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Title: An Essay Toward a History of Shakespeare in Norway
Author: Ruud, Martin Brown, 1885-1941
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Essay Toward a History of Shakespeare in Norway" ***

           The University of Chicago

               OF SHAKESPEARE IN

                 A Dissertation

            Submitted to the Faculty
 of the Graduate School of Arts and Literature
        in Candidacy for the Degree of
              Doctor of Philosophy
      Department of Germanics and English

               MARTIN BROWN RUUD

                 Reprint from
        Scandinavian Studies and Notes
               Urbana, Illinois

              The Collegiate Press
        George Banta Publishing Company
               Menasha, Wisconsin

       *       *       *       *       *


I have attempted in this study to trace the history of Shakespearean
translations, Shakespearean criticism, and the performances of
Shakespeare's plays in Norway. I have not attempted to investigate
Shakespeare's influence on Norwegian literature. To do so would not,
perhaps, be entirely fruitless, but it would constitute a different
kind of work.

The investigation was made possible by a fellowship from the University
of Chicago and a scholarship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation,
and I am glad to express my gratitude to these bodies for the
opportunities given to me of study in the Scandinavian countries.
I am indebted for special help and encouragement to Dr. C.N. Gould
and Professor J.M. Manly, of the University of Chicago, and to the
authorities of the University library in Kristiania for their unfailing
courtesy. To my wife, who has worked with me throughout, my obligations
are greater than I can express.

It is my plan to follow this monograph with a second on the history of
Shakespeare in Denmark.


Minneapolis, Minnesota.
September, 1916.


Shakespeare Translations In Norway


In the years following 1750, there was gathered in the city of Trondhjem
a remarkable group of men: Nils Krog Bredal, composer of the first
Danish opera, John Gunnerus, theologian and biologist, Gerhart Schøning,
rector of the Cathedral School and author of an elaborate history of the
fatherland, and Peter Suhm, whose 14,047 pages on the history of Denmark
testify to a learning, an industry, and a generous devotion to
scholarship which few have rivalled. Bredal was mayor (Borgermester),
Gunnerus was bishop, Schøning was rector, and Suhm was for the moment
merely the husband of a rich and unsympathetic wife. But they were
united in their interest in serious studies, and in 1760, the last
three--somewhat before Bredal's arrival--founded "Videnskabsselkabet i
Trondhjem." A few years later the society received its charter as "Det
Kongelige Videnskabsselskab."

A little provincial scientific body! Of what moment is it? But in those
days it was of moment. Norway was then and long afterwards the political
and intellectual dependency of Denmark. For three hundred years she had
been governed more or less effectively from Copenhagen, and for two
hundred years Danish had supplanted Norwegian as the language of church
and state, of trade, and of higher social intercourse. The country had
no university; Norwegians were compelled to go to Copenhagen for their
degrees and there loaf about in the anterooms of ministers waiting for
preferment. Videnskabsselskabet was the first tangible evidence of
awakened national life, and we are not surprised to find that it was in
this circle that the demand for a separate Norwegian university was
first authoritatively presented. Again, a little group of periodicals
sprang up in which were discussed, learnedly and pedantically, to be
sure, but with keen intelligence, the questions that were interesting
the great world outside. It is dreary business ploughing through these
solemn, badly printed octavos and quartos. Of a sudden, however, one
comes upon the first, and for thirty-six years the only Norwegian
translation of Shakespeare.

We find it in _Trondhjems Allehaande_ for October 23, 1782--the third
and last volume. The translator has hit upon Antony's funeral oration
and introduces it with a short note:[1] "The following is taken from
the famous English play _Julius Caesar_ and may be regarded as a
masterpiece. When Julius Caesar was killed, Antonius secured permission
from Brutus and the other conspirators to speak at his funeral. The
people, whose minds were full of the prosperity to come, were satisfied
with Caesar's murder and regarded the murderers as benefactors. Antonius
spoke so as to turn their minds from rejoicing to regret at a great
man's untimely death and so as to justify himself and win the hearts of
the populace. And in what a masterly way Antonius won them! We shall
render, along with the oration, the interjected remarks of the crowd,
inasmuch as they too are evidences of Shakespeare's understanding of
the human soul and his realization of the manner in which the oration
gradually brought about the purpose toward which he aimed:"

    [1. It has been thought best to give such citations for the most
    part in translation.]

  Venner, Medborgere, giver mig Gehør, jeg kommer for at jorde Cæsars
  Legeme, ikke for at rose ham. Det Onde man gjør lever endnu efter
  os; det Gode begraves ofte tilligemed vore Been. Saa Være det ogsaa
  med Cæsar. Den ædle Brutus har sagt Eder, Cæsar var herskesyg. Var
  han det saa var det en svær Forseelse: og Cæsar har ogsaa dyrt
  maattet bøde derfor. Efter Brutus og de Øvriges Tilladelse--og
  Brutus er en hederlig Mand, og det er de alle, lutter hederlige
  Mænd, kommer jeg hid for at holde Cæsars Ligtale. Han var min Ven,
  trofast og oprigtig mod mig! dog, Brutus siger, han var herskesyg,
  og Brutus er en hederlig Mand. Han har bragt mange Fanger med til
  Rom, hvis Løsepenge formerede de offentlige Skatter; synes Eder det
  herskesygt af Cæsar--naar de Arme skreeg, saa græd Cæsar--Herskesyge
  maate dog vel væves af stærkere Stof.--Dog Brutus siger han var
  herskesyg; og Brutus er en hederlig Mand. I have alle seet at jeg
  paa Pans Fest tre Gange tilbød ham en kongelig Krone, og at han tre
  Gange afslog den. Var det herskesygt?--Dog Brutus siger han var
  herskesyg, og i Sandhed, han er en hederlig Mand. Jeg taler ikke for
  at gjendrive det, som Brutus har sagt; men jeg staar her, for at
  sige hvad jeg veed. I alle elskede ham engang, uden Aarsag; hvad for
  en Aarsag afholder Eder fra at sørge over ham? O! Fornuft! Du er
  flyed hen til de umælende Bæster, og Menneskene have tabt deres
  Forstand. Haver Taalmodighed med mig; mit Hjerte er hist i Kisten
  hos Cæsar, og jeg maa holde inde til det kommer tilbage til mig.

  Den Første af Folket:
  Mig synes der er megen Fornuft i hans Tale.

  Den Anden af Folket:
  Naar du ret overveier Sagen, saa er Cæsar skeet stor Uret.

  Den Tredje:
  Mener I det, godt Folk? Jeg frygter der vil komme slemmere i hans

  Den Fjerde:
  Har I lagt Mærke til hvad han sagde? Han vilde ikke modtage Kronen,
  det er altsaa vist at han ikke var herskesyg.

  Den Første:
  Hvis saa er, vil det komme visse Folk dyrt at staae.

  Den Anden:
  Den fromme Mand! Hans Øien er blodrøde af Graad.

  Den Tredje:
  Der er ingen fortræffeligere Mand i Rom end Antonius.

  Den Fjerde:
  Giver Agt, han begynder igjen at tale.

