The Long Journey

by Johannes V. Jensen

Start Free Trial

Places Discussed

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Gunung Api

Gunung Api. Volcano in whose vicinity the Forest Folk first domesticate fire in Fire and Ice. Its exact location is unspecified, but it lies on the far side of the Baltic Sea from Sealand. Its slopes are surrounded by the vast and richly populated Forest of Change: a paradise whose memory gives rise to the myths of Eden, the Isles of the Blest, and the world-tree Ygdrasil, while Gunung Api itself is the archetype of Loki and Lucifer. Gunung Api’s ultimate fate is to be ground down by glaciation and deposited as shingle in the Baltic, but the fire it provides allows a distinctive people—formed by an intermingling of the Forest Folk and the Ice Folk—to thrive in Scandinavia. They follow a nomadic existence as hunter-gatherers, whose legacy is a hereditary restlessness, until the crucial inventions of agriculture and animal husbandry permit a further diversification of folkways.


*Sealand. Major eastern landmass of what is now Denmark; part of an archipelago separating the Baltic Sea from the Cattegat channel. A Sealand fjord is the birthplace of Norna Gest, the immortal hero of The Cimbrians and rediscoverer of the technological rudiments of seafaring. The development of sailing ships allows Gest’s family to colonize Sweden before he embarks on a world-encompassing odyssey in search of the Land of the Dead.

Migration routes

Migration routes. Gest’s fellows institute a great Stone Age migration, crossing the Baltic and penetrating the heart of continental Europe, then proceeding across Asia, eventually moving across the land bridge, where the Bering Strait now is, into the Americas (where Gest is long remembered in Tenochtitlán as Quetzalcoatl). Some move south from Asia into the South Seas, while others meet up again with the descendants of the Forest Folk who have remained in southern Europe, Asia Minor, and Africa all the while. Further waves of migration continually reiterate the elements of this pattern, including the one taking place in the early centuries of the Common Era, which brings Christophorus and the Longobards southward from the Gothic homeland in the first part of Christopher Columbus.


*Jutland. Continental part of Denmark, to which Gest frequently returns as a scald. Cimberland, the doomed heartland of the pagan culture featured in the second part of The Cimbrians, is a hilly tableland in the northern region, bounded by the Limfjord.


*Rome. Center of the Mediterranean empire disrupted by the descendants of the displaced Cimbrians and the allies they make on their trek through Gaul. Rome’s slave-market, through which the women of the defeated Cimbrians are sold, becomes the principal conduit by which the spirit of the north reinfects the world formulated by the descendants of the ancient Forest Folk. In the garden of the sculptor Cheiron, beside the river Tiber, Vedis is immortalized in her own way.

*St. George’s Church

*St. George’s Church. Church in Palos, Spain, in which a service is held in August, 1492, for the crews of the three departing ships commanded by the eponymous hero of Christopher Columbus. Its appearance is momentary, but carries tremendous symbolic significance because the preceding section of the narrative has established a key metaphor by which the architectural design of actual churches, and the Roman Catholic Church as an institution, recapitulate the image of a ship akin to that which carried Norna Gest away from Sealand and began the first great migration.

*Santa Maria

*Santa Maria . Columbus’s flagship, whose actual historical significance is further increased by its symbolic identification with the Church—an association which permits Columbus’s arrival in the Americas to broaden out almost immediately...

(This entire section contains 653 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

into a wide-ranging synoptic account of the European colonization of the continent. TheSanta Maria continues as a phantom; her course intersects that of the HMS Beagle—the ship that centuries later carries Charles Darwin on his epoch-making journey of discovery to the Americas—en route to the stars.


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Bredsdorff, Elias, Brita Mortensen, and Ronald Popperwell. An Introduction to Scandinavian Literature. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1951. Surveys Jensen’s achievements as a novelist and poet. Calls The Long Journey the novelist’s most important fictional work; comments on Jensen’s reliance on Darwinian theory as the basis for his assessment of human nature.

Mitchell, P. M. A History of Danish Literature. Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1957. Summarizes Jensen’s career and influence. Describes The Long Journey as a work heavily influenced by Darwinism; claims characters serve as types symbolizing the cultural and technical progress of humankind.

Rossel, Sven H. A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870-1980. Translated by Anne Ulmer. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982. Describes Jensen as a literary pathfinder for twentieth century Scandinavian writing. Explains how his early prose essays form the ideological basis for the plot and theme of The Long Journey.

Rossel, Sven H. Johannes V. Jensen. Boston: Twayne, 1984. Introductory study containing a chapter on the novelist’s handling of mythic themes in his novels, including The Long Journey; claims the work vivifies a central theme in Jensen’s work, the longing for the lost land of Paradise. Explains how the author viewed the novel as a kind of Bible for modern times.

Topsöe-Jensen, H. G. Scandinavian Literature: From Brandes to Our Day. Translated by Isaac Anderson. New York: W. W. Norton, 1929. Reviews the literary achievement of a writer considered the central figure in Danish literature in the early decades of the century. Considers The Long Journey to be one of several works in which Jensen dramatizes humankind’s evolutionary progress.


Critical Essays