An Essay Toward a History of Shakespeare in Norway by Martin Brown Ruud


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Page 1

It is my plan to follow this monograph with a second on the history of
Shakespeare in Denmark.


M.B.R.

Minneapolis, Minnesota.
September, 1916.




CHAPTER I

Shakespeare Translations In Norway


A

In the years following 1750, there was gathered in the city of Trondhjem
a remarkable group of men: Nils Krog Bredal, composer of the first

rector of the Cathedral School and author of an elaborate history of the
fatherland, and Peter Suhm, whose 14,047 pages on the history of Denmark
testify to a learning, an industry, and a generous devotion to
scholarship which few have rivalled. Bredal was mayor (Borgermester),

merely the husband of a rich and unsympathetic wife. But they were
united in their interest in serious studies, and in 1760, the last
three--somewhat before Bredal's arrival--founded "Videnskabsselkabet i
Trondhjem." A few years later the society received its charter as "Det
Kongelige Videnskabsselskab."

A little provincial scientific body! Of what moment is it? But in those
days it was of moment. Norway was then and long afterwards the political
and intellectual dependency of Denmark. For three hundred years she had
been governed more or less effectively from Copenhagen, and for two
hundred years Danish had supplanted Norwegian as the language of church
and state, of trade, and of higher social intercourse. The country had
no university; Norwegians were compelled to go to Copenhagen for their
degrees and there loaf about in the anterooms of ministers waiting for
preferment. Videnskabsselskabet was the first tangible evidence of
awakened national life, and we are not surprised to find that it was in
this circle that the demand for a separate Norwegian university was
first authoritatively presented. Again, a little group of periodicals
sprang up in which were discussed, learnedly and pedantically, to be
sure, but with keen intelligence, the questions that were interesting
the great world outside. It is dreary business ploughing through these
solemn, badly printed octavos and quartos. Of a sudden, however, one
comes upon the first, and for thirty-six years the only Norwegian
translation of Shakespeare.

We find it in _Trondhjems Allehaande_ for October 23, 1782--the third
and last volume. The translator has hit upon Antony's funeral oration
and introduces it with a short note:[1] "The following is taken from
the famous English play _Julius Caesar_ and may be regarded as a
masterpiece. When Julius Caesar was killed, Antonius secured permission
from Brutus and the other conspirators to speak at his funeral. The
people, whose minds were full of the prosperity to come, were satisfied
with Caesar's murder and regarded the murderers as benefactors. Antonius
spoke so as to turn their minds from rejoicing to regret at a great
man's untimely death and so as to justify himself and win the hearts of
the populace. And in what a masterly way Antonius won them! We shall
render, along with the oration, the interjected remarks of the crowd,
inasmuch as they too are evidences of Shakespeare's understanding of
the human soul and his realization of the manner in which the oration
gradually brought about the purpose toward which he aimed:"

[1. It has been thought best to give such citations for the most
part in translation.]

Antonius:






Brutus er en hederlig Mand, og det er de alle, lutter hederlige

trofast og oprigtig mod mig! dog, Brutus siger, han var herskesyg,
og Brutus er en hederlig Mand. Han har bragt mange Fanger med til



herskesyg; og Brutus er en hederlig Mand. I have alle seet at jeg

Gange afslog den. Var det herskesygt?--Dog Brutus siger han var
herskesyg, og i Sandhed, han er en hederlig Mand. Jeg taler ikke for
at gjendrive det, som Brutus har sagt; men jeg staar her, for at
sige hvad jeg veed. I alle elskede ham engang, uden Aarsag; hvad for


Forstand. Haver Taalmodighed med mig; mit Hjerte er hist i Kisten


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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 24th Nov 2017, 7:27