  Endnu i Gaar havde et Ord af Cæsar gjældt imod hele Verden, nu
  ligger han der, endog den Usleste nægter ham Agtelse. O, I Folk!
  var jeg sindet, at ophidse Eders Gemytter til Raserie og Oprør, saa
  skulde jeg skade Brutus og Kassius, hvilke, som I alle veed, ere
  hederlige Mænd. Men jeg vil intet Ondt gjøre dem: hellere vil jeg
  gjøre den Døde, mig selv, og Eder Uret, end at jeg skulde volde
  slige hederlige Mænd Fortræd. Men her er et Pergament med Cæsars
  Segl: jeg fandt det i hans Kammer; det er hans sidste Villie. Lad
  Folket blot høre hans Testament, som jeg, tilgiv mig det, ikke
  tænker at oplæse, da skulde de alle gaa hen og kysse den døde Cæsars
  Saar; og dyppe deres Klæder i hans hellige Blod; skulde bede om et
  Haar af ham til Erindring, og paa deres Dødsdag i deres sidste
  Villie tænke paa dette Haar, og testamentere deres Efterkommere
  det som en rig Arvedel.

  Den Fjerde:
  Vi ville høre Testamentet! Læs det, Marcus Antonius.

  Haver Taalmodighed, mine Venner: jeg tør ikke forelæse det; deter
  ikke raadeligt, at I erfare hvor kjær Cæsar havde Eder. I ere ikke
  Træe, I ere ikke Stene, I ere Mennesker; og da I ere Mennesker saa
  skulde Testamentet, om I hørte det, sætte Eder i Flamme, det skulde
  gjøre Eder rasende. Det er godt at I ikke vide, at I ere hans
  Arvinger; thi vidste I det, O, hvad vilde der da blive af?

  Den fjerde:
  Læs Testamentet; vi ville høre det, Antonius! Du maae læse
  Testamentet for os, Cæsars Testament!

  Ville i være rolige? Ville I bie lidt? Jeg er gaaen for vidt at jeg
  har sagt Eder noget derom--jeg frygter jeg fornærmer de hederlige
  Mænd, som have myrdet Cæsar--jeg befrygter det.

  Den Fjerde:
  De vare Forrædere!--ha, hederlige Mænd!

The translation continues to the point where the plebeians, roused to
fury by the cunning appeal of Antony, rush out with the cries:[2]

  2. Pleb:
  Go fetch fire!

  3. Pleb:
  Plucke down Benches!

  2. Pleb:
  Plucke down Formes, Windowes, anything.

    [2. _Julius Caesar_. III, 2. 268-70. Variorum Edition Furness.
    Phila. 1913.]

But we have not space for a more extended quotation, and the passage
given is sufficiently representative.

The faults are obvious. The translator has not ventured to reproduce
Shakespeare's blank verse, nor, indeed, could that be expected. The
Alexandrine had long held sway in Danish poetry. In _Rolf Krage_ (1770),
Ewald had broken with the tradition and written an heroic tragedy in
prose. Unquestionably he had been moved to take this step by the example
of his great model Klopstock in _Bardiete_.[3] It seems equally certain,
however, that he was also inspired by the plays of Shakespeare, and the
songs of Ossian, which came to him in the translations of Wieland.[4]

    [3. Rønning--_Rationalismens Tidsalder_. 11-95.]

    [4. Ewald--_Levnet og meninger_. Ed. Bobe. Kbhn. 1911, p. 166.]

A few years later, when he had learned English and read Shakespeare
in the original, he wrote _Balders Død_ in blank verse and
naturalized Shakespeare's metre in Denmark.[5] At any rate, it
is not surprising that this unknown plodder far north in Trondhjem
had not progressed beyond Klopstock and Ewald. But the result of
turning Shakespeare's poetry into the journeyman prose of a foreign
language is necessarily bad. The translation before us amounts to a
paraphrase,--good, respectable Danish untouched by genius. Two
examples will illustrate this. The lines:

  .... Now lies he there,
  And none so poor to do him reverence.

    [5. _Ibid._ II, 234-235.]

are rendered in the thoroughly matter-of-fact words, appropriate for a
letter or a newspaper "story":

  .... Nu ligger han der,
  endog den Usleste nægter ham Agtelse.


  I have o'ershot myself to tell you of it,

is translated:

  Jeg er gaaen for vidt at jeg sagde Eder noget derom.

On the other hand, the translation presents no glaring errors; such
slips as we do find are due rather to ineptitude, an inability to
find the right word, with the result that the writer has contented
himself with an accidental and approximate rendering. For example,
the translator no doubt understood the lines:

  The evil that men do lives after them,
  The good is oft interred with their bones.

but he could hit upon nothing better than:

  Det Onde man gjør _lever endnu efter os_;
  det Gode begraves ofte tilligemed vore Been.

which is both inaccurate and infelicitous. For the line

  He was my friend, faithful and just to me.

our author has:

  Han var min Ven, trofast og _oprigtig_ mod mig!


  Has he, Masters? I fear there will come a worse in his place.


  Mener I det, godt Folk?--etc.

Despite these faults--and many others could be cited,--it is perfectly
clear that this unknown student of Shakespeare understood his original
and endeavored to reproduce it correctly in good Danish. His very
blunders showed that he tried not to be slavish, and his style, while
not remarkable, is easy and fluent. Apparently, however, his work
attracted no attention. His name is unknown, as are his sources, and
there is not, with one exception, a single reference to him in the later
Shakespeare literature of Denmark and Norway. Not even Rahbek, who was
remarkably well informed in this field, mentions him. Only Foersom,[6]
who let nothing referring to Shakespeare escape him, speaks (in the
notes to Part I of his translation) of a part of Act III of _Julius
Caesar_ in _Trondhjems Allehaande_. That is all. It it not too much to
emphasize, therefore, that we have here the first Danish version of any
part of _Julius Caesar_ as well as the first Norwegian translation of
any part of Shakespeare into what was then the common literary language
of Denmark and Norway.[7]

    [6. _William Shakespeares Tragiske Værker--Første Deel._ Khbn.
    1807. Notes at the back of the volume.]

    [7. By way of background, a bare enumeration of the early Danish
    translations of Shakespeare is here given.

    1777. _Hamlet_. Translated by Johannes Boye.

    1790. _Macbeth_. Translated by Nils Rosenfeldt.
      _Othello_. Translated by Nils Rosenfeldt.
      _All's Well that Ends Well_. Translated by Nils Rosenfeldt.

    1792. _King Lear_. Translated by Nils Rosenfeldt.
      _Cymbeline_. Translated by Nils Rosenfeldt.
      _The Merchant of Venice_. Translated by Nils Rosenfeldt.

    1794. _King Lear_. Nahum Tate's stage version. Translated by Hans
    Wilhelm Riber.

    1796. _Two Speeches._--To be or not to be--_(Hamlet.)_
      Is this a dagger--_(Macbeth.)_
      Translated by Malthe Conrad Brun in _Svada_.

    1800. Act III, Sc. 2 of _Julius Caesar_. Translated by Knut Lyhne
    Rahbek in _Minerva_.

    1801. _Macbeth_. Translated by Levin Sander and K.L. Rahbek. Not
    published till 1804.

