Hvor litteraturen finder sted: an encylopedia of place

Hvor litteraturen finder sted (2010) by Anne-Marie Mai is a three volume colossus covering Danish literature from 1000 to the present day. It’s a literary history from the perspective of the places where literature was written, read, disseminated etc: up to 1800 the cathedral, the herregård, the court and the akademi, from 1800-1900 the præstegård and the salon, and in the 2oth and 21st centuries the bladhus, the metropol and the Internet:

2015-06-30 15.13.49

from Udgang, vol 3 p393

This is an interesting concept, but is written in an encyclopedic style making it a far from inspiring read. Crucially, it lacks an index by place, favouring the German classics of Litteratur and Personenregister listings instead. For reviews see Litteratursiden | Berlingske | Politiken | Videnskab.dk. Accompanying TV series(!): Litteraturens åsteder, possibly worth a watch but just can’t face it.

Anne-Marie is a lecturer in Danish literature at SDU, celebrated in a 346 page festskrift (those Germans again) with the title Litteratur på stedet in 2013. It appears that she was awarded DK 100,000 to compile her three volume masterwork, but the total price on the street is still around £100, and the scale of the thing is daunting. Who is the target audience? Is it meant to be a reference work? Who knows. Like so many Danish cultural outputs in dire need of an editor with a Big Red Pen.

Update, Sep 2016: just published (and reviewed in/by Information | Politiken | Klaus Rothstein | Litteratursiden) is GALLERI 66. En historie om nyere dansk litteratur. (sic; 393pp, DK 299,95). According to Gyldendal the book represents a new way of writing about literary history, presenting the (457) publications of one year within their (global) artistic and political context, of both 1966 and up to the present day. Rothstein finds it too academic, and with her encyclopedic approach this ‘text’ doesn’t sound likely to be Mai’s break-out from the Danish ivory tower, however much the reviewers hail her as a ‘fantastisk formidler’.


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