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Blicher Steen Steensen

Blicher Steen Steensen (17821848)

Steen Steensen Blicher was an author and poet born in Vium near Viborg, Denmark.

Blicher was the son of an active and literary interested Jutlandic parson whose family was distantly related to Martin Luther. He grew up in close contact to nature and the life of the peasantry of the moor areas of Jutland. After changing careers as a teacher and a tenant he at last became a parson like his father and 1825-1847 he had his living at Spentrup. As a clergyman he seems to have been less than inspired. He was accused of being on the bottle, his main interests were hunting and writing and many struggles with his superiors led to his dismissal shortly before his death. He had ten children, seven sons, three daughters with his wife Ernestine Juliane Berg whom he married on 11 June 1810.

First of all Blicher is known as the pioneer of the novella in Danish litery history. From the 1820s and until his death he wrote several longer or shorter tales that were published in local periodicals, most of them dealing with his home region, some historical or amateur scientific sketches. Much of this is light literature and entertainment but twenty or thirty are masterpieces. In these he describes human fates in his home region in Jutland, He is often called a tragic and melancholic writer, this fact indisputably marks much of his writings but he is not without wit and humour.

The Diary of a Parish Clerk, his break-through, tells about a poor peasant boys troubled life with unhappy love, war, exile and an old age in resignation inspired by the same authentic background as Marie Grubbe by J. P. Jacobsen. The sombre The Hosier and his Daughter (twice filmed) that describes the mental breakdown of a girl because of unhappy love is a Danish classic prose tragedy. The Parson of Veilbye, the first Danish crime novel, deals with judicial murder (most likely it has inspired Tom Sawyer Detective by Mark Twain), it too has been filmed. Tardy Awakening, a tragedy of adultery and suicide, is perhaps influed by his own matrimonial life. E Bindstouw is a mixture of tales and poetry by the scheme of Dekameron, all written in Jutlandic dialect, here he turns loose his humour. Blichers most important literary ability is his description of the scenery, especially the Jutlandic moor landscape and its inhabitants: resigned peasants and free moor gipsies. Stylistic he also varies between his own a bit detailed intellectual narrative style and the various expressions of peasants, squires and robbers.

As a lyric Blicher worked from the years of the Napoleonic Wars until his death. Among his most important poems are the resigned and melancholic Til Glæden (To Joy) from 1814, his interesting local patriotic song Kær est du Fødeland (Dear are You, Fatherland) that shows his subjective love to his home region and his impressive winter poem Det er hvidt herude ("It is white out here"). The bluff and cheerful dialect poem Jyden han æ stærk å sej ("The Jutlander he is strong and tough") is from 1841. Perhaps most artificial is his collection Trækfuglene ("Birds of Passage") inspired by a serious illness, in this various birds with overtones express his situation.

Blicher was a man of far-ranging interests. Beginning as a conservative he developed into an eager debater of society, uniting the role of the enlightened and useful citizen of the 1700s with modern liberalism. He tried to arrange national feasts in Jutland, proposing laws and reforms but he was never really accepted by the established liberal politicians. Besides he translated British poetry which always interested him, like Macphersons Ossian and Goldsmiths The Vicar of Wakefield he even tried to write poetry in English.

Though being a contemporary of the first Romanticist generation of Danish writers Blicher is in many ways a loner. He is more of a realist, dealing with broken dreams and with Time as mans superior opponent and his religion is the old rationalist one. He is a belated Danish pupil of the 18th century English letter-and-diary tales and by his interest of dialect and of peasants he anticipates the regional writers about 1900, like Johannes Vilhelm Jensen. Today he is regarded the pioneer of the Danish short story and the region writing. Many of his verses have been set to music and his best novels have been reprinted. He has never enjoyed an international interest like Hans Christian Andersen but in Denmark he is almost just as known.

Denmark, 1982, Steen Blicher

Denmark, 1982.08.26, Copenhagen. Books

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