Esaias Tegnér (tehng-NAYR) wrote the vast majority of his literary output in poetic forms; however, he did write sermons (kyrklinga tal) and other ecclesiastical works in his role as bishop of Växjö, and gave orations on other writings as a member of the Swedish Academy. Perhaps the most notable of the orations was his academic address on Johan Gabriel Oxenstierna, his predecessor in the academy, in which he influentially stated that language, as such, had fallen from the pure imagistic state for which it could only be a metaphor. Both his church and secular writings show Tegnér’s considerable learning in Greek; in his lifetime, he was not only Sweden’s foremost poet but its foremost academic philologist.
Esaias Tegnér was the first Swedish writer to make a serious impact on world literature. Although Romanticism and its concomitant interest in folklore and legend played a part in this achievement, Tegnér’s influence can be attributed mainly to his aesthetic sensitivity, his distinct and independent character, and the way his verse often espoused attitudes in direct contrast to those that might have been expected of it. Tegnér also demonstrated that a poet of feeling and authenticity could also be a figure of great learning and retain a deep respect for the past.
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Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. “Tegnér’s Frithiofs Saga.” The North American Review 45, no. 96 (July, 1837): 149-185.
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