Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger was an accomplished poet. He wrote very few prose texts but contributed greatly to the genre of the lyric epic poem. In addition, Oehlenschläger is highly acclaimed for his straightforward lyric poetry.
In 1797, one of the most important contemporary Danish journals pronounced the Golden Age of poetry and culture dead, but within five years of this pronouncement some of the giants of intellectual life in Denmark were to make their presence felt. Among them were Bertel Thorvaldsen, whose sculptures in the classic tradition made him famous beyond the national borders, Hans Christian Ørsted, whose contribution to the natural sciences is still recognized today, and Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger. The celebrated Danish literary critic Georg Brandes stated in 1886 that Oehlenschläger’s Aladdin represents the point of departure of more recent Danish literary culture.
Like most other Romantic poets, Oehlenschläger must be seen in his historical context. He grew up in a world that was going through successive political crises. Denmark was to experience its worst trauma in centuries in the English bombing of Copenhagen in 1807, the loss of Norway to Sweden as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, and the state bankruptcy of 1813. Against this political backdrop, the dominant direction of belletristic literature was to turn away from reality to seek solace in aesthetic and religious values. Imagination was the tool with which Romanticism tried to embrace the whole world, to understand its secrets, and to arrive at an explanation for the meaning of life. This aim was not to be achieved by means of scientific striving and research; above all, it was the province of...
Aage, Jøorgenson. Idyll and Abyss: Essays on Danish Literature and Theater. Seattle, Wash.: Mermaid Press, 1992. A chapter in this work is devoted to a discussion of Oehlenschläger, with emphasis on his poetry. Bibliography.
Bernd, Clifford A. Poetic Realism in Scandinavia and Central Europe, 1820-1895. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1995. This volume covers poetry in Denmark at the time when Oehlenschläger was writing. Bibliography and index.