    1804. Act V of _Julius Caesar_. Translated by P.F. Foersom in

    1805. Act IV Sc. 3 of _Love's Labour Lost_. Translated by P.F.
    Foersom in _Nytaarsgave for Skuespilyndere._

    1807. Hamlet's speech to the players. Translated by P.F. Foersom
    in _Nytaarsgave for Skuespilyndere_.

    It may be added that in 1807 appeared the first volume of
    Foersom's translation of Shakespeare's tragedies, and after 1807
    the history of Shakespeare in Denmark is more complicated. With
    these matters I shall deal at length in another study.]


It was many years before the anonymous contributor to _Trondhjems
Allehaande_ was to have a follower. From 1782 to 1807 Norwegians were
engaged in accumulating wealth, an occupation, indeed, in which they
were remarkably successful. There was no time to meddle with Shakespeare
in a day when Norwegian shipping and Norwegian products were profitable
as never before. After 1807, when the blundering panic of the British
plunged Denmark and Norway into war on the side of Napoleon, there were
sterner things to think of. It was a sufficiently difficult matter to
get daily bread. But in 1818, when the country had, as yet, scarcely
begun to recover from the agony of the Napoleonic wars, the second
Norwegian translation from Shakespeare appeared.[8]

    [8. _Coriolanus, efter Shakespeare_. Christiania. 1818.]

The translator of this version of _Coriolanus_ is unknown. Beyond the
bare statement on the title page that the translation is made directly
from Shakespeare and that it is printed and published in Christiania by
Jacob Lehmann, there is no information to be had. Following the title
there is a brief quotation from Dr. Johnson and one from the "Zeitung
für die elegante Welt." Again Norway anticipates her sister nation; for
not till the following year did Denmark get her first translation of the

    [9. The first Danish translation of Coriolanus by P.F. Wulff
    appeared in 1819.]

Ewald, Oehlenschlæger, and Foersom had by this time made the blank verse
of Shakespeare a commonplace in Dano-Norwegian literature. Even the
mediocre could attempt it with reasonable assurance of success. The
_Coriolanus_ of 1818 is fairly correct, but its lumbering verse reveals
plainly that the translator had trouble with his metre. Two or three
examples will illustrate. First, the famous allegory of Menenius:[10]

  I enten maae erkjende at I ere
  Heel ondskabsfulde, eller taale, man
  For Uforstandighed anklager Eder.
  Et snurrigt Eventyr jeg vil fortælle;
  Maaskee I har det hørt, men da det tjener
  Just til min Hensigt, jeg forsøge vil
  Nøiagtigen det Eder at forklare.
    .  .  .  .  .
  Jeg Eder det fortælle skal; med et
  Slags Smil, der sig fra Lungen ikke skrev;
  Omtrent saaledes--thi I vide maae
  Naar jeg kan lade Maven tale, jeg
  Den og kan lade smile--stikende
  Den svarede hvert misfornøiet Lem
  Og hver Rebel, som den misundte al
  Sin Indtægt; Saa misunde I Senatet
  Fordi det ikke er det som I ere.

  _Første Borger_:
  Hvorledes. Det var Mavens Svar! Hvorledes?
  Og Hovedet, der kongeligt er kronet,
  Og Øiet, der er blot Aarvaagenhed;
  Og Hjertet, som os giver gode Raad;
  Og Tungen, vor Trumpet, vor Stridsmand, Armen,
  Og Foden, vores Pragthest, med de flere
  Befæstingner, der støtte vor Maskine,
  Hvis de nu skulde....

  Nu hvad skulde de?...
  Den Karl mig lader ei til Orde komme,
  Hvad vil I sigte med det _hvis de skulde?_

  _Første Borger_:
  Hvis de nu skulde sig betvinge lade
  Ved denne Slughals Maven som blot er
  En Afløbs-Rende for vort Legeme?

  Nu videre!

  _Første Borger_:
  Hvad vilde Maven svare?
  Hvis hine Handlende med Klage fremstod?

  Hvis I mig skjænke vil det som I have
  Kun lidet af, Taalmodighed, jeg mener,
  Jeg Eder Mavens Svar da skal fortælle.

  _Første Borger_:
  I! Den Fortælling ret i Langdrag trækker!

  Min gode Ven, nu allerførst bemærke.
  Agtværdig Mave brugte Overlæg;
  Ei ubetænksom den sig overiled
  Som dens Modstandere; og saa lød Svaret:
  I Venner som fra mig ei skilles kan!
  Det Sandhed er, at jeg fra første Haand
  Modtager Næringen som Eder føder,
  Og dette i sin Orden er, thi jeg
  Et Varelager og et Forraads-Kammer
  Jo er for Legemet; men ei I glemme:
  Jeg Næringen igjennem Blodets Floder
  Og sender lige hen til Hoffet-Hjertet--
  Til Hjernens Sæde; jeg den flyde lader
  Igjennem Menneskets meest fine Dele;
  Og de meest fast Nerver, som de mindste
  Blandt Aarene fra mig modtager hver
  Naturlig Kraft, hvormed de leve, og
  Endskjøndt de ikke alle paa eengang--
  I gode Venner (det var Mavens Ord)
  Og mærker dem heel nøie....

  _Første Borger_:
      Det vil vi gjøre.

  Endskjøndt de ikke alle kunde see,
  Hvad jeg tilflyde lader hver især,
  Saa kan jeg dog med gyldigt Dokument
  Bevise at jeg overlader dem
  Den rene Kjærne, selv beholder Kliddet.
  Hvad siger I dertil?

  _Første Borger_:
      Et svar det var--
  Men nu Andvendelsen!

      Senatet er
  Den gode Mave: I Rebellerne.
  I undersøge blot de Raad det giver
  Og alt dets Omhue. Overveier nøie
  Alt hvad til Statens Velferd monne sigte,
  Og da I finde vil, at fra Senatet
  Hver offentlig Velgjerning som I nyde
  Sit Udspring bar, men ei fra Eder selv--
  Hvad tænker I, som er den store Taae
  Her i Forsamlingen?

    [10. _Coriolanus_--Malone's ed. London. 1790. Vol. 7, pp. 148 ff.]

Aside from the preponderance of feminine endings, which is inevitable
in Scandinavian blank verse, what strikes us most in this translation
is its laboriousness. The language is set on end. Inversion and
transposition are the devices by which the translator has managed to
give Shakespeare in metrically decent lines. The proof of this is so
patent that I need scarcely point out instances. But take the first
seven lines of the quotation. Neither in form nor content is this bad,
yet no one with a feeling for the Danish language can avoid an
exclamation, "forskruet Stil" and "poetiske Stylter." And lines 8-9
smack unmistakably of _Peder Paars_. In the second place, the translator
often does not attempt to translate at all. He gives merely a
paraphrase. Compare lines 1-3 with the English original; the whole of
the speech of the first citizen, 17-24, 25-27, where the whole implied
idea is fully expressed; 28-30, etc., etc. We might offer almost every
translation of Shakespeare's figures as an example. One more instance.
At times even paraphrase breaks down. Compare

  And through the cranks and offices of man
  The strongest and small inferior veins,
  Receive from me that natural competency
  Whereby they live.

with our translator's version (lines 50-51)

      jeg den flyde lader
  Igjennem Menneskets meest fine Dele.

