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Northern Arts: The Breakthrough of Scandinavian Literature and Art, from Ibsen to Bergman

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Overview

Northern Arts is a magnificent and provocative exploration of Scandinavian literature and art. With intellectual power and deep emotional insights, writer and critic Arnold Weinstein guides us through the most startling works created by the writers and artists of Scandinavia over the past two centuries.

Here readers will gain new perspectives on canonical giants such as Søren Kierkegaard, Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Edvard Munch, Knut Hamsun, and Ingmar Bergman. Readers will also encounter popular favorites like children's writer Astrid Lindgren, and come to know the work of lesser-known masters such as the novelist Tarjei Vesaas and the painters Ernst Josephson and Lena Cronqvist. Weinstein uses the concept of "breakthrough"--boundary smashing, restlessness, and the exploding of traditional forms and values--as a thematic lens through which to expose the roiling energies and violence that course through Scandinavian literature and art. Defying preconceptions of Scandinavian culture as depressive or brooding, Weinstein invites us to imagine anew this transformative and innovative tradition of art that continually challenges ideas about the sacred and the profane, family and marriage, children, patriarchy, and personal identity. Through these works he brings us face-to-face with our most hidden selves and urges, enriching our understanding of the emotions and forces that govern our lives.

Northern Arts is the essential introduction to Scandinavian literature and art, one that illuminates the fierce beauty and breathtaking reach of these incomparable works.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Runner-Up for the 2009 Atlantic's Best Book of the Year

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2009

"To take issue with Ibsen's creations . . . is of course to pay tribute to their vitality, their instructive meaningfulness. The allusion here, provides a perfect example of that remarkable kinship, that constant intellectual exchange, between Scandinavian artists in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, between those creative spirits of whom later writers and painters from the same provenance felt themselves the heirs. This interconnectedness is integral to Weinstein's ambitious new account of 'the breakthrough of Scandinavian literature and art, from Ibsen to Bergman', though his concern is principally with the congruity of his subjects' preoccupations and artistic choices. . . . [Weinstein's] style can rise to impressive levels of eloquence, and never more so than when he is writing of painting."--Paul Binding, Times Literary Supplement

"The most ambitious American effort in memory to view Scandinavian culture whole. It unfolds as if the head of our National Book Awards had denounced Scandinavian culture as too hermetic to merit attention in the United States. Almost in reply to such an imagined slight, Weinstein celebrates his subject for projecting a globally influential ethos that transcends any role as merely an occasional producer of world-class artists."--Carlin Romano, Chronicle of Higher Education

"This weighty, detailed, and authoritative but lively tome elucidates the revolution Scandinavia wrought in the world of arts and letters beginning in the 19th century. . . . Weinstein's is a brilliantly told story of how an underpopulated region developed from repressive backwater to cutting-edge artistic fulcrum."--Atlantic

