Browsing by Author "Albjerg, Asger"

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  • Albjerg, Asger (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Professor Knud Lyne Rahbek was a novelist, playwright, poet, magazine editor, journalist, socialite person, host of the Bakkehus , historian, theatre manager, translator, publisher etc., but his versatility either side of 1800 is better known than read and more despised than understood. In terms of methodology, the thesis is based on biographical, historical and philological research, while at the same time making use of formalistic and close reading methods. This study begins and ends with 7th of February 1800, when Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek join the exiled P.A. Heiberg at the inn near Frederiksberg Castle. What falls between is an interpretation of Rahbek s works in the service of democracy, human rights and freedom of the press as a pragmatic navigation between activities - both subversive and legitimate. Posterity mistook this range as mere spinelessness, and Rahbek was relegated to the literary and historical margins as an anachronism and as a jack of all trades, who did not know what he really wanted and therefore flitted about in so many fields just to be present. But Rahbek s problem was not one of standpoint, but rather how to find a balance between totalizing attitudes and confrontations between rebellious idealism and deep-rooted absolutism, without foregoing his belief in enlightenment, humanism and tolerance. In this way, and also through his personal conduct, which at that time was seen as jovial bonhommie, he made his contribution to the development of modern democratic Denmark in the full awareness of a popular, peaceful and down-to-earth community. Rahbek s principal work about the event of the French Revolution, which provides the focus for the above, is Camill og Constance. Et Revolutions Skilderie (1799). For today s reader, the novel about the revolution is an obvious example of a historical novel, as it does not only provide fictionalized information about past events placing them in a generally accepted perspective of historical development, but also gives the characters qualities, which, in Rahbek s words, allows the real events to influence the fictional characters. From this point of view, the novel of the revolution has shifted the benchmark for the first real historical novel on the European literary scene back by fifteen years. Lacking the aura so easily foisted on fearless iconoclasts or tragic losers, Rahbek s contribution may seem modest in spite of its enormous volume; but only when it is not evaluated in its full context, which is the development of Denmark towards an international democratic society.