Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe

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Jacobsen, Jens Peter

  • Literature (fictional prose/drama)Danish
  • Author:
    Jensen, Lotte
  • Text:

    Jens Peter Jacobsen (Thisted 1847 – Thisted 1885), one of the most influential Danish authors of his time, was a key figure of the realist/naturalist “modern breakthrough”. His most influential novel, Niels Lyhne (1880), was set in a typical Danish environment, reflecting the differences between life in the city and the country, but at the same time it was a highly romantic novel, aiming to unravel the deepest emotions of the main characters. Jacobsen studied natural sciences in Copenhagen, and specialized in botany. He was influenced by the ideas of Charles Darwin, whose On the origin of species and The descent of man he translated into Danish. Jacobsen’s scientifically motivated atheism became one of the major themes in his works. In 1873 Jacobsen was diagnosed with the tuberculosis that caused his death in 1885.

    Jacobsen’s literary work consists of two novels, a collection of short stories (Mogens og andre Noveller, 1882) and approximately 160 poems, of which the majority was published posthumously (Digte og udkast, 1886). His novels, Fru Marie Grubbe (1876) and Niels Lyhne, were hugely influential. The former is a historical novel about the eponymous 17th-century Danish noblewoman, the latter deals with the emotional struggles of a young poet and atheist. Jacobsen’s poetry was a major influence on the Danish symbolists of the 1890s, and he became a cult figure in the German speaking world: his admirers include Stefan George, Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann and Stefan Zweig. His poem Gurresange (1868-70) was set to music by the composer Arnold Schönberg in 1913.

    Word Count: 249

    Thisted (DK)

    Copenhagen (DK)

    Narrative literature : Danish

    National-classical music : German

    Darwin, Charles

    Mann, Thomas

  • Article version:
    1.1.1.1/a
  • “J.P. Jacobsen”, Dansk Biografisk Leksikon , http://www.denstoredanske.dk/Dansk_Biografisk_Leksikon/Kunst_og_kultur/Litteratur/Forfatter/J.P._Jacobsen; last visited: 22 Dec 2014

    Gustafson, Alrik; 1969. Six Scandinavian novelists (New York, NY: Biblo & Tannen)

    Jacobsen, Jens Peter; 2008. Niels Lyne: Roman (Postface by Jørn Vosmar, text publishing and notes by Klaus Nielsen Copenhagen: Det Danske Sprog- og Litteraturselskab)


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    All articles in the Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe edited by Joep Leerssen are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.spinnet.eu.

    © the author and SPIN. Cite as follows (or as adapted to your stylesheet of choice): Jensen, Lotte, 2018. "Jacobsen, Jens Peter", Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe, ed. Joep Leerssen (electronic version; Amsterdam: Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms, https://ernie.uva.nl/), article version 1.1.1.1/a, last changed 10-08-2018, consulted 16-12-2018.