"This is comparative scholarship at its best."--Choice

Atlantic
This weighty, detailed, and authoritative but lively tome elucidates the revolution Scandinavia wrought in the world of arts and letters beginning in the 19th century. . . . Weinstein's is a brilliantly told story of how an underpopulated region developed from repressive backwater to cutting-edge artistic fulcrum.
Chronicle of Higher Education
The most ambitious American effort in memory to view Scandinavian culture whole. It unfolds as if the head of our National Book Awards had denounced Scandinavian culture as too hermetic to merit attention in the United States. Almost in reply to such an imagined slight, Weinstein celebrates his subject for projecting a globally influential ethos that transcends any role as merely an occasional producer of world-class artists.
— Carlin Romano
Choice
This is comparative scholarship at its best.
Times Literary Supplement
To take issue with Ibsen's creations . . . is of course to pay tribute to their vitality, their instructive meaningfulness. The allusion here, provides a perfect example of that remarkable kinship, that constant intellectual exchange, between Scandinavian artists in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, between those creative spirits of whom later writers and painters from the same provenance felt themselves the heirs. This interconnectedness is integral to Weinstein's ambitious new account of 'the breakthrough of Scandinavian literature and art, from Ibsen to Bergman', though his concern is principally with the congruity of his subjects' preoccupations and artistic choices. . . . [Weinstein's] style can rise to impressive levels of eloquence, and never more so than when he is writing of painting.
— Paul Binding
The Atlantic
This weighty, detailed, and authoritative but lively tome elucidates the revolution Scandinavia wrought in the world of arts and letters beginning in the 19th century. . . . Weinstein's is a brilliantly told story of how an underpopulated region developed from repressive backwater to cutting-edge artistic fulcrum.
Times Literary Supplement - Paul Binding
To take issue with Ibsen's creations . . . is of course to pay tribute to their vitality, their instructive meaningfulness. The allusion here, provides a perfect example of that remarkable kinship, that constant intellectual exchange, between Scandinavian artists in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, between those creative spirits of whom later writers and painters from the same provenance felt themselves the heirs. This interconnectedness is integral to Weinstein's ambitious new account of 'the breakthrough of Scandinavian literature and art, from Ibsen to Bergman', though his concern is principally with the congruity of his subjects' preoccupations and artistic choices. . . . [Weinstein's] style can rise to impressive levels of eloquence, and never more so than when he is writing of painting.
Chronicle of Higher Education - Carlin Romano
The most ambitious American effort in memory to view Scandinavian culture whole. It unfolds as if the head of our National Book Awards had denounced Scandinavian culture as too hermetic to merit attention in the United States. Almost in reply to such an imagined slight, Weinstein celebrates his subject for projecting a globally influential ethos that transcends any role as merely an occasional producer of world-class artists.
Times Literary Supplement
To take issue with Ibsen's creations . . . is of course to pay tribute to their vitality, their instructive meaningfulness. The allusion here, provides a perfect example of that remarkable kinship, that constant intellectual exchange, between Scandinavian artists in the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, between those creative spirits of whom later writers and painters from the same provenance felt themselves the heirs. This interconnectedness is integral to Weinstein's ambitious new account of 'the breakthrough of Scandinavian literature and art, from Ibsen to Bergman', though his concern is principally with the congruity of his subjects' preoccupations and artistic choices. . . . [Weinstein's] style can rise to impressive levels of eloquence, and never more so than when he is writing of painting.
— Paul Binding
Chronicle of Higher Education
The most ambitious American effort in memory to view Scandinavian culture whole. It unfolds as if the head of our National Book Awards had denounced Scandinavian culture as too hermetic to merit attention in the United States. Almost in reply to such an imagined slight, Weinstein celebrates his subject for projecting a globally influential ethos that transcends any role as merely an occasional producer of world-class artists.
— Carlin Romano
Atlantic
This weighty, detailed, and authoritative but lively tome elucidates the revolution Scandinavia wrought in the world of arts and letters beginning in the 19th century. . . . Weinstein's is a brilliantly told story of how an underpopulated region developed from repressive backwater to cutting-edge artistic fulcrum.
Choice
This is comparative scholarship at its best.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691148243
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 552,257
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Arnold Weinstein is the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University. His books include "Recovering Your Story: Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison" and "A Scream Goes Through the House: What Literature Teaches Us About Life" (both Random House).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xiii

CHAPTER 1: Introduction 1

CHAPTER 2: Power 10
A. Speaking God: Kierkegaard and Lagerkvist 10
B. The Play of Patriarchy: Ibsen and Strindberg 41
i. Child's Play: The Cradle Song in Strindberg's The Father 45
ii. Metamorphosis in Ibsen's Little Eyolf 74
C. The Powers and the Self: Strindberg's Inferno and Gustafsson's Tennis Players 111

CHAPTER 3: Boundary Smashing 161
A. Going Through the Wall: Shakespeare, Strindberg, Josephson, Bergman 161
B. The Child's Revenge: Kierkegaard, Ibsen, Lindgren, Cronqvist 197
C. Hamsun's Hunger and Writing 246
D. Stories of Fusion: Vesaas's The Ice Palace and Bergman's Persona 273

CHAPTER 4: Graphing Power 313
A. Breakthrough, Time, and Flux in Edvard Munch (the Cubist) 313
B. The Case of Ernst Josephson 352

CHAPTER 5: Concluding the Book 439
Introducing Strindberg the Painter

Notes 461
Index 507

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