Norwegian romantic nationalism

Norwegian romantic nationalism (Norwegian: Nasjonalromantikken) was a movement in Norway between 1840 and 1867 in art, literature, and popular culture that emphasized the aesthetics of Norwegian nature and the uniqueness of the Norwegian national identity. A subject of much study and debate in Norway, it was characterized by nostalgia.

National Romanticism as part of Romanticism
The Norwegian literary historian Asbjørn Aarseth in his work Romantikken som konstruksjon 1985 with the subtitle “Tradition-critical studies on Nordic literary history” thematically divided the term romance:

Sentimental romanticism sets the sensitive seal continues the 18th century, but in the consciousness of a new era (like Schiller’s ” On Naive and Sentimental Poetry “).
Universal Romanticism contains Schlegel’s longing for cosmic unity and borders on pantheistic mysticism.
Vitality emphasizes – u. a. based on the organism thinking – the equality or kinship between plants, animals and humans. It encompasses Sendling’s natural philosophy, the unconscious urges, the demonic self-development. (2 nd to 3 rd aptly correspond to René Wellek’s criteria of the concept of nature as a basal quantity for the world view of romanticism and imagination as a central moment in Romantic poetics.)
National Romanticism means national community as a variant of organism thinking, incorporating a historical, Old Norse inspired dimension.
Liberal Romanticism: the pursuit of freedom is found both in the demands of the progressive bourgeoisie and in those of the oppressed ethnic groups for independence and self-government (this corresponds to the national romanticism in the Napoleonic period and is renewed after the July Revolution). It can be combined with the so-called romanticism.
Social romanticism includes the utopian socialists (Saint-Simon and Fourier, later also Marx) and a certain enthusiasm for social reforms, eg. In parenting or forms of coexistence (such as Almqvists Det går).
Regional romance, d. H. Interest in folk life and provincial culture, landscapes and topography, leads to the homeland poetry in the later century.
All these topics have in common that they conceive the world as an organism. This then also affects the individual objects, so that the result is to understand the people, the tribe, the family as organisms. In this thought pattern then also the concept of the “people’s soul” arises. Depending on the extent of the organism’s picture, the individual people are distinguished as distinct organisms from the other Scandinavian peoples, or Scandinavianism, which declares Norway, Sweden, and Denmark to be a fundamentally common organism. Both models have been virulent in Norway and also led to political controversy.

The national romantic movement in Norway differs in principle from the national romantic movements in the rest of Scandinavia and especially in Iceland. While romanticism was associated there with the strengthening or establishment of the nation from the outset and was also widespread among the people, the romantic idea of an independent folk organism in Norway initially had no support among the population. The element of national independence was registered late and from the outside as a result of the Kiel Peace of January 14, 1814.

Cultural situation
By 1814, Norway had 900 000 inhabitants, of which about 1 / 10 lived in a city. The country was poor, although there was no need during normal crop years. With the introduction of the confirmation in 1736 and elementary school in 1739, literacy was widely disseminated. However, with very few exceptions, literature was limited to catechisms and psalms. The population saw themselves as residents of a particular geographical area of the Danish Empire. This was never questioned and was not the subject of any debates. Norwegian students founded a Norwegian Society (Norske Selskab) in Copenhagen in 1774, and although this society became a forum for national self-glorification, there was no political program for the separation from Denmark. The state was run by about 2,000 families of civil servants. The political elite had close ties to Denmark and had also visited the university in Copenhagen. The romantic thought therefore did not refer to national independence, but to the consciousness of its own value within the empire and the glorification of its own past. Although the mood within the lower strata was not well known, King Frederik, fearing an uprising in Norway, did not dare to announce to Norway the cession of Norway to Sweden in the Peace of Kiel. This process hit Norway completely unprepared. Due to the anti-Swedish mood that prevailed in Norway except for the merchants in the east, it came then to the independence of Eidsvoll, Although this independence lasted only a short time and Sweden took power, political events led to Norway’s Storting giving top priority to strengthening its own national consciousness.