This is not even good paraphrase; it is simply bald and helpless

On the other hand, it would be grossly unfair to dismiss it all with
a sneer. The translator has succeeded for the most part in giving the
sense of Shakespeare in smooth and sounding verse, in itself no small
achievement. Rhetoric replaces poetry, it is true, and paraphrase dries
up the freshness and the sparkle of the metaphor. But a Norwegian of
that day who got his first taste of Shakespeare from the translation
before us, would at least feel that here was the power of words, the
music and sonorousness of elevated dramatic poetry.

One more extract and I am done. It is Coriolanus' outburst of wrath
against the pretensions of the tribunes (III, 1). With all its
imperfections, the translation is almost adequate.

  Patrisier, I ædle, men ei vise!
  I høie Senatorer, som mon mangle
  Al Overlæg, hvi lod I Hydra vælge
  En Tjener som med sit bestemte Skal
  --Skjøndt blot Uhyrets Talerør og Lyd--
  Ei mangler Mod, at sige at han vil
  Forvandle Eders Havstrøm til en Sump,
  Og som vil gjøre Jer Kanal til sin.
  Hvis han har Magten, lad Enfoldighed
  Da for ham bukke; har han ingen Magt,
  Da vækker Eders Mildhed af sin Dvale,
  Den farlig er; hvis I ei mangle Klogskab,
  Da handler ei som Daaren; mangler den,
  Lad denne ved Jer Side faae en Pude.
  Plebeier ere I, hvis Senatorer
  De ere, og de ere mindre ei
  Naar begge Eders Stemmer sammenblandes
  Og naar de kildres meest ved Fornemhed.
  De vælge deres egen Øvrighed,
  Og saadan Een, der sætte tør sit Skal,
  Ja sit gemene Skal mod en Forsamling,
  Der mer agtværdig er end nogensinde
  Man fandt i Grækenland. Ved Jupiter!
  Sligt Consulen fornedrer! Og det smerter
  Min Sjæl at vide, hvor der findes tvende
  Autoriteter, ingen af dem størst,
  Der kan Forvirring lettelig faae Indpas
  I Gabet, som er mellem dem, og hæve
  Den ene ved den anden.


In 1865, Paul Botten Hansen, best known to the English-speaking world
for his relations with Bjørnson and Ibsen, reviewed[11] the eleventh
installment of Lembcke's translation of Shakespeare. The article
does not venture into criticism, but is almost entirely a resumé of
Shakespeare translation in Norway and Denmark. It is less well informed
than we should expect, and contains, among several other slips, the
following "...in 1855, Niels Hauge, deceased the following year as
teacher in Kragerø, translated _Macbeth_, the first faithful version of
this masterpiece which Dano-Norwegian literature could boast of." Botten
Hansen mentions only one previous Danish or Norwegian version of
Shakespeare--Foersom's adaptation of Schiller's stage version (1816).
He is quite obviously ignorant of Rosenfeldt's translation of 1790; and
the Rahbek-Sanders translation of 1801 seems also to have escaped him,
although Hauge expressly refers to this work in his introduction. Both
of these early attempts are in prose; Foersom's, to be sure, is in blank
verse, but Foersom's _Macbeth_ is not Shakespeare's. Accordingly, it is,
in a sense, true that Hauge in 1855 did give the Dano-Norwegian public
their first taste of an unspoiled _Macbeth_ in the vernacular.[12]

    [11. _Illustreret Nyhedsblad_--1865, p. 96.]

    [12. _Macbeth--Tragedie i fem Akter af William Shakespeare_.
    Oversat og fortolket af N. Hauge. Christiania. 1855. Johan Dahl.]

Hauge tells us that he had interested himself in English literature at
the risk of being called an eccentric. Modern languages then offered no
avenue to preferment, and why, forsooth, did men attend lectures and
take examinations except to gain the means of earning a livelihood? He
justifies his interest, however, by the seriousness and industry with
which Shakespeare is studied in Germany and England. With the founts of
this study he is apparently familiar, and with the influence of
Shakespeare on Lessing, Goethe, and the lesser romanticists. It is
interesting to note, too, that two scholars, well known in widely
different fields, Monrad, the philosopher--for some years a sort of Dr.
Johnson in the literary circles of Christiania--and Unger, the scholarly
editor of many Old Norse texts, assisted him in his work.

The character of Hauge's work is best seen in his notes. They consist of
a careful defense of every liberty he takes with the text, explanations
of grammatical constructions, and interpretations of debated matters.
For example, he defends the witches on the ground that they symbolize
the power of evil in the human soul.

  Man kan sige at Shakespeare i dem og deres Slæng har givet de
  nytestamentlige Dæmoner Kjød og Blod.

(We may say that Shakespeare in them and their train has endowed the
demons of the New Testament with flesh and blood). Again, he would
change the word _incarnadine_ to _incarnate_ on the ground that _Twelfth
Night V_ offers a similar instance of the corrupt use of _incardinate_
for _incarnate_. The word occurs, moreover, in English only in this
passage.[13] Again, in his note to Act IV, he points out that the
dialogue in which Malcolm tests the sincerity of Macduff is taken almost
verbatim from Holinshed. "In performing the play," he suggests, "it
should, perhaps, be omitted as it very well may be without injury to the
action since the complication which arises through Malcolm's suspicion
of Macduff is fully and satisfactorily resolved by the appearance of
Rosse." And his note to a passage in Act V is interesting as showing
that, wide and thorough as was Hauge's acquaintance with Shakespearean
criticism, he had, besides, a first-hand knowledge of the minor
Elizabethan dramatists. I give the note in full. "_The way to dusty

  Til dette besynderlige Udtryk, kan foruden hvad Knight og Dyce
  have at citere, endnu citeres af Fords _Perkin Warbeck_, II, 2,
  "I take my leave to travel to my dust."

    [13. This is, of course, incorrect. Cf. Macbeth, Variorum
    Edition. Ed. Furness. Phila. 1903, p. 40. Note.]

Hauge was a careful and conscientious scholar. He knew his field and
worked with the painstaking fidelity of the man who realizes the
difficulty of his task. The translation he gave is of a piece with the
man--faithful, laborious, uninspired. But it is, at least, superior to
Rosenfeldt and Sander, and Hauge justified his work by giving to his
countrymen the best version of _Macbeth_ up to that time.

Monrad himself reviewed Hauge's _Macbeth_ in a careful and well-informed
article, in _Nordisk Tidsskrift for Videnskab og Literatur_, which I
shall review later.


One of the most significant elements in the intellectual life of modern
Norway is the so-called Landsmaal movement. It is probably unnecessary
to say that this movement is an effort on the part of many Norwegians to
substitute for the dominant Dano-Norwegian a new literary language based
on the "best" dialects. This language, commonly called the Landsmaal,
is, at all events in its origin, the creation of one man, Ivar Aasen.
Aasen published the first edition of his grammar in 1848, and the first
edition of his dictionary in 1850. But obviously it was not enough to
provide a grammar and a word-book. The literary powers of the new
language must be developed and disciplined and, accordingly, Aasen
published in 1853 _Prøver af Landsmaalet i Norge_. The little volume
contains, besides other material, seven translations from foreign
classics; among these is Romeo's soliloquy in the balcony scene.[14]
(Act II, Sc. 1) This modest essay of Aasen's, then, antedates Hauge's
rendering of _Macbeth_ and constitutes the first bit of Shakespeare
translation in Norway since the _Coriolanus_ of 1818.

