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A Nordic Canon

by Lars Aronsson

(en liknande text finns även på svenska)

Does a Nordic canon exist? Is it even desirable? You can decide for yourself. We are providing some different voices on this topic, compiling lists from rankings and statistics indicating which books, authors, and kinds of literature are better or more popular than the rest.

One ranking is established by awarding the Nobel Prize for literature.

When Project Runeberg published an electronic facsimile edition of the history of Danish literature by Fr. Winkel Horn, we counted the number of pages devoted to each author, thus using bibliometrics to establish an instant ranking of that author's then current view of their importance. See the preface to the electronic edition of Fr. Winkel Horn, Den danske Literaturs Historie fra dens Begyndelse til vore Dage, 1881.

As part of Project Runeberg, we compile presentations of many Nordic Authors. Each author's presentation is a web page with a unique URL. Statistics from the web server helps us find the Most Popular Nordic Authors.

The Nordic countries are part of the western civilization, and if there is a Nordic canon it should be related to the one described by Harold Bloom, The Western Canon. The Books and School of the Ages, 1994. In the appendices of this book, Bloom only lists very few Nordic authors:

A. The Theocratic Age - none
B. The Aristocratic Age - none
C. The Democratic Age
Henrik Ibsen of Norway (Brand, Peer Gynt, Emperor and Galilean, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder, The Lady from the Sea, When We Dead Awaken)
August Strindberg of Sweden (To Damascus, Miss Julie, The Father, The Dance of Death, The Ghost Sonata, A Dream Play)
D. The Chaotic Age: A Canonical Prophecy (none of these authors are in the public domain yet)
Isak Dinesen of Denmark, pen name of Karen Blixen (Winter's Tale, Seven Gothic Tales)
Martin Andersen Nexø of Denmark (Pelle the Conqueror)
Knut Hamsun of Norway (Hunger, Pan)
Sigrid Undset of Norway (Kristin Lavransdatter)
Gunnar Ekelöf of Sweden (Guide to the Underworld)
Tomas Tranströmer of Sweden, (Selected Poems)
Pär Lagerkvist of Sweden (Barabbas)
Lars Gustafsson of Sweden (Selected Poems)


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