The Promised Landby Henrik Pontoppidan Analysis

Henrik Pontoppidan

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Skibberup. One of two rival villages in rural Denmark that make up Emanuel’s parish, the other being Veilby. Skibberup is the poorer of the two villages because the three hills on which it stands are almost an island, surrounded by bog land. It has a red-tiled meeting house, two church towers, and three windmills. The fields of the parish have been enlivened by a new system of fertilization, which involves spreading manure immediately rather than letting it fester in the dunghills that are dismissed by the novelist as symbolic relics of serfdom.

The land ripens brightly in summer, when Emanuel looks out upon it from the shade of a mountain ash tree at a high point on the road connecting Skibberup and Veilby. He sees, ominously, that his own harvest will be meager by comparison with those of his neighbors, partly because of his lack of native skill and partly because of the demoralizing aftereffects of Laddie’s death.

Veilby parsonage

Veilby parsonage. Once-palatial building situated on high ground between Veilby and Skibberup whose red roof and high poplar avenues rise above the slate roofs of the peasant farmhouses. It has an arched gateway and big courtyard, but the latter is now full of agricultural equipment and stores, with chickens foraging among the litter. The parsonage’s rooms have been stripped of all the finery with which they were decorated by the former tenant, Archdeacon Tönnesen. The former “salon” is now empty of furniture, save for benches running around its walls, and is lit by a single petroleum lamp; the other rooms are unused, except for the former day room, which is now the...

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The Promised Land Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Gray, Charlotte Schiander. “From Opposition to Identification: The Social and Psychological Structure Behind Henrik Pontoppidan’s Literary Development.” Scandinavian Studies 51 (Summer, 1979): 273-284. Explicitly influenced by Freudian psychological theory. Sees Emmanuel Hansted as a kind of negative parallel to the author. Pontoppidan swerves away from Hansted’s excessive idealism in his own authorial perspective.

Jones, W. Glyn. “Henrik Pontoppidan (1857-1943).” Modern Language Review 52, no. 3 (July, 1957): 576-583. Emphasizes Pontoppidan’s interest in Danish history and politics, especially his relationship to the Estrup regime. Sees the novel as the author’s moral judgment upon the Danish nation.

Madsen, Borge. “The Promised Land.” In Scandinavian Studies, edited by Carl F. Bayerschmidt and Erik J. Friis. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1965. Emphasizes the inner psychology of Emmanuel Hansted, exploring the motivations behind his impracticality and the novel’s ambivalent perspective toward the fantastic.

Mitchell, P. M. Henrik Pontoppidan. Boston: Twayne, 1979. The only book-length study of Pontoppidan in English. Emphasizes the novel’s skepticism toward traditional Danish state and church structures. Discusses the novel within the wider context of Pontopiddan’s career in which it was not the final word. An excellent beginning for further study.

Robertson, John George. “Henrik Pontopiddan.” In Essays and Addresses on Literature, 1935. Reprint. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1968. Explores the novel as a manual for the disillusioned. Sees Pontopiddan’s work as heavily influenced by Henrik Ibsen.