    [14. Ivar Aasen--_Skrifter i Samling_--Christiania. 1911, Vol. 11,
    p. 165. Reprinted from _Prøver af Landsmaalet i Norge, Første
    Udgave_. Kristiania. 1853, p. 114.]

Aasen knew that Landsmaal was adequate to the expression of the homely
and familiar. But would it do for belles lettres?

  Han lær aat Saar, som aldri kende Saar.--
  Men hyst!--Kvat Ljos er dat dar upp i glaset?
  Dat er i Aust, og Julia er Soli.
  Sprett, fagre Sol, og tyn dan Maane-Skjegla,
  som alt er sjuk og bleik av berre Ovund,
  at hennar Taus er fagrar' en ho sjølv.
  Ver inkje hennar Taus; dan Ovundsykja,
  so sjukleg grøn er hennar Jomfru-Klædnad;
  d'er berre Narr, som ber han. Sleng han av!
  Ja, d'er mi Fru, d'er dan eg held i Hugen;
  aa, giv ho hadde vist dat, at ho er dat!
  Ho talar, utan Ord. Kvat skal ho med dei?
  Ho tala kann med Augom;--eg vil svara.
  Eg er for djerv; d'er inkje meg ho ser paa,
  d'er tvo av fegste Stjernom dar paa Himlen,
  som gekk ei Ærend, og fekk hennar Augo
  te blinka i sin Stad, til dei kem atter.
  Enn um dei var dar sjølve Augo hennar.
  Kinn-Ljosken hennar hadde skemt dei Stjernor,
  som Dagsljos skemmer Lampen; hennar Augo
  hadd' straatt so bjart eit Ljos i Himmels Høgdi,
  at Fuglar song og Trudde, dat var Dag.
  Sjaa, kor ho hallar Kinni lint paa Handi,
  Aa, giv eg var ein Vott paa denne Handi
  at eg fekk strjuka Kinni den.--Ho talar.--
  Aa tala meir, Ljos-Engel, med du lyser
  so klaart i denne Natti kring mitt Hovud,
  som naar dat kem ein utfløygd Himmels Sending
  mot Folk, som keika seg og stira beint upp
  med undrarsame kvit-snudd' Augo mot han,
  naar han skrid um dan seinleg-sigand' Skyi
  og sigler yver høge Himmels Barmen.

It was no peasant jargon that Aasen had invented; it was a literary
language of great power and beauty with the dignity and fulness of any
other literary medium. But it was new and untried. It had no literature.
Aasen, accordingly, set about creating one. Indeed, much of what he
wrote had no other purpose. What, then, shall we say of the first
appearance of Shakespeare in "Ny Norsk"?

First, that it was remarkably felicitous.

  Kinn-Ljosken hadde skemt dei Stjernor
  som Dagsljos skemmer Lampen, hennar Augo, etc.

That is no inadequate rendering of:

  Two of the fairest stars in all the Heaven, etc.

And equally good are the closing lines beginning:

  Aa tala meir, Ljos-Engel med du lyser, etc.

Foersom is deservedly praised for his translation of the same lines, but
a comparison of the two is not altogether disastrous to Aasen, though,
to be sure, his lines lack some of Foersom's insinuating softness:

  Tal atter, Lysets Engel! thi du straaler
  i Natten saa høiherlig over mig
  som en af Nattens vingede Cheruber
  for dødeliges himmelvendte Øine, etc.

But lines like these have an admirable and perfect loveliness:

  naar han skrid um dan seinleg-sigand' Skyi
  og sigler yver høge Himmels Barmen.

Aasen busied himself for some years with this effort to naturalize his
Landsmaal in all the forms of literature. Apparently this was always
uppermost in his thoughts. We find him trying himself in this sort of
work in the years before and after the publication of _Prøver af
Landsmaalet_. In _Skrifter i Samling_ is printed another little fragment
of _Romeo and Juliet_, which the editor, without giving his reasons,
assigns to a date earlier than that of the balcony scene. It is
Mercutio's description of Queen Mab (Act I, Sc. 4). This is decidedly
more successful than the other. The vocabulary of the Norwegian dialects
is rich in words of fairy-lore, and one who knew this word treasure as
Aasen did could render the fancies of Mercutio with something very near
the exuberance of Shakespeare himself:

  No ser eg vel, at ho hev' vore hjaa deg
  ho gamle Mabba, Nærkona aat Vettom.
  So lita som ein Adelstein i Ringen
  paa fremste Fingren paa ein verdug Raadsmann,
  ho kjøyrer kring med smaa Soldumbe-Flokar
  paa Nasanna aat Folk, dan Tid dei søv.
  Hjulspikann' henna er av Kongleføter,
  Vognfelden er av Engjesprette-Vengjer,
  og Taumann' av den minste Kongleveven.
  Av Maanestraalanne paa Vatn er Selen,
  og av Sirissebein er Svipeskafted
  og Svipesnerten er av Agner smaa.
  Skjotskaren er eit nett graakjola My
  so stort som Holva av ein liten Mòl,
  som minste Vækja krasa kann med Fingren.
  Til Vogn ho fekk ei holut Haslenot
  av Snikkar Ikorn elder Natemakk,
  som altid var Vognmakarann' aat Vettom.[15]

    [15. Ivar Aasen: _Skrifter i Samling_. Christiania. 1911, Vol. I,
    p. 166.]

The translation ends with Mercutio's words:

  And being thus frightened, swears a prayer or two,
  And sleeps again.

In my opinion this is consummately well done--at once accurate and
redolent of poesy; and certainly Aasen would have been justified in
feeling that Landsmaal is equal to Shakespeare's most airy passages. The
slight inaccuracy of one of the lines:

  Av Maanestraalanne paa Vatn er Selen,

for Shakespeare's:

  The colors of the moonshine's watery beams,

is of no consequence. The discrepancy was doubtless as obvious to the
translator as it is to us.

