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The Norwegian essay

A somewhat arbitrary – or should we say unnatural – overview of the essayist in our small country.

Michel_de_Montaigne_1
Michel de Montaigne. Photo: Wikimedia

What can be said about the Norwegian essay – both the informal essay in a Montagueian tradition, and the more formal, non-prosaic essay that may be reminiscent of an academic chronicle or article – since it is almost non-existent, or at least it was, before the on-going Bergensian Georg Johannesen took the magazine from his mouth and got his then publisher Gyldendal to publish his compiled essays: About the Norwegian way of thinking (1975)? A few years later came About the Norwegian way of writing (1981), and in 1976 came Jan Erik Volds Enthusiastic essays. All three came out on Gyldendal's Torch Books, and then Gyldendal was at the forefront, so to speak.

Oslo 20020912 Poet Jan Erik Vold. Blue sky and sun in the background. Photo: Erlend Aas / Scanpix
Jan Erik Vold. Photo: Erlend Aas / Scanpix

After Johannesen and Vold came a number of "profile authors" with their essays, because in many ways the modern Norwegian essay is included in journals. Since the Norwegian newspapers have a weak intellectual habitus, the magazines took over, and they continue to take over (even now, with Klassekampen as something completely unique in Norwegian press history, and the weekly newspapers Morgenbladet and Dag & Tid, not to forget the monthly newspaper Ny Tid), with magazines such as The Window, Vagant and Agora. . .

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