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

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

by Arnold Weinstein

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691125442
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/02/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 544
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About 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).

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

What People are Saying About This


Northern Arts is a highly original and extremely engaging examination of masterpieces of Scandinavian literature and art that have not commanded the international attention they deserve. The book is full of original insights and critical perceptions. It represents a very valuable and rich contribution to our understanding of a wide range of literary and cultural phenomena.
Steven P. Sondrup, Brigham Young University

Reinhold Heller

Throughout his separate studies, Weinstein offers illuminating insights. I have benefited significantly from reading Northern Arts, gaining new perspective on specific works, authors, and artists I thought I already knew.
Reinhold Heller, author of "Confronting Identities in German Art"


Well-written and informative. Weinstein is a brilliant and sensitive reader of texts and an imaginative reader of paintings. There is not a chapter in this volume that I did not learn something from. Northern Arts was a pleasure to read. I know of nothing quite like this book.
Susan C. Brantly, author of "Understanding Isak Dinesen"

Rika Lesser

Weinstein casts shimmering northern lights and reads deeply by them into the works of many Scandinavian godlike figures. Even better, he reveals to a wider world audience the startling, sometimes visionary, paintings of August Strindberg, Ernst Josephson, and Lena Cronqvist.
Rika Lesser, author of "Questions of Love: New and Selected Poems"

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