Emergence of the national thought
Soon after the country’s transition to Swedish rule, the task of creating a Norwegian-based national sentiment, a separate process under the name of ” nation building in Norway “, came up. First, an educational offensive began. The driving force was the industrialist Jacob Aall. He was a founding member of the “Selskap for Norges Vel” and had been very committed to the establishment of a Norwegian university. Not only did he participate in drafting the constitution, but he also published a series of moral writings aimed at provoking national sentiment through ethical reasoning among the people. In addition, he dealt with the translation and publication of the royal sagas in theHeimskringla. He financed in 1814 the publication of the Orðabók Björns Halldórsonar (an Icelandic-Latin-Danish dictionary), which was procured by the linguist Rasmus Christian Rask. In 1824, the poet and lawyer Anke Bjerregaard issued the magazine “Patriots”. He, too, was strongly influenced by Romanticism in his works and can be considered a forerunner of the romantic lyricist and critic Welhaven and the equally romantic lyricist Wergeland.

The July revolution in France gave new impetus to the idea of freedom. Wergeland translated the French Freedom Anthem. Sons from intellectual circles, mostly from pastors, came to Christiania from all parts of the country and met at the university. The political debate was dominated by the age group of 20 to 30 year olds. Also, the Storting was occupied in the elections of 1833 with new people. The peasants for the first time elected members from their own ranks, so that almost half of the deputies were peasants.

The cultural debate
Two circles formed around three men each: cultural life was determined by the men Henrik Wergeland, Johan Welhaven and PA Munch. In politics, these were the Chief State Councilor Frederik Stang, the spokesman for the Storting group of officials Anton Martin Schweigaard and the leader of the peasants in the Storting Ole Gabriel Ueland. These two groups defined the intellectual life of the 1830s. Politics and culture were interwoven. Debates about poetry and aesthetics were basically political debates, which always centered around the notion of “freedom.”

Many law students of the University of Christiania felt like patriots and formed a student union. Most of them aspired to the civil service. In particular, the Storting peasants were referred to as patriots, who together with some of the Storting officials formed the opposition. The Patriots united the defense of the constitution, the front against the bureaucracy, the austerity in public spending and the pursuit of strengthening and democratization of local governments. On the other side were men like Jacob Aall, Welhaven, and his friends, who had close ties to Denmark and rejected the crude agitation of the patriots who branded their opponents as traitors. They were called the “intelligence” (intelligences). They quit the student union. Protagonists of the dispute were Welhaven and Wergeland, who attacked each other in poetry. The followers of the “intelligentsia” were allied with political power, albeit unconditionally and unconditionally.

The “intelligentsia” put the debate on the concept of “freedom” on the general agenda. Welhaven had grown up in the classical tradition, had joined the romantic view of poetry as an independent, beautiful art, and said that one could only gain freedom from form if one had passed through and overcome the compulsion of form. Wergeland claimed for himself another freedom, the freedom of genius. That was the freedom to enrich his language with words that were most effective, with the pictures he found significant, with sentences as long as he thought necessary, with erotic themes far beyond that went out what was then considered permissible. The fact that he had a woman paired with a buck in a poem was unheard of in 1830, in Welhaven’s eyes a mortal sin against poetry. This dispute was also conducted in the field of cultural policy: it was about what poetry the people should have. The poetic form could not be divorced from the purpose of the seal. Welhaven thought the seal of Wergeland was ruinous.

Coming from the Düsseldorf School of Painting, Norwegian landscape and genre painters such as Hans Fredrik Gude and Adolph Tidemand developed national-romantic image content in the 1840s. This impressed the Swedish King Oskar I so deeply that in 1849 he commissioned them and Joachim Frich to paint his neo-gothic palace Oskarshall and in 1850 created a travel grant for Swedish painters at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In his main work, devotion of the Haugians(1848) Tidemand referred by means of a sermon scene in an old Norwegian smoke house (Årestue) on the religious revival movement of the Norwegian lay preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771-1824), which was closely linked to the national self- reflection in Norway. Because of the great success in Germany made Tidemand of the picture, the folklore costumes studies and models of the Düsseldorf genre painting processed, 1852 another version for the National Gallery in Oslo. Together with the image Bride on the Hardangerfjord, it was shown in 1855 at the World’s Fair in Paris, where these exhibits earned their creator a first-class medal and the honor of the Legion of Honor. Other Norwegian painters, such as Johan Fredrik Eckersberg, Knud Bergslien, Erik Bodom, Lars Hertervig, Anders Askevold, Morten Müller and Hans Dahl, followed the paths prepared by Gude and Tidemand.

In the architecture, national romance is used as a collective term of several styles as a stage in historism from the late 1800s until after the First World War. Within Norwegian wood architecture, the dragon style is considered before 1900. Larger buildings are characterized by the use of coarse-grained stone (raw head), as a counterweight to or reaction to German classical architecture. The Art Nouveau Ornament takes up the Viking era motifs and stave church deer to symbolize the Norwegian.