From about the same time we have another Shakespeare fragment from
Aasen's hand. Like the Queen Mab passage, it was not published till
1911.[16] It is scarcely surprising that it is a rendering of Hamlet's
soliloquy: "To be or not to be." This is, of course, a more difficult
undertaking. For the interests that make up the life of the
people--their family and community affairs, their arts and crafts and
folk-lore, the dialects of Norway, like the dialects of any other
country, have a vocabulary amazingly rich and complete.[17] But not all
ideas belong in the realm of the every-day, and the great difficulty of
the Landsmaal movement is precisely this--that it must develop a
"culture language." To a large degree it has already done so. The rest
is largely a matter of time. And surely Ivar Aasen's translation of the
famous soliloquy proved that the task of giving, even to thought as
sophisticated as this, adequate and final expression is not impossible.
The whole is worth giving:

  Te vera elder ei,--d'er da her spyrst um;
  um d'er meir heirlegt i sitt Brjost aa tola
  kvar Styng og Støyt av ein hardsøkjen Lagnad
  eld taka Vaapn imot eit Hav med Harmar,
  staa mot og slaa dei veg?--Te døy, te sova,
  alt fraa seg gjort,--og i ein Sømn te enda
  dan Hjarteverk, dei tusend timleg' Støytar,
  som Kjøt er Erving til, da var ein Ende
  rett storleg ynskjande. Te døy, te sova,
  ja sova, kanskje drøyma,--au, d'er Knuten.
  Fyr' i dan Daudesømn, kva Draum kann koma,
  naar mid ha kastat av dei daudleg Bandi,
  da kann vel giv' oss Tankar; da er Sakji,
  som gjerer Useldom so lang i Livet:
  kven vilde tolt slikt Hogg og Haad i Tidi,
  slik sterk Manns Urett, stolt Manns Skamlaus Medferd,
  slik vanvyrd Elskhugs Harm, slik Rettarløysa,
  slikt Embæt's Ovmod, slik Tilbakaspenning,
  som tolug, verdug Mann fær av uverdug;
  kven vilde da, naar sjølv han kunde løysa
  seg med ein nakjen Odd? Kven bar dan Byrda
  so sveitt og stynjand i so leid ein Livnad,
  naar inkj'an ottast eitkvart etter Dauden,
  da uforfarne Land, som ingjen Ferdmann
  er komen atter fraa, da viller Viljen,
  da læt oss helder ha dan Naud, mid hava,
  en fly til onnor Naud, som er oss ukjend.
  So gjer Samviskan Slavar av oss alle,
  so bi dan fyrste, djerve, bjarte Viljen
  skjemd ut med blakke Strik av Ettertankjen
  og store Tiltak, som var Merg og Magt i,
  maa soleid snu seg um og strøyma ovugt
  og tapa Namn av Tiltak.

    [16. _Skrifter i Samling_, I, 168. Kristiania. 1911.]

    [17. Cf. Alf Torp. _Samtiden_, XIX (1908), p. 483.]

This is a distinctly successful attempt--exact, fluent, poetic. Compare
it with the Danish of Foersom and Lembcke, with the Swedish of Hagberg,
or the new Norwegian "Riksmaal" translation, and Ivar Aasen's early
Landsmaal version holds its own. It keeps the right tone. The dignity of
the original is scarcely marred by a note of the colloquial. Scarcely
marred! For just as many Norwegians are offended by such a phrase as
"Hennar Taus er fagrar' en ho sjølv" in the balcony scene, so many more
will object to the colloquial "Au, d'er Knuten." _Au_ has no place in
dignified verse, and surely it is a most unhappy equivalent for "Ay,
there's the rub." Aasen would have replied that Hamlet's words are
themselves colloquial; but the English conveys no such connotation of
easy speech as does the Landsmaal to a great part of the Norwegian
people. But this is a trifle. The fact remains that Aasen gave a noble
form to Shakespeare's noble verse.


For many years the work of Hauge and Aasen stood alone in Norwegian
literature. The reading public was content to go to Denmark, and the
growing Landsmaal literature was concerned with other matters--first of
all, with the task of establishing itself and the even more complicated
problem of finding a form--orthography, syntax, and inflexions which
should command general acceptance. For the Landsmaal of Ivar Aasen was
frankly based on "the best dialects," and by this he meant, of course,
the dialects that best preserved the forms of the Old Norse. These were
the dialects of the west coast and the mountains. To Aasen the speech of
the towns, of the south-east coast and of the great eastern valleys and
uplands was corrupt and vitiated. It seemed foreign, saturated and
spoiled by Danish. There were those, however, who saw farther. If
Landsmaal was to strike root, it must take into account not merely "the
purest dialects" but the speech of the whole country. It could not, for
example, retain forms like "dat," "dan," etc., which were peculiar to
Søndmør, because they happened to be lineal descendants of Old Norse,
nor should it insist on preterites in _ade_ and participles in _ad_
merely because these forms were found in the sagas. We cannot enter upon
this subject; we can but point out that this movement was born almost
with Landsmaal itself, and that, after Aasen's fragments, the first
Norwegian translation of any part of Shakespeare is a rendering of
Sonnet CXXX in popularized Eastern, as distinguished from Aasen's
literary, aristocratic Western Landsmaal. It is the first translation of
a Shakespearean sonnet on Norwegian soil. The new language was hewing
out new paths.

  Som Soli Augunn' inkje skjin,
  og som Koraller inkje Lipunn' glansar,
  og snjokvit hev ho inkje Halsen sin,
  og Gullhaar inkje Hove hennar kransar,

  Eg baae kvit' og raue Roser ser--,
  paa Kinni hennar deira Lit'kje blandast;
  og meire fin vel Blomsterangen er,
  en den som ut fraa Lipunn' hennar andast.

  Eg høyrt hev hennar Røyst og veit endaa,
  at inkje som ein Song dei læter Ori;
  og aldrig hev eg set ein Engel gaa--
  og gjenta mi ser støtt eg gaa paa Jori.

  Men ho er større Lov og Ære vær
  enn pyntedokkane me laana Glansen.
  Den reine Hugen seg i alting ter,
  og ljost ho smilar under Brurekransen.[18]

    [18. "Ein Sonett etter William Shakespeare." _Fram_--1872.]

Obviously this is not a sonnet at all. Not only does the translator
ignore Shakespeare's rime scheme, but he sets aside the elementary
definition of a sonnet--a poem of fourteen lines. We have here sixteen
lines and the last two add nothing to the original. The poet, through
lack of skill, has simply run on. He could have ended with line 14 and
then, whatever other criticism might have been passed upon his work, we
should have had at least the sonnet form. The additional lines are in
themselves fairly good poetry but they have no place in what purports to
be translation. The translator signs himself simply "r." Whoever he was,
he had poetic feeling and power of expression. No mere poetaster could
have given lines so exquisite in their imagery, so full of music, and
so happy in their phrasing. This fact in itself makes it a poor
translation, for it is rather a paraphrase with a quality and excellence
all its own. Not a line exactly renders the English. The paraphrase is
never so good as the original but, considered by itself, it is good
poetry. The disillusionment comes only with comparison. On the whole,
this second attempt to put Shakespeare into Landsmaal was distinctly
less successful than the first. As poetry it does not measure up to
Aasen; as translation it is periphrastic, arbitrary, not at all


The translations which we have thus far considered were mere
fragments--brief soliloquies or a single sonnet, and they were done into
a dialect which was not then and is not now the prevailing literary
language of the country. They were earnest and, in the case of Aasen,
successful attempts to show that Landsmaal was adequate to the most
varied and remote of styles. But many years were to elapse before anyone
attempted the far more difficult task of turning any considerable part
of Shakespeare into "Modern Norwegian."

Norway still relied, with no apparent sense of humiliation, on the
translations of Shakespeare as they came up from Copenhagen. In 1881,
however, Hartvig Lassen (1824-1897) translated _The Merchant of
Venice_.[19] Lassen matriculated as a student in 1842, and from 1850
supported himself as a literateur, writing reviews of books and plays
for _Krydseren_ and _Aftenposten_. In 1872 he was appointed Artistic
Censor at the theater, and in that office translated a multitude of
plays from almost every language of Western Europe. His published
translations of Shakespeare are, however, quite unrelated to his
theatrical work. They were done for school use and published by
_Selskabet for Folkeoplysningens Fremme_ (Society for the Promotion
of Popular Education).

