Stedssans: place writing in Denmark

Denmark’s – and Danes’ – sense of place…writing (and writers) about place, walking and related på dansk. All a bit of a mixed bag, most noticeable for how conservative and highbrow Danish publishing is.

See also posts in the stedssans category, in particular Place writing in Denmark.

And while we’re at it, nature writing is equally nebulous in Denmark. See Litteraturhuset’s cancelled event, featuring Andrea Hejlskov and Nanna Goul.


Books, essays, lists:


Elsewhere (unless otherwise stated, Udkantsdanmark):

  • Aarhus – see Elsewhere page
  • Banedanmark (2014; LitteraturNuLitteratursiden) – by Peder Frederik Jensen
  • Daglejerne (1936) and De ny tider (1939) – socialist realism Danish style from Hans Kirk, set around the cement factories of Mariagerfjord; revisited by Atlas
  • Huset i Sønderhå (English) and Husumgade revisited – Bue Bredsdorff‘s self geography, mini-comics and posters about places he has lived, published as HJEM (2016), a graphic novel trilogy, in 2016 featuring his childhood home, a student house and his ideal home
  • Limfjordslitteratur – a wealth of resources for learners about six 19th/early 20th century authors from the area around the big fjord in Jutland
  • Opland (2014; Litteratursiden) – by Jens Vilstrup
  • Pendlerne (2014; LitteraturNu) – by Simon Fruelund; see also Borgerligt tusmørke (2006) on a fictional suburb
  • Udkanten (2014) – by Lasse Hjorth Madsen
  • Udkantsmyten (2015) DR | K Forum – by Kaare Dybvad

A 2014 article in Politiken (Provinsen? Lad os nu komme af med det lort!) looks at the growing interest by Danish novelists in ‘the provinces’, which portrays them either as unchanged or as a smoking ruin:

  • for Bent Vinn Nielsen (article) Danish literature has always been written by people from the ploughfield and is still a land of farmers/peasants – a quarter of DK’s population may live in the Capital Region, but many grew up in the provinces
  • Naja Marie Aidt, now living in New York, says her picture of Denmark has changed – it is a country præget of the provinces. a little country made up of little towns; suddenly more exotic, as everyone is moving into the city
  • Gyldendal’s Johannes Riis: things become clearer/tydligere when they are portrayed in the provinces, it’s easier to explain isolation, loneliness and togetherness when there is less going on; mentions Mærkedage (2007) about the vanishing Danish farmer culture and others who write about vanishing features of life in the provinces, cf Erling Jepsen, Knud Rømer. early books by Helle Helle and Josefine Klougart; elements of demonisation by those who have embraced urban culture and feel they have escaped from something…it was ever thus
  • Jens Smærup Sørensen doesn’t think the contrast is as big as it was in the 1950s – we all live by the same norms, all in some form of city, have the same goals and dreams, travel to the same places, whereas at the time Jeppe Ankær there were differences in views on life and death
  • Gyldendal man, brought up on Mors, disagrees – small societies live in a subdued way, don’t necessarily say everything they are thinking, becauseyour neighbour will still be there tomorrow and it’s not possible to live in a state of permanent conflict; this offers authors the option of ambiguity, where not everything is written and some things are left between the lines
  • Erling Jepsen: contrast between town and country has never been greater – now it’s the country which has an underworld, drugs and weapons, all the things which we previously connected with the city, now a place of security; he can’t recognise the boring lives protrayed by eg Helle Helle; real life is what happens in the country
  • publisher Steen Piper set up Hovedland (based in Gjern, pop: <1.5K, is this a town??) as a reaction to the dominant cultural class in the big city – real life takes place outside urban areas…”der bliver ikke givet plads til forfatterne, som skriver fra et andet udgangspunkt end Forfatterskolen”


Other Scandi walkers/writers:

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