Icelandic literature: The Creation of a Modern Icelandic Style

Continental romanticism and a newly aroused nationalism fed the romantic revival begun in the 1830s by the poets Bjarni Thorarensen (1786–1841) and Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807–45). The first writer of the modern Icelandic short story, Hallgrímsson also influenced Jón Thóroddsen, who wrote the first published Icelandic novel. This movement, whose practitioners created what became the classic Icelandic style of the 19th and 20th cent., was continued by Grimur Thomsen (1820–96), writer of heroic narrative poems; Benedikt Grondal (1826–1907), romantic and humorous poet; Steingrímur Thorsteinsson (1831–1913), lyric poet, satirist, and translator; and Matthías Jochumsson (1835–1920), whose plays mark the beginning of modern Icelandic drama. The towering figure of the period was the historian and statesman Jón Sigurðsson.

The periodical Verdandi [the present], founded in 1882, advanced a new realism—strongly socialistic, individualistic, and anticlerical, and influenced by the Danish critic Georg Brandes. Notable realists include the short-story writer and social critic Gestur Palsson (1852–91); the Icelandic-Canadian poet Stephan G. Stephansson (1853–1927); and the anticlerical satirist and lyric poet Thorsteinn Erlingsson (1858–1914). Einar H. Kvaran (1859–1938), at first a realist, later turned to religious and spiritual themes in his short stories about the poor in Reykjavík. Jón Trausti (pseud. of Guðmundur Magnusson, 1873–1918) in his fiction depicted medieval as well as modern Iceland.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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