Folk educational measures
For Wergeland, language was an essential starting point for the emergence of the nation. In the magazine Vidar PA Munch published an essay, in which he held the opinion that there is only one Norwegian spoken language, but many branches in the form of the Old Norwegianhave similar dialects. Munch, a supporter of the Intellectual Party, admitted that the contemporary written language was not Norwegian, but found the invaded Danish language a gift to Norway. Wergeland emphasized in his answer the value of one’s own vernacular for a nation and defended it against the “linguistic aristocrat” Munch. It was also about the so-called “original Norwegian” against a cosmopolitan language of the educated. Wergeland also reports that one day the border between countries is no longer a river but a word. But Welhaven did not reject the vernacular all round. He also emphasized national differences and praised nationality as the source of poetry, which should then lead to national romanticism. Ivar Aasen drew the conclusion from the dispute over the language reform and development in the sense of Munch, a Norwegian language in the way of dialect research. He declined the offer of a scholarship at the University because he wanted to adapt in no case of urban students fashion. Rather, he kept his peasant costume. His national sentiment then flourished in the language dispute. In his writing Om vort Skriftenprogfrom 1836 he presented his national language policy program. For him, a separate national written language instead of the Danish was inevitable. Both for social and national reasons, it is important for an independent nation to have its own written language based on its own national dialects.

Since the “people’s soul” of Norway could not refer to past sexes, since these were overlaid by Danes, the cultural monuments had to take over this function. Especially the norrønen texts were suitable for this purpose. On the one hand, they represented an independent literature and were a testimony of their own creativity and the high education of their creators. On the other hand, they documented the past of the people and were able to underpin the demand for sovereignty. From the sources it could be deduced that the Norwegian Empire is about the same age as the Danish or Swedish Empirewas. The esthetic appreciation generated the literary-scientific, the content-related the historical interest, whereby historical research became the more important rank for the political scene. This was expressed in the fact that norrøne texts that had no relation to Norway, such as the Icelandic Sagas, were neglected.

The source material was collected and edited, translated and annotated according to scientific standards. This happened in the newly founded university. Leading figures were Rudolf Keyser and his students PA Munchand Carl R. Unger. Keyser also taught the norrøne language at the university. Three commissions were soon established for the publication of historical sources. First came the Legal History Commission, which dealt with the old Norwegian laws. Then the commission for the Diplomatarium Norvegicum was born. The third was the Commission for the Sources Fund, which dealt with the sagas and literature. The activities of all three commissions focused on historical research. This was considered an important national task.

The core of the folk education educational work were the Royal Saga of Heimskringla. They were first translated by Jacob Aall in 1838/1839. It was followed by Munch’s translation in 1859. Further editions appeared in 1871 and 1881. Aalls and Munch’s plan for translation arose a good decade after Grundtvig’s translation into Denmark. The language was not the deciding factor, as also Aall and Munch wrote Danish, albeit enriched with words from Norwegian dialects. Rather, it was important that an authoritative for the Norwegian history text in Norway was translated by Norwegians.

Another field was painting. Adolph Tidemand became the illustrator of national romanticism and publisher Christian Tønsberg with his magnificent illustrated books on Norwegian nature and culture. Another national romantic painter was Knud Bergslien, who belonged to the circle around Tidemand in Dusseldorf. He described the peasant culture as the bearer of the old Norwegian values. The third important painter of Norwegian national romanticism was Johan Fredrik Eckersberg, who worked more in Norway and also ran an art school there, where many painters were trained.

The “Nordic” language
The problem of a national language was ignited by the state of the Norwegian theater. In Christiania, only plays in Danish were performed in the newly built theater in 1827, partly because there were no trained Norwegian-speaking actors, but only professional actors from Copenhagen. This aroused the reluctance of Henrik Arnold Wergelands. In particular, he found it unsuitable for Danish to be spoken in pieces borrowing from Norwegian early history, and ironically wrote to Ridderstad in 1834: “You can believe it is a matter of trust, Håkon Jarl and Sigurdur Jorsalafar, Københaunsk ‘talk. to hear ” He also complaining that the Norwegian share in the Danish literature:Ludvig Holberg, the satirist Claus Fasting, Johan Herman Wessel, the Epic Christians Pram, the lyricists Edvard Storm, Jens Zetlitz, Jonas Rein, Johan Vibe, Christian Braunmann Tullin and Johan Nordahl Brun, the playwright Peter Andreas Heiberg, Envold de Falsen, of which he claimed to have been born in Norway, which is not true in any case, because De Falsen was born in Copenhagen, for example. PA Munch also advocated a specific Norwegian written language, which he sought to gain by “refining” the most widely used Norwegian dialect. He rejected an artificial language composed of all dialects. Unlike Munch and Ivar Aasenhe did not want to wait for a scientific elaboration, but wanted to start immediately, for example, by norwegizing the naming. One should no longer use the meaningless biblical or Christian names, such as Tobias, Daniel, Michael, Anna and so on, not even the sundials such as Jørgen, Bent, Nils, Søren, but national Nordic, meaningful names Olaf, Håkon, Harald, Sigurd, Ragnhild, Astrid and Ingeborg. He was less concerned with the written language, but thought that the first thing to do was to develop the spoken language. For the spoken language leads to national independence.

Danish and Norwegian
There were two languages parallel to the two cultures of Norway: Danish in the upper classes and Norwegian dialects in the rest of the population. Although the dialects were spoken by the majority of the population, they had no written tradition. The patriotic Norwegian literati enriched their Danish with individual vernacular expressions, but the distance between the two languages remained considerable.

What is Norwegian?
In the years after 1814 a discussion arose about the meaning of the word norsk (“Norwegian”). The educated Norwegians used written Danish as a cultural language. Some argued that this Danish was also co-designed by Norwegian writers such as Ludvig Holberg and thus owned jointly by Danes and Norwegians. Therefore, the question arose whether one should call this common written language “Norwegian” or whether one could only call it the Norwegian dialects. In the 1830s, despite Danish protests, the first view prevailed.

Demarcation from the Swedish
The first language dispute in 1816 was the saga translations by Jacob Aall (1773-1844). He had used in his translation some terms that came from the Norwegian dialects, but also found in Swedish. In it, critics of the translation saw signs of an impending linguistic rapprochement with Sweden.

Norway was in the middle of the 19th century in the situation that they had their own state, but no own language. It had been poorly remedied by making the Danish language the common Danish-Norwegian language and calling it Norwegian, but that was unsatisfactory in the long term. This led to different proposals to solve the problem.

Norwegianization of the written language
Some Norwegian writers tried to enrich their Danish written language with Norwegian dialect terms. The dialects that could be used to Norwegianise the vocabulary did not have a high reputation. Although the linguistic connection between Old Norse and Nine-Norwegian dialects was already known, no significant consequences were derived from it.

In the thirties, Henrik Wergeland and his supporters for norskhet (“Norwegianism”) were also jealous of the language. He and his followers demanded not only to separate politically, but also linguistically from Denmark.

Revival of Old Norse
Peter Andreas Munch, a member of the Norwegian Historical School, saw his own language as the most important feature of his own nation. He proposed in 1832 and 1845 to revive the Old Norwegian language.

The historiography
1825 the Nordisk Oldskriftsselskab (“Nordic society for old texts”) was founded in Copenhagen according to the German example. This association gave shortly afterwards some saga- textures. In Norway, this was regarded as a Danish attempt to take possession of “Old Norse” cultural heritage and established a competitive organization that published the Samlinger til det norske Folks Sprog og History (“Collections on the Language and History of the Norwegian People”).

The Norwegian nationalists claimed that the Old Norse (ie Old Scandinavian) literature is not a common Scandinavian property but is exclusively Old Norse. The Old Icelandic literature would (according to them) belong to the Old Norse culture. Old and Old Swedish would be related to Old Norse but clearly distinguishable from them.

Later the Norwegian Historical School was founded around Rudolf Keyser (1803 – 1864) and Peter Andreas Munch (1810 – 1863). This group took care of nationalistic-tinted discussions for about 30 years. From this group came the theory that the North Germans came from Scandinavia to Scandinavia and not via Denmark. This meant, according to the Norwegian Historical School, that the old cultural center would not have been in Denmark but in Norway. In addition, the Danes would have emerged from and mixed up with North and South Germans.

Since 1851, Munch has been working on the book Det Norske Folks Historie (“The history of the Norwegian people”). This book had 6600 pages and it was only the size that made it clear to the superficial reader that Norway already had a considerable history for the Danish-Norwegian human union.

The Norwegian Historical School was romantic and nationalistic and supported the self-awareness of the Norwegian nation in the new state. He paid little attention to the time of the Danish-Norwegian personnel union. The Danish period was only examined in the 1960s by post-romantic historians such as JE Sars. The Norwegian Historical School wanted to show the Norwegians their great past in their new state. He wanted to bring together the old history and the new state.

Folk fairy tales
The national romantics stressed the link between rural culture and the time for the personal union with Denmark. According to the Romantics, the rural population, language, songs, stories and way of thinking from the time of the Norwegian kings had been more or less unchanged. The population of the countryside was therefore “however” and more Norwegian than the population in the cities. The Norwegian peasants had never been serf. The Norwegian liberals were therefore able to use the farmers as a symbol of Norwegian freedom of love.

In 1833 Andreas Faye (1802-1869) published his book Norske Sagn (“Norwegian fairy tales”). Although he was inspired by Jakob Grimm, he wrote in the spirit of Enlightenment and rationalism: he regarded fairytales as products of superstition and ignorance.

The Norske Folke eventyr (“Norwegian folk tales”) of 1841 by Jørgen Moe and Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, on the other hand, were no longer influenced by the Enlightenment but by Romanticism. The style developed by the two fairy-tale collectors was less influenced by the written language and more under the influence of spoken language. The oral style of the fairytale collection was a condition for the somewhat freer style of later Norwegian writers.

In 1852 and 1853, Magnus B. Landstads Norske Folkeviser (“Norwegian folk songs”) appeared in a spelling close to the Old Norse. One reason was that the Norwegian dialects, in which the songs were recorded, had no standardized spelling. The other reason was that an etymological spelling made the connection between the Norwegian dialects and the Old Norse clearer.

The free farmers
Aasen’s ideas received a lot of support from the public, ie the upper layer of the population. They fit well in those days because it was a time of reconsidering the great past and a time of nationalism. At that time the free Norwegian farmer was regarded as the one who had preserved the old Norwegian culture and language. The Aasen program, however, not only had national-romantic elements, but also social ones.

In the first half of the 19th century, the farmers, together with the liberal opposition, demanded more influence on politics. Then the ruling class (the officials) understood that the farmers were a threat to the political and cultural leadership of their state. The revolutions on the mainland confirmed these thoughts, for example the Julian Revolution of 1830 and the revolutions of 1848. Moreover, in the course of time more was known about the lifestyle of the rural population, mainly through research by the sociologist Eilert Sund in the 1960s. Doubts grew as to whether people in the countryside always lived right and naturally. This led to the civilized circles gradually taking distance from the positive image they had made of the peasants.

Switzerland and national romantic painting
Switzerland, like Norway, was in many ways a young nation, which had its current boundaries and independence status in the settlement after the Napoleonic Wars, ie around 1814.

Also, it was felt important to find particular characteristics. The location in central Europe made this both easier and more difficult. Most European artists who would visit Italy, gladly traveled across the Swiss passes. Some of these, such as Jacob van Ruysdael made “Nordic” landscapes already in the 17th century.

In painting, Norwegian and Swiss painters met in the cultivation of the unspoiled nature, with mountains, brooks, waterfalls and small waters or ponds. The landscape became the main theme of the pictures, preferably with famous landmarks. Several of the images were transferred to erasers that were sold in large print.

Famous names in Swiss painting in the period are: Alexandre Calame (1810-1864), François Diday (1802-1877), Barthélemy Men (1815-1893), Wolfgang-Adam Töpffer (1766-1847) and Caspar Wolf (1753-1783) which had a function in Swiss national romance similar to the Peder Balkes in Norway.

Some Norwegian artists also contributed pictures with Swiss motifs, such as, for example, Johan Gørbitz, Knud Baade and Thomas Fearnley.

The End of National
National Romanticism had its wedding around 1845 to 1850.

In the literary field, skepticism and doubt spread in the 1950s, and these were not romantic attitudes. The poet and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard became more influential, to a lesser extent satirists like Heinrich Heine.

In the field of the visual arts, the national romanticism worked longer: The historicizing styles, especially the Neo-Gothic, are probably inconceivable without the romance. Typical of Norway is the dragon style in the 90s of the 19th century. This was the only Neo style based on Old Norse elements. When the personal union with Sweden was dissolved in 1905, the dragon style fell into the background. He was not only a fashion in art, but also an expression of anti-unionist attitude of many Norwegians before 1905. After the dissolution of the union in 1905 his political and demonstrative function was no longer necessary.

Source from Wikipedia