1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Welhaven, Johann Sebastian Cammermeyer

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 28
Welhaven, Johann Sebastian Cammermeyer

WELHAVEN, JOHANN SEBASTIAN CAMMERMEYER (1807–1873), Norwegian poet and critic, was born at Bergen, the son of a pastor, in 1807. He first studied theology, but from 1828 onwards devoted himself to literature. In 1840 he became reader and subsequently professor of philosophy at Christiania, and delivered a series of impressive lectures on literary subjects. In 1836 he visited France and Germany; and in 1858 he went to Italy to study archaeology. His influence was extended by his appointment as director of the Society of Arts. He died at Christiania on the 21st of October 1873. Welhaven made his name as the representative of conservatism in Norwegian literature. In a violent attack on Wergeland’s poetry he opposed the theories of the extreme nationalists. He desired to see Norwegian culture brought into line with that of other European countries, and he himself followed the romantic tradition, being, most closely influenced by J. L. Heiberg. He represented clearness and moderation against the extravagances of Wergeland. He gave an admirable practical exposition of his aesthetic creed in the sonnet cycle Norges Daemring (1834). He published a volume of Digte in 1839; and in 1845 Nyere Digte. The collections of old Norse poetry made by Asbjörnsen and Moe influenced his talent, and he first showed his full powers as a poet in Nyere Digte. His descriptive poetry is admirable, but his best work was inspired by his poems on old Norse subjects, in which he gives himself unreservedly to patriotic enthusiasm. Other poems followed in 1848, 1851 and 1859.

His critical work includes Ewald og de norske Digtere (1863), On Ludwig Holberg (1854). Welhaven’s Samlede Skrifter were published in 8 vols. at Copenhagen (1867–1869).