In one of his 1959 poems, the young Georg Johannesen gives advice on who is worth listening to: "You should listen to people / who are still distant / Maybe stay tomorrow / A better day than yesterday / You should listen people / who live as if they lived in a hundred years ». Of course, there is controversy as to whether the council is good, and one has to argue for or against an ironic reading of the sentence. What people are "still distant", in 1959, yesterday, tomorrow? Who lives as if they "lived in a hundred years"? And what about the poem itself, does it demand to be regarded as a grumbling voice of the future?
Will he be remembered?
Let's assume that one of the poem's foremost tasks consists in getting the reader to ask questions, formulate issues. And let us make the claim that the poem, here and now, concerns the question of Georg Johannesen's literary afterlife, his place in an upcoming Norwegian literary history. How will tomorrow's readers relate to Georg Johannesen's work?
About the way in today's oil-rich, postmodern and tabloid Norway you relate (or rather, don't relate to) Ludvig Holberg, Nordahl Grieg and other "Greek" writers? Or will one in the future actually be able to remember a writer like Georg Johannesen?
"Reading Georg Johannesen is one of the most rewarding things a truth-seeking Norwegian can do against the feel-good mood that rests over our best-selling literature and the lack of world understanding that has characterized our foreign policy," wrote Jan Erik Vold in Dagbladet on New Year's Eve 2005, exactly one week after Georg. . .
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