Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/433

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
421
LITERARY NOTICES.

History of the Literature of the Scandinavian North. By Frederik W. Horn, Ph. D. Revised by the author, and translated by Rasmus B. Anderson. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. Pp. 500. Price, $3.50.

The inhabitants of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland once spoke a common language, and were closely alike in manners and customs. Hence the remnants of their early compositions which have been preserved in writing are treated in this work as forming a single literature. After giving an account of the ancient collections of poems known as the Elder and Younger Edda, the author goes on to trace the development of the Skaldic poetry, and follows this with an account of the Sagas. As the present language of Iceland has varied less from the original tongue than either the Swedish or the Dano-Norwegian, an account of the modern Icelandic literature naturally follows the chapter on the Old Norse. In the second division of the book, the literatures of Denmark and Norway are taken up together; the first two chapters trace their progress through the "Middle Age" and the "Age of the Reformation." Then follows "The Period of Learning" (1560-1700), characterized by the supremacy of the Latin language and of theological learning. The next fifty years are described as the time of Holberg. Of this powerful writer of comedies the author says: "He not only cleared the ground, and winnowed away a vast amount of rubbish which had hindered the development of intellectual life, but, what was of chief importance, the barriers were thrown down which had for centuries separated the people from the learned class, and which the Reformation, with its fresh breath sweeping through the northern lands, had not been able to remove." The period from 1750 to 1800 is called "The Age of Enlightenment," during which appeared Johannes Ewald, whom the author rates as "one of the greatest lyric poets of the North—perhaps even the very greatest." With the present century begins the period of modern Danish literature, whose foremost representative is Oehlenschläger. During this time have appeared also the well-known names, H. C. Andersen, Paluden-Müller, Oersted, Steenstrup, Rask, and Madvig. The literature of Norway since 1814, when that country obtained its independence, is treated in a separate chapter. In Swedish literary history, after the period of the Reformation, came "The Stjernhjclm Period" (1640-1740), which was the time of "Sweden's golden age." Then follow the "Dalin Age" and the "Gustavian Period," bringing the history to 1800. Other Swedish writers of the present century to whom prominence is given are Almquist, Fredrika Bremer, Rydberg, Von Braun, and Runeberg. There is appended to the volume a comprehensive catalogue by Thorwald Solberg, of the Library of Congress, of important books and magazine articles relating to the Scandinavian countries, their language and mythology, which have appeared in English.

Life and Times of the Right Hon. John Bright. By William Robertson, author of "Old and New Rochdale." London, Paris, and New York: Cassell & Co., Limited. Pp. 588. Price, $2.50.

"One anecdote of a man is worth a volume of biography," said Channing; and, in conformity to this dictum, the author's plan has been, "besides resetting gems that adorn Mr. Bright's speeches, to weave into the biography interesting information which is not generally known, and which has been collected especially and solely for this work.'* The extracts from speeches are numerous, embracing Mr. Bright's utterances on a wide range of subjects, from the temperance question, on which he made his first public speech at the age of nineteen, to the land-troubles in Ireland. The book is a very readable account of the career of one of the most highly esteemed of living states.

The Evidence for Evolution in the History of the Extinct Mammalia. By E. D. Cope, of Philadelphia, Pa. Printed at the Salem Press, Salem, Mass. Pp. 19.

This essay comprises the substance of a paper read before the American Association at its Minneapolis meeting last year. It is a presentment of the subject, made by an author whose extensive acquaintance with the extinct mammalia of our continent—the remains of which he has largely contributed in bringing to light—makes him peculiarly competent to deal with it.