Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger’s choice of subject matter for his plays was very much in line with the philosophy of the time. To him, as well as to other writers of the epoch, the national spirit was to be found in indigenous folklore. This view stimulated enormous research into folk songs and medieval tales, resulting in a rediscovery of the old sagas. Oehlenschläger stated that mythology was the product of a nation’s characters and way of thinking. Thus, one must look at his literary production as the point of departure for a new Danish national literary tradition. This fact is one of the prime reasons for his success with audiences.
Midsummer Night’s Play
Midsummer Night’s Play, a lyric drama, appeared in the collection Digte in 1803. This is the only play by Oehlenschläger that is set in contemporary Denmark, and the author uses the local setting as backdrop for a Romantic polemic against the rationalist philosophy of life and its expression in the arts.
The plot line of Midsummer Night’s Play is very thin and is subordinate to the polemicizing of the proponents of the various viewpoints. Maria has been farmed out and hidden with another family by her mother because she has fallen in love with Ludvig, a man above her in social standing. Ludvig loves Maria also, and they meet surreptitiously at a picnic at the popular Bakken, an amusement park for Copenhageners then and now. Within...
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