med livet i hendene ("With Life in my Hands," 1983).
Most of the books written by Norwegian Jews are biographies of and by concentration camp survivors written in the 1980s and 1990s; Herman Sachnowitz, Det angår også deg ("This Concerns You," 1976); Ernest Arberle, written by Arvid Møller, Vi må ikke glemme ("We Must Not Forget," 1980); Robert Savosnik with Hans Melien, Jeg ville ikke dø ("I Did Not Want to Die," 1986); Herman Kahan with Knut M. Hans-son, Ilden og lyset ("The Fire and the Light," 1988); Mendel Szanjfeld with Simon Szajnfeld; Fortell hva som skjedde med oss; erindringer fra Holocaust ("Tell What Happened to Us: Recounting the Holocaust," 1993); Kai Feinberg with Arnt Stefansen, Fange nr 79108 vender tilbake ("Prisoner No. 79108 Returns," 1995); Vera Komissar with Sverre M. Nyrønning, På tross av alt: Julius Paltiel – norsk jøde i Auschwitz ("Despite Everything: Julius Paltiel – Norwegian Jew in Auschwitz," 1995). Vera Kommisar also wrote a book about Norwegian Jews who escaped to Sweden in 1942: Nådetid: norske jøder på flukt 1942 ("Time of Grace: Norwegian Jews on the Run, 1942," 1992) as well as Jødiske gleder: en bok om jødedommen, jødiske helligdager og koscher mat ("Jewish Delights: A Book on Judaism, Jewish Holidays and Kosher Food," 1998). Ove Borøchstein wrote J – historien om kristiansundsjødene ("J – the Story of the Jews from Kristiansund," 2001). Abel Abrahamsen, a Norwegian Jew living in the United States, published Jewish Life and Culture in Norway: Wergeland's Legacy (2003), an illustrated account of Jewish life in Norway before the war.
[Oskar Mendelsohn /
Lynn C. Feinberg (2nd ed.)]
P. Borchsenius, Historien om de danske jøder (1969); C.S. Petersen and U. Andersen, Dansk Litteratur-historie, 4 vols. (1925–29); B. Balslev, De danske Jøders Historie (1932); H.M. Valentin, Judarnas Historia; Sverige (1924); P.M. Granqvist, Det Svenska Israel (1933); C.V. Jacobowsky, in: jba, 19 (1962), 52–59; idem, in: Judisk Tidskrift, 10 (1943); idem, "Nyare svenske-judisk litteratur (1946–51)," in: Judisk Krönika, no. 2 (1952).