Tuesday, January 27, 2009

B is for Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

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, 1832April 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 was one of the original members of the Nobel Committee, and was re-elected in 1900. In 1903 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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.


For more, you can log on via a Mr Linky enabled site

46 comments:

Malyss said...

A very interesting character!! (and what an austere face!but it goes often together , especially in the time he lived)
Though I know a lot about my own country's history, I never heard about the fact that Dreyfus had found a norvegian help! I'll search about that in France.
I 'm not sure but you also had a woman that got the Nobel Prize for litterature: Sigrid Unndset?Was not she norvegian?
But the only one which is still really famous here and now is Ibsen.
(AND, lovely benches around the statue..Ü)

Malyss said...

PS I listened to your national Anthem, and I found it very impressive.

Grace and Bradley said...

Thank you for leting us know a piece history of Bjornson, listening to your national anthem and also let me refreshing my memory of the history of Dreyfus Affair.

Carolina said...

You learn something every day. I did not know all this(but I don't know lots of things yet). I like the photo with the paving almost pointing towards this statue.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Excellent post.. and quite right to be proud of such a chap... I also like your Anthem, it as a proper sound to it and must inspire patriotism... :O)

uncleawang said...

Very interesting entry of ABC letter 'B'.Thanks for sharing and have a nice day.

GAWO said...

Interessant lesning på en tirsdagskveld. I tur og orden må du ta for deg "de fire store". Har vi statuer av de alle i Bergen? Sannelig om jeg vet....Men det vet kanskje du.

Hyde DP said...

well it is true I had never heard of him till now.

John said...

Meget flott, lærerik og velgjort post for B, Rune.
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnsonsgate er hovedåren på denne siden av elva i byen her. Jeg jobbet i nr 118 før vi flyttet før jul :)

Rinkly Rimes said...

He looks a bit scary but what a determined stride!

Kate said...

What an interesting post! Regarding the photos, are they shot close up, or are you cropping or using a zoom lens? The clarity is great for the bright light and colors.

Kate
cholulared.blogspot.com

Mediterranean kiwi said...

the name christiania sounds so romantic - i will look it up to find out more about oslo

Mediterranean kiwi said...

I think Roald Dahl agreed with me!

"When I was young, the capital of Norway was not called Oslo. It was called Kristiania. But somewhere along the line, the Norwegians decided to do away with that pretty name and call it Oslo instead." (quote by Roald Dahl)

kjpweb said...

Great read - and I have to admit that Ibsen is the only one I think I ever heard of...
Cheers, Klaus

Lene said...

Bravo for B-posten fra Bergen!!! OG så måå jeg jo bare kommentere innlegget under her, Rune... Snakker om å være sladrehank, du ;)) Hohooo :)

Kate said...

Thanks for the info on your photographs!

Kate
cholulared.blogspot.com

Fotosekken said...

Denne var genial, Rune! =o) Og flott skrevet!

Ann said...

Absolutely fascinating, I have studied Ibsen as I did Literature, but what a fantastic charecter, and great shots so clear and sharp.

Ida said...

EN flott B og god reklame for landet vårt.
Jeg blir alltid rørt når jeg hører nasjonalsangen - og mange med meg sikkert.

Visste du forresten at Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson var bestefar til Margit Sandemo. ;)

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Most fascinating Rune, I didn't know this, it is great with a bit of history, thank you/ Tyra

Daniel J Santos said...

excellent post, well done.

Babooshka said...

A bevy of B's today an a educatio in your culture. All in one brilliant post.

Titania said...

Bjornstjerne Martinus Bjornson was a great man and deserves a great monument. Too many monuments for people who do not deserve them.

anthonynorth said...

It's always good to remember classic writers. An excellent and informative post.

ramblingwoods.com said...

That was an interesting story and I really enjoy these kind of posts...

RuneK said...

Kjempefin post Rune, både lærerik og flotte bilder. :o)

Granny Smith said...

Are any of his writings available in English translation? I would love to become acquainted with them.

Dulce said...

Thank you for all the information.
Have a nice week

Tumblewords: said...

Thank you for an informative post! I don't recognize his name but I'll be looking for some of his work. Beautiful photos, as well!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

I confess I did not know of Bjornson. (Ibsen, yes. I remember reading Ibsen's plays many years ago.)

Good for you for telling us all about this man so proud of his country, Norway, and winner of the Nobel Prize.

Tash said...

terrific photos.
Another author to add to my reading list from Scandinavian counties. (PPusa of Helsiki DP recommended Waltari, Kivi and Linna). I discovered Sigrid Undset a couple of years ago and read the 1st volume of Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter and loved her description of going up the mountains during the summer.

naturglede said...

Kjempebra for dagens bokstav. Bjønson er verdt å fortelle om.Fine bilder også.Flott levert:)

photowannabe said...

He seems so stern but he was very talented. Thanks for all the information.

raf said...

Thanks for the Norwegian history, Rune! Mr. Bjornson was certainly sn obvious choice for B today!

ArneA said...

Got valg, men hva med hans utallige kvinnehistorier. Har du glemt uttrykket:
"Hopp Karoline Hopp"

Ida said...

Ja, du er unnskyldt. ;)
Det er jo det som gjør både blogging og livet til en fantastisk reise.
At vi har ulike interesser og syn. Bare tenk på alle de millioner av bilder og sener som florerer på bloggene. Ikke ett eneste er likt....
Gleden er å kunne dele det hele.
Og å hylle variasjonene.

Jeg har ett spesielt forhold til Sandemo.
Det kan du lese om i DETTE innlegget. ;)

Miss_Yves said...

An important writer! He was certainely a "pen friend "of Zola .
The pints of view on his statues shows how anxiuos is his face, and how hr is decided to walk towards freedom .

Torsdag said...

Hallo Rune,
thank you for telling about Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson. I rember that I read an article on the ferry long time ago telling about him.
Hilser Hartmut

mrsnesbitt said...

Fascinating! Thanks so much for taking the time to write such an intresting post.

Dx

Michele said...

Hmmm... quite an informative post! A very good read. I love reading about Norway's history... good reasons to be proud of his accomplishments!

ellen b. said...

How very interesting. I had not heard of him before so I'm happy to be educated here :0)
Happy B to you!

Liz said...

He doesn't look like a poet, more like a politician.

Reader Wil said...

This is a very great post about a very great author. I read Synnøve Solbakken, but in Dutch and I once learned your national anthem by heart.Thanks for sharing!

PERBS said...

I wanted to listen to the anthem but here on the community room computer, they don't allow it so will have to imagien it as beautiful.

This fellow you feature looks quite scary in the close-up but much better in the full length statue. Interesting piece about him!

Barbara Martin said...

Wonderful and new history for me, RuneE. (Just to advise, my system froze when accessing the music.)

Robert V. Sobczak said...

So often the literary greats are country specific. Especially when their is a language barrier that needs translation. Compare that to Napoleon whose feats of conquest transcend language, time, and space.