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Stig Henning Jacob Puggaard Paludan (1896-1975)


Danish essayist, poet, and novelist, whose sceptic view of his times marked his writings. Paludan was the leading critic of the conservative Copenhagen newspaper Dagens Nyheder, where he often expressed his fear of the Americanization of European culture. Among Paludan's best-known novels are Fugle omkring fyret (1925), Markerne modnes (1927), and the monumental epic Jørgen Stein (1932-33).

"När man säger om en konstnär att han är allvarligt arbetande, menar
man som regel att det inte har gått något vidare för honom."

Jacob Paludan was born in Copenhagen, the son of Professor Julius Paludan, and Gerda Puggaard, 16 years her husband's junior. With the support of conservative academic circles, Julius was appointed in 1892 to the chair of  compartive literature at the University of Copenhagen   a post for which  the leading Scandinavian literary critic Georg Brandes had been the most obvious candidate in 1872, but was not elected. 

Paludan always felt that his older brother Hans Aage was the favoured child. Moreover, Julius never acknowledged his son's accomplishments as a writer, even after the success of Fugle omkring fyret (1925, Birds Around the Light). Originally Paludan was trained as a pharmacist, qualifying in 1918. After periods of unemployment, he went to Ecuador, and before returning to Denmark, he also spent some time in the United States. Paludan's first novel, De vestlige veje, came out in 1922, but he had written for many years, struggling to get his work published. In this emigrant novel, Paludan attacked American urban life, which the author considered materialistic and superficial. Urolige sange (1923), his  only collection of poems, not stir any interest. Søgelys (1923) was a satire on the Danish life-style.

At the death of his uncle, Paludan inherited a sizable fortune and abandoned his career as a pharmacist. Both of his parents died in 1926. Paludan lived at home, and in boarding houses and summer houses, but eventually he settled in  1931 in Birkerød, where he remained for the rest of his life. In 1943 Paludan married Lykke Vibeke von Holck, costume designer.

After 1925 Paludan worked as a literary critic for various newspapers, including Dagens Nyheder, Politiken, and Århus Stiftstidende. In  the semisymbolic novel Fugle omkring fyret Paludan explored the destructive forces of technological progress on nature. It was followed by Paludan's most pessimistic novel, Markerne modnes (1927), a tragic story about two artistically gifted young men who fail in their ambitious aspirations.

Paludan's Jørgen Stein (1932-33) is considered the most important Bildungsroman of Danish literature between the wars. The story follows the attitudes of three generations from pre-World War I period to the disillusioned generation of the 1920s.  Jørgen, the title character, is unable to commit himself either to society or to a woman, but finds finally resignated peace in Marie, a down to earth woman, and in nature and physical work. and . His father faces the breakdown of his conservative world, and his brother, Otto becomes involved in monetary speculations and commits suicide. After Jørgen Stein Paludan did not publish novels, but embarked upon a career as an essayist, starting from Feodor Jansens jeramiader (1927). His early writings often focused on the American way of life and feminism, as exemplified in 'Jansen og det kvindelige' from this volume, in which Paludan claims that women attach themselves to people and men to objects and young women do not need friends but admirers. In Landluft (1944) and Han gik ture (1949) the author contemplated on nature and mystical experiences. Paludan did not ridicule parapsychology but he had suggested in 1945 in a feature article that scientists look into the matter. His sarcastic wit Paludan showed in his two collections of aphorisms, Tanker og bagtanker (1937) and Små apropos'er (1943), which mocked current fashionable trends.

From 1940 Paludan edited Hasselbalchs Kulturbibliotek, a book series that popularized arts and letters. Paludan translated several books into Danish, most notably Sinclair Lewis' Dodsworth. He was a founding member of the Danish Academy, and received several awards, among them Holberg Medal (1939) and Danish Acdemy Prize (1964).

Between the years 1973 and 1973 Paludan published three volumes of memoirs, I høstens månefase (1973), Sløret sandhed (1974), and Vink fra en fjern virkelighet (1975). Posthumously appeared another volume of memoirs, Låsens klik (1976). Paludan died in Birkerød, near Copenhagen, on September 26 in 1975.

For further reading: Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, Vol. 3, ed.  Steven R. Serafin (1999); Janus fra Thisted: Jacob Paludan som romankunstner by Henrik Oldenburg (1988); Jacob Paludan: historien om et venskab by Henrik Oldenburg (1984); A History of Scandinavian Literature, 1870-1980 by Sven H. Rossel (1982); Jakob Paludan, en bibliografi by B. Børge (1980); Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature, ed. by Jean-Albert Bédé and William B. Edgerton (1980); Jacob Paludan by Emil Frederiksen (1966); Contemporary Danish Authors by J. Claudi (1952); Jacob Paludan by Orla Lundbo (1943); Jacob Paludan by Søren Hallar (1927)

Selected works:

  • De vestlige veje, 1922
  • Søgelys, 1923
  • Urolige sange, 1923
  • En vinter long, 1924
  • Fugle omkring fyret, 1925 - Birds Around the Light (tr.  Grace Isabel Colbron, 1928)
  • Markerne modnes, 1927
  • Feodor Jansens jeremiader, 1927
  • Landet forude; et spil om utopien, 1928
  • Året rundt, 1929
  • Jørgen Stein, 1932-33 (2 vols.) - Jørgen Stein (tr. Carl Malmberg, 1966)
  • Tanker og bagtanker, 1937
  • Chr. Kongstad Petersens Tegninger, 1937 (ed.)
  • Som om intet var haendt, 1938
  • Smaa apropos'er, 1943
  • Søgrende aander: redegørelser og debatter, 1943
  • Landluft, 1944
  • Mit kaktusvindu. Mandens blads satiriske kavalkade, 1944
  • Bøger på min vej, 1946
  • Prosa: korte ting fra tyve år, 1946
  • Bøger paa min Vej. Et Causeri, 1946 (illustrated by  Robert Storm-Petersen)
  • Facetter, 1947
  • Skribenter paa yderposter: redegørelser og debatter, 1949
  • Han gik ture, 1949
  • Retur til barndommen, 1951
  • Jacob Paludan, et udvalg ved Hakon Stangerup, 1951
  • Fremad til nutiden, 1953
  • Sagt i korthed, 1929-1954, 1954
  • Bøger, poeter, og stilister, 1954
  • Aalborg i min ungdoms vår, 1955
  • Litterært selskab. 32 knoniker of essays, 1956
  • Den lille bog om de gode glaeder, 1956
  • Skribent at være, 1957
  • Glæde over Danmark, 1958
  • Røgringe, 1959
  • En kunstsamlers meditationer, 1960
  • Landeveje og tankeveje; udvalgte essays fra tredive aar, 1963 (3 vols.)
  • Mørkeblaat og sort, 1965
  • Oluf Høst: Tegninger og notater, 1966 (introduction)
  • Siden De spørger--og andre Omkredsninger, 1968
  • Her omkring Hjørnet, her blæser det mindre, 1969
  • Draabespil. Fjorten Stykker, skrevet ved Anledning, 1971
  • Skrivebord og stjernehimmel, 1972 (ed.  Niels Birger Wamberg)
  • I høstens månefase. Lidt af en livsregistrering, 1973
  • Sløret sandhed: lidt af en livsregistrering, 1974
  • Vink fra en fjern virkelighet, 1975
  • Låsens klik: lidt af en livsregistrering, 1976
  • Breve fra Jacob Paludan til Thorvald Petersen, 1999 (ed.  Niels Stengaard

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