Scandinavian Drama Since the 1600's Introduction


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

The Scandinavian countries have been heavily influenced by and have heavily borrowed from one another throughout their dramatic histories. At the same time, these Nordic countries—notably Norway, Denmark, and Sweden—have been influenced by European humanist literary trends that have played a major role in enhancing Scandinavian drama. Under Swedish control until 1809, Finland did not produce much literature until the late nineteenth century, when a ban was lifted to allow original productions as well as numerous translations of literature. Isolated from the other Scandinavian countries and economically dependent on Norway and then Denmark, Iceland did not acquire complete independence until 1944. Iceland produced thirteenth century sagas, lyric poetry, and histories, but no drama until the late nineteenth century.

From the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, Norwegian folk literature was the main form of literary production. A few royal documents, Danish bibles, poems, and ballads also were produced. The dramatic history of Norway was largely affected by and dependent on the country’s union with Denmark in the late fourteenth century, by its subsequent assimilation of the Danish language, and by its remaining under Danish control until 1814, when it created its own constitution.

Scandinavian drama in the first half of the sixteenth century was significantly affected by the Reformation, which seemed to sterilize literary production in all the Scandinavian countries. Because the Epiphany plays and gospel reenactments—which were influenced by European drama—were disallowed...

(The entire section is 657 words.)