Dan Ringgaard’s sense of place

Last updated: 15 March 2018

Dan’s latest, Årsværk. En kritikers dagbog (2017), a diary of books Dan read in 2015, looks sort of interesting, but heck, it’s 460 pages long…it was, it seems, part of a way of stripping back (maybe he had a sabbatical year, seeing as three months apiece were spent in LA and Buenos Aires). By 13 January we’re already with Walter Benjamin, and by 15 January we’re on the Place Saint-Sulpice, but it’s a dense affair, NFM, at least.

Turning to the back, I find a list (a to z by author) of litteratur mentioned in the text, including all the usual suspects along with some DVDs and other less weighty items, although as there are no date or page references it’s a trophy at best. A note states that the diary was written under a version of Dogme rules, using only full stops and commas, and avoiding italics, paragraphs etc.

Dan is clearly into #envhums; a further note tells me that the diary kicks off with a version of his 2014 article At læse vejret, while the Perec piece was published as Gaden, hverdagen er fælleseje, and a reading of JP Jacobsen’s Mogens, also discussing theories of weather by Michel Serres, Jane Bennett and Tim Ingold, was published as Vejret i ‘Mogens’ (and can be downloaded FOC).

He also co-wrote the introduction to Danish literature as world literature (2017), co-edited and contributed to Nordic literature: A comparative history. Volume I: Spatial nodes (Amazon, also 2017; “devotes its attention to the changing literary figurations of space by Nordic writers from medieval to contemporary times organised around the depiction of various ‘scapes’ and spatial practices at home and abroad”) and, of course! a chapter on Pessoa in Vide Verden on Lisbon (2016).


Dan Ringgaard is a lecturer in Nordic literature at Aarhus University. He is author of Litteratur in the Tænkepauser series (review) and has undertaken some broader formidling aka public engagement, but as is typical in dansk highered doesn’t blog or tweet.

In an interview from 2013 with Limfjordlitteratur (a little gem!), annoyingly divided into numerous teeny tiny segments, he comes up with:

sted = lokalitiet + menneske –> mening, fortællinger

place = the locality + man –> opinion, stories

He also talks about the “national places” found in Danish literature during the 19th century, such as Axel Sandemose’s portrayal of Jante (aka Nykøbing Mors) and its småbymentalitet and Johannes V Jensen’s Himmerland, how place is represented (eg by description, by its interaction with character and plot etc), the resonance of places you know well, the sense of wonder at new places and seeing familiar places in a different light, provins as in umodern vs udkant, and other weighty matters.

He was also at the helm of the section on Litteraturens steder from Litteraturens Huse (dunno; adult education resource? most now locked).

As well as all this we have Stedssans (2010; eReolen | review | another; won the Georg Brandes prize), made up of 19 essays on three themes in five sections (too complex, Dan!) concluding with Ti teser om stedet, the whole thing based round a critique of Heidegger’s Bauen Wohnen Denken:

2015-06-30 16.18.01

Ringgaard’s Ten theses about place

There’s a bibliography (aka Litteratur) but no index. It’s all a bit elitær again, with some travel writing but largely based around litcrit rather than an approach friendly to your average Guardian reading flâneuse. Here’s a gallop through the chapters from the outlines at the start of each (plus I’m going to give it another go shortly) an overview from my second shot, where I didn’t give up until page 112.

We start with a section entitled Pausen (a stop, or maybe rest), mainly concerning det gode sted. Four chapters:

  • Paradisisk begyndelse –  concepts of forundring and resonans as seen through a journey to Brasil (palmeøen), Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday and VS Naipaul’s An enigma of arrival; see Stephen Greenblatt’s essay on wonder and resonance (and New Historicism)
  • Heideggers hytte – discussion of Bauen Wohnen Denken plus Paul Celan’s poem Todtnauberg, which some interpret as Celan’s wish for Heidegger to apologise for his behavior during the Nazi era (the eponymous hut/chalet is in the Black Forest and is where Heidegger wrote much of Sein und Zeit; Celan visited on 25 July 1967 and the two went for walks in the woods, with Celan writing the poem a week later in Frankfurt); the chapter also discusses inter alia Lefebvre and Edward S Casey…
  • Maigrets ekstaster – place in crime fiction; skipped
  • Efterretninger fra Greeneland – ie Graham of that ilk, focusing on the exotic and exile; skipped

On to Kloden (the globe), three chapters concerning the historic foranderlighed of place in the face of globalisation, which has moved place from the vertical axis where it is relatively selvhvilende and connected with jorden and history to a horizontal axis where place is a knudepunkt for global kredsløb:

  • Transit, tourist – airports as ikkesteder (Marc Augé’s non-places), namehopping at pace with not more than a couple of paras per reference, touching on inter alia JG Ballard and Alain de Botton; offered up Night mail – not Auden’s but a collection of eight essays by Jens Christian Grøndahl from 1998 on Europe in the 1990s, split between globalisation and nationalism; see also Hjemme i Europa (2015); known as a difficult writer; I’m pretty sure I started one of his novels back in the day…
  • Globalt talt – Foucault, Calvino…a ‘global perception of place’; more of the same, skipped
  • Fra en stol i Minas Gerais – more Brazil, seen from inside and outside via a reading of Henrik Stangerup and Joao Guimaraes Rosa (eller omvendt); ditto

Kroppen:

  • Byens fortælling, byens puls – the big city: Salvador, Brasil
  • Byvandringer – NB, but still litcrit
  • At holde et landskab gående – Morten Søndergaard and AN Other
  • Palimpsest – pot pourri

Rejsen:

  • Rejsebrevprovinsbyen
  • Rejsens Sted – Thomas Boberg
  • Stedets VidneCarsten Jensen (closest DK gets to old school travel lit), and others

Kortet (the map):

  • Kort over Boipeba – palm  island, again
  • Litterær kartografi – Michael Chabon + the usual suspects
  • Korttegnere – novel by Per Olov Enquist
  • Landmålere – Lykke-Per and others

Finally, Ti teser om stedet, see image above.

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