The New International Encyclopædia/Oehlenschläger, Adam Gottlob

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OEHLENSCHLÄGER, ẽ'len-shlā'gẽr, Adam Gottlob (1779-1850). A great Danish poet and dramatist, born of German ancestry at Vesterbro, near Copenhagen. He was irregularly educated; was destined first for trade, then for the university, and then went on the stage. After failure as an actor he studied law, but in 1802 he quitted law to devote himself to literature. In the symbolic poem Guldhornene he declared his new faith, destroyed older verses then in the printer's hands, and composed in haste new ones in their place that made him undisputed head of the new Romanticists. From 1805 to 1809 he traveled on a Government stipend, visiting Goethe, Madame de Staël, and other noted writers. In 1810 he was made professor of æsthetics at Copenhagen, but did not long retain this position. In 1829 he was crowned by Tegnér as King of the Singers of the North. He was similarly honored at the royal palace in Copenhagen in 1849, and his funeral, two months later, was made a national solemnity. Oehlenschläger's importance lies in drama, beginning with Sanct Hans Aaften-Spil (1803), followed by a series of national tragedies, Hakon Jarl (1807; English trans. 1875), Baldur hin Gode, Karl den Store, Palnatoke, Axel og Yalborg, Vaeringerne i Miklagaard, and thirteen others, together with five of a more general character, of which the first, Correggio (German, 1807; Danish, 1811; English trans., 1854), is typical. Oehlenschläger's dramas, like those of other Romanticists, show epic and lyric rather than dramatic qualities. They are genuinely national, most of them rooted in the popular sagas, and they show unrivaled command of language. Through them he gave the Eddas new life. By his youthful Poems (1805) he revealed unexpected lyric possibilities in the Danish language. Of these poems perhaps the dranintic fairy tale Aladdin is most significant. His later lyric and epic work is not of great value, except Nordens Guder (Gods of the North, 1819), an effort to utilize Norse mythology for modern poetry. Oehlenschläger's Works are in 26 volumes, comprising dramas, memoirs, miscellaneous prose and verse (Copenhagen, 1851-54). For his life consult Arentzen (Copenhagen, 1879) and Nielson (ib., 1879).