Whom did I say it was? Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson is a household name in Norway, but today he is virtually unknown abroad, despite being a Nobel Laureate in literature in 1903. He was one of the four "great ones" in Norwegian literature in the 19th century. One of the others was the more famous Henrik Ibsen, with whom he was a classmate for a period and whom he knew very well. Wikipedia describes his lifespan shortly like this:
Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson (December 8, 1832 – April 26, 1910) was a Norwegian writer and the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. Bjørnson is considered as one of "The Great Four" Norwegian writers; the others being Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, and Alexander Kielland. Bjørnson is celebrated for his lyrics to the Norwegian National Anthem, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet".
In his earliest period, "Bjørnson was anxious "to create a new saga in the light of the peasant," as he put it, and he thought this should be done, not merely in prose fiction, but in national dramas or folke-stykker. "
"At the close of 1857 Bjørnson had been appointed director of the theater at Bergen, a post which he held for two years, when he returned to Christiania (now Oslo)." The pictures accompanying this post shows a statue that was raised in his honour outside the theatre "Den Nasjonale Scene" in Bergen. The statue was made by the famous Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland and was unveiled 1n 1917.
From 1860 to 1863 he traveled widely throughout Europe. Early in 1865 he undertook the management of the Christiania theatre, and brought out his popular comedy of De Nygifte (The Newly Married) and his romantic tragedy of Mary Stuart in Scotland. In 1870 he published Poems and Songs and the epic cycle Arnljot Gelline; the latter volume contains the ode Bergliot, one of Bjørnson's finest contributions to lyrical poetry."
He lived for long periods outside Norway, and his literary career had its many ups and downs, but he managed over time to become Norway's "National Poet". He produced novels, plays and poems of both romantic and realistic character.
He was also a staunch defender of liberty, of human rights and the rights of every nation to rule themselves. He believed in a form of "Scandinaviaism" in his youth, but was one of the most staunch proponents for an independent Norway from Sweden when that became an issue at the end of the 19thy century.
Wikipedia concludes like this:
Bjørnson was, from the beginning of the Dreyfus Affair, a staunch supporter of Alfred Dreyfus, and, according to a contemporary, wrote "article after article in the papers and proclaimed in every manner his belief in his innocence".
Bjørnson had done as much as any other man to rouse Norwegian national feeling, but in 1903, on the verge of the rupture between Norway and Sweden, he preached conciliation and moderation to the Norwegians.
He died on April 26, 1910 in Paris, where for some years he had spent his winters, and was buried at home with every mark of honor. The Norwegian coastal defence ship HNoMS Norge was sent to convey his remains back to his own land.
But to all Norwegians, he will be remembered as the man who wrote the words to our National Anthem, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" (here sung by Sissel Kyrkjebø and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir).
Today's post is my second entry in the fouth round of ABC Wednesday, the meme initiated by Denise Nesbitt.
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