The New International Encyclopædia/Geijer, Erik Gustaf

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The New International Encyclopædia
Geijer, Erik Gustaf
Edition of 1906. See also Erik Gustaf Geijer on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

GEIJER, yī'ẽr, Erik Gustaf (1783-1847). A Swedish historian, poet, and composer, born at Ransäter, Wermland, January 12, 1783. He was educated at the Gymnasium of Karlstad and at the University of Upsala, and in 1803 competed successfully for an historical prize offered by the Academy of Sciences at Stockholm. In 1806 he obtained his master's degree from Upsala, and in 1809 traveled in England. The year following he became a lecturer in history at Upsala, and in 1815 assistant to Fant. In 1817, on the death of his chief, Geijer was made professor in his place. Geijer was hardly less famous as a poet than as an historian, and he exercised a marked influence on the poetic literature of Sweden. According to the testimony of his countrymen, his Sista Skalden, Vikingen, Odalbonden, and other heroic pieces place him in the foremost rank of Swedish poets. He and his friends Adlerbeth, Tegner, and Nikander adhered to the ‘Gothic’ School of poetry, which owed its origin to the Society of the Goths, established as early as 1810; they published at the same time a magazine, Iduna (1811-24), in which first appeared several of Geijer's best poems. Great as is the value of Geijer's historical works, he did not complete any one of the vast undertakings which he planned. Of the Svea Rikes häfder (or Records of Sweden), which were to have embraced the history of his native country from mythical ages to his own times, he finished only the introductory volume. His Svenska folkets historia (3 vols., 1832-36), which was intended to form one of the series of European histories edited by Leo and Ukert, was not carried beyond the abdication of Queen Christina (1654), the reason probably being the author's conversion to liberalism in history and politics; yet, incomplete as they are, those works rank among the most valuable contributions to Swedish history. To Geijer was intrusted the task of examining and editing the papers which Gustavus III. (q.v.) had bequeathed to the University of Upsala, with the stipulation that they were not to be opened for fifty years after his death. In fulfillment of his charge, Geijer arranged these papers in a work which appeared in 1843-45 under the title of Gusstaf III:s efterlemnade papper; but they contained little or nothing of value. During the last ten years of his life Geijer took an active part in politics; but although his political writings possess great merit, the very versatility of his powers diverted him from applying them methodically to the complete elaboration of any one subject. In addition to being an historian, poet, and publicist, Geijer was well known as a musician and composer of no mean order. He set many of his own songs to stirring music, and poems of his rendering appear in the Swedish Service Book. In 1814-15 he coöperated with Afzelius in producing a three-volume edition of Swedish folk-songs of the Middle Ages. In 1846 increasing ill health forced him to resign his position as professor at Upsala. He died April 23, 1847, at Stockholm. He left some personal memoirs of value, Minnen (Upsala, 1834). His collected works, Samlade Skrifter, with a bibliographic treatise by Teodblad (8 vols.), appeared at Stockholm (1873-75). His History of the Swedes down to Charles X. was translated into English by Turner, with biographical introduction (London, 1845). For brief biographical treatises, consult: Malmstroem (Upsala, 1848); Fries (Stockholm, 1849); and Carlson (Stockholm, 1870).