    [19. _Kjøbmanden i Venedig_--Et Skuespil af William
    Shakespeare. Oversat af Hartvig Lassen. Udgivet af Selskabet for
    Folkeoplysningens Fremme som andet Tillægshefte til _Folkevennen_
    for 1881. Kristiania, 1881.]

To _Kjøbmanden i Venedig_ there is no introduction and no notes--merely
a postscript in which the translator declares that he has endeavored
everywhere faithfully to reproduce the peculiar tone of the play and to
preserve the concentration of style which is everywhere characteristic
of Shakespeare. He acknowledges his indebtedness to the Swedish
translation by Hagberg and the German by Schlegel. Inasmuch as this work
was published for wide, general distribution and for reading in the
schools, Lassen cut out the passages which he deemed unsuitable for the
untutored mind. "But," he adds, "with the exception of the last scene of
Act III, which, in its expurgated form, would be too fragmentary (and
which, indeed, does not bear any immediate relation to the action), only
a few isolated passages have been cut. Shakespeare has lost next to
nothing, and a great deal has been gained if I have hereby removed one
ground for the hesitation which most teachers would feel in using the
book in the public schools." In Act III, Scene 5 is omitted entirely,
and obvious passages in other parts of the play.

It has frequently been said that Lassen did little more than
"norvagicize" Lembcke's Danish renderings. And certainly even the most
cursory reading will show that he had Lembcke at hand. But comparison
will also show that variations from Lembcke are numerous and
considerable. Lassen was a man of letters, a critic, and a good student
of foreign languages, but he was no poet, and his _Merchant of Venice_
is, generally speaking, much inferior to Lembcke's. Compare, for
example, the exquisite opening of the fifth act:


  Klart skinner Maanen, i en Nat som denne,
  da Vinden gled med Lys igjennem Løvet,
  og alt var tyst: i slig en Nat forvist
  Trojas Murtinder Troilus besteg,
  til Grækerlejren, til sin Cressida
  udsukkende sin Sjæl.


      Klart skinner Maanen, i en Nat som denne,
      mens Luftningen saa sagte kyssed Træet
      at knapt det sused, i en saadan Nat
      steg Troilus vist up paa Trojas Mur
      og sukked ud sin Sjæl mod Grækerlejren
      der gjemte Cressida.

         I slig en Nat
  sig Thisbe listed ængstelig, over Duggen
  saa Løvens Skygge før hun saa den selv,
  og løb forskrækket bort.

             En saadan Nat
      gik Thisbe bange trippende paa Duggen
      og øjned Løvens Skygge før den selv
      og løb forfærdet bort.

        I slig en Nat
  stod Dido med en Vidjevaand i Haanden
  paa vilden strand, og vinked til Kartago
  sin elsker hjem igjen.

            En saadan Nat
      stod Dido med en Vidjekvist i Haanden
      paa vilden Strand og vinkede sin Elsker
      tilbage til Carthagos Kyst.

         I slig en Nat
  Medea plukked Galder-Urt for Aeson
  hans Ungdom at forny.

              Det var
      en saadan Nat, da sankede Medea
      de Trolddomsurter der foryngede
      den gamle Aeson.


          I slig en Nat
  stjal Jessica sig fra den rige Jøde,
  Løb fra Venedig med en lystig Elsker
  til Belmont uden Stands.

              Og en saadan Nat
      sneg Jessica sig fra den rige Jøde
      og løb med en Landstryger fra Venedig
      herhid til Belmont.


          I slig en Nat
  svor ung Lorenzo at han elsked hende,
  stjal hendes Sjæl med mange Troskabsløfter
  og ikke et var sandt.

              Og en saadan Nat
      svor ung Lorenzo hende Kjærlighed
      og stjal med Troskabseder hendes Hjerte
      og aldrig en var sand.


           I slig en Nat
  skjøn Jessica, den lille Klaffertunge,
  løi paa sin Elsker, og han tilgav hende.

               I slig en Nat
      bagtalte just skjøn Jessica sin Elsker
      ret som en lille Trold, og han tilgav det.


  Jeg gad fortalt dig mer om slig en Nat,
  hvis jeg ei hørte nogen komme--tys!

      Jeg skulde sagtens "overnatte" dig
      hvis ingen kom; men tys, jeg hører der
      Trin af en Mand.

Lembcke's version is faithful to the point of slavishness. Compare,
for example, "Jeg skulde sagtens overnatte dig" with "I would outnight
you." Lassen, though never grossly inaccurate, allows himself greater
liberties. Compare lines 2-6 with the original and with Lembcke. In
every case the Danish version is more faithful than the Norwegian. And
more mellifluous. Why Lassen should choose such clumsy and banal lines

          I slig en Nat
  Trojas Murtinder Troilus besteg

when he could have used Lembcke's, is inexplicable except on the
hypothesis that he was eager to prove his own originality. The remainder
of Lorenzo's first speech is scarcely better. It is neither good
translation nor decent verse.

In 1882 came Lassen's _Julius Caesar_,[20] likewise published as a
supplement to _Folkevennen_ for use in the schools. A short postscript
tells us that the principles which governed in the translation of the
earlier play have governed here also. Lassen specifically declares that
he used Foersom's translation (Copenhagen, 1811) as the basis for the
translation of Antony's oration. A comparison shows that in this scene
Lassen follows Foersom closely--he keeps archaisms which Lembcke
amended. One or two instances:

  Seer, her foer Casii Dolk igjennem den;
  seer, hvilken Rift den nidske Casca gjorde;
  her rammed' den høitelskte Bruti Dolk, etc.

    Se, her foer Cassius' Dolk igjennem den;
    se hvilken Rift den onde Casca gjorde.
    Her stødte Brutus den høitelskede, etc.

      Se! her foer Casii Dolk igjennem den;
      se hvilken Rift den onde Casca gjorde.
      Her rammed den høielskte Bruti Dolk, etc.

    [20. _Julius Caesar_. Et Skuespil af William Shakespeare. Oversat
    af Hartvig Lassen. Udgivet af Selskabet for Folkeoplysningens
    Fremme som første Tillægshefte til _Folkevennen_ for 1882.
    Kristiania, 1882. Grøndal og Søn.]

For the rest, a reading of this translation leaves the same impression
as a reading of _The Merchant of Venice_--it is a reasonably good
piece of work but distinctly inferior to Foersom and to Lembcke's
modernization of Foersom. Lassen clearly had Lembcke at hand; he seldom,
however, followed him for more than a line or two. What is more
important is that there are reminiscences of Foersom not only in
the funeral scene, where Lassen himself acknowledges the fact, but
elsewhere. Note a few lines from the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius
(Act IV, Sc. 3) beginning with Cassius' speech:

  Urge me no more, I shall forget myself.

Foersom (Ed. 1811) has:

  Tir mig ei mer at jeg ei glemmer mig;
  husk Eders Vel--og frist mig ikke mere.

  Bort, svage Mand!

    Er dette muligt?

  Hør mig; jeg vil tale.
  Skal jeg for Eders vilde Sind mig bøie?
  Troer I jeg kyses af en gal Mands Blik?

  O Guder, Guder! skal jeg taale dette?

  Ja, meer. Brum saa dette stolte Hierte brister;
  Gak, viis den Hæftighed for Eders Trælle,
  og faa dem til at skielve. Skal jeg vige,
  og føie Eder? Skal jeg staae og bøie
  mig under Eders Luners Arrighed?
  Ved Guderne, I skal nedsvælge selv
  al Eders Galdes Gift, om end I brast;
  thi fra i dag af bruger jeg Jer kun
  til Moerskab, ja til latter naar I vredes.

And Lassen has:

  _Tirr_ mig ei mer; jeg kunde glemme mig.
  Tænk paa dit eget Vel, frist mig ei længer.

  _Bort, svage Mand_!

  Er dette muligt?

    Hør mig, jeg vil tale.
  Skal jeg _mig bøie_ for din Vredes Nykker?
  Og skræmmes, naar en gal Mand glor paa mig?

  O Guder, Guder! maa jeg taale dette?

  Dette, ja mer end det. Stamp kun mod Brodden,
  ras kun, indtil dit stolte Hjerte brister;
  lad dine Slaver se hvor arg du er
  og _skjelve_. Jeg--skal jeg tilside smutte?
  Jeg gjøre Krus for dig? Jeg krumme Ryg
  naar det behager dig? Ved Guderne!
  Du selv skal _svælge_ al din _Galdes Gift_,
  om saa du brister; thi fra denne Dag
  jeg bruger dig til Moro, ja til Latter,
  naar du er ilsk.

The _italicized_ passages show that the influence of Foersom was felt
in more than one scene. It would be easy to give other instances.

After all this, we need scarcely more than mention Lassen's
_Macbeth_[21] published in 1883. The usual brief note at the end of the
play gives the usual information that, out of regard for the purpose for
which the translation has been made, certain parts of the porter scene
and certain speeches by Malcolm in Act IV, Sc. 3 have been cut. Readers
will have no difficulty in picking them out.

    [21. _Macbeth_. Tragedie af William Shakespeare. Oversat af
    H. Lassen. Udgivet af Selskabet for Folkeoplysningens Fremme som
    andet Tillægshefte til _Folkevennen_ for 1883. Kristiania. Grøndal
    og Søn.]

_Macbeth_ is, like all Lassen's work, dull and prosaic. Like his other
translations from Shakespeare, it has never become popular. The standard
translation in Norway is still the Foersom-Lembcke, a trifle
nationalized with Norwegian words and phrases whenever a new acting
version is to be prepared. And while it is not true that Lassen's
translations are merely norvagicized editions of the Danish, it is true
that they are often so little independent of them that they do not
deserve to supersede the work of Foersom and Lembcke.


Norwegian translations of Shakespeare cannot, thus far, be called
distinguished. There is no complete edition either in Riksmaal or
Landsmaal. A few sonnets, a play or two, a scrap of dialogue--Norway
has little Shakespeare translation of her own. Qualitatively, the case
is somewhat better. Several of the renderings we have considered are
extremely creditable, though none of them can be compared with the
best in Danish or Swedish. It is a grateful task, therefore, to call
attention to the translations by Christen Collin. They are not
numerous--only eleven short fragments published as illustrative material
in his school edition (English text) of _The Merchant of Venice_--[22]
but they are of notable quality, and they save the Riksmaal literature
from the reproach of surrendering completely to the Landsmaal the task
of turning Shakespeare into Norwegian. With the exception of a few lines
from _Macbeth_ and _Othello_, the selections are all from _The Merchant
of Venice_.

    [22. _The Merchant of Venice_. Med Indledning og Anmærkninger ved
    Christen Collin. Kristiania. 1902. (This, of course, does not
    include the translations of the sonnets referred to below.)]

A good part of Collin's success must be attributed to his intimate
familiarity with English. The fine nuances of the language do not escape
him, and he can use it not with precision merely but with audacity and
power. Long years of close and sympathetic association with the
literature of England has made English well-nigh a second mother tongue
to this fine and appreciative critic. But he is more than a critic. He
has more than a little of the true poet's insight and the true poet's
gift of song. All this has combined to give us a body of translations
which, for fine felicity, stand unrivalled in Dano-Norwegian. Many of
these have been prepared for lecture purposes and have never been
printed.[23] Only a few have been perpetuated in this text edition of
_The Merchant of Venice_. We shall discuss the edition itself below.
Our concern here is with the translations. We remember Lassen's and
Lembcke's opening of the fifth act. Collin is more successful than his

  Hvor Maanen straaler! I en nat som denne,
  da milde vindpust kyssed skovens trær
  og alting var saa tyst, i slig en nat
  Troilus kanske steg op paa Trojas mure
  og stønned ud sin sjæl mod Grækerteltene
  hvor Cressida laa den nat.

           I slig en nat
  kom Thisbe angstfuldt trippende over duggen,--
  saa løvens skygge, før hun saa den selv,
  og løb forskrækket bort.

           I slig en nat
  stod Dido med en vidjekvist i haand
  paa havets strand og vinkede Æneas
  tilbage til Karthago.

           I slig en nat
  Medea sanked urter som foryngede
  den gamle Æsons liv.

           I slig en nat
  stjal Jessica sig fra den rige Jøde
  med en forfløien elsker fra Venedig
  og fandt i Belmont ly.

           I en saadan nat
  svor ung Lorenzo at hun var ham kjær
  og stjal med mange eder hendes hjerte,
  men ikke en var sand.

           I slig en nat
  skjøn Jessica, den lille heks, bagtalte
  sin elsker og han--tilgav hende alt.

    [23. I have seen these translations in the typewritten copies
    which Professor Collin distributed among his students.]

"A translation of this passage," says Collin,[24] "can hardly be more
than an approximation, but its inadequacy will only emphasize the
beauty of the original." Nevertheless we have here more than a feeble
approximation. It is not equal to Shakespeare, but it is good Norwegian
poetry and as faithful as translation can or need be. It is difficult to
refrain from giving Portia's plea for mercy, but I shall give instead
Collin's striking rendering of Shylock's arraignment of Antonio:[25]

  Signor Antonio, mangen en gang og tit
  har paa Rialto torv I skjældt mig ud
  for mine pengelaan og mine renter....
  Jeg bar det med taalmodigt skuldertræk,
  for taalmod er jo blit vor stammes merke.

  I kalder mig en vantro, blodgrisk _hund_
  og spytter paa min jødiske gaberdin--
  hvorfor? for brug af hvad der er mit eget!
  Nu synes det, I trænger til min hjælp.

  Nei virkelig? I kommer nu til mig
  og siger: Shylock, laan os penge,--I,
  som slængte eders slim hen paa mit skjæg
  og satte foden paa mig, som I spændte,
  en kjøter fra Jer dør, I be'r om penge!
  Hvad skal jeg svare vel? Skal jeg 'ke svare:
  Har en hund penge? Er det muligt, at
  en kjøter har tre tusinde dukater?
  Eller skal jeg bukke dybt og i trælletone
  med sænket røst og underdanig hvisken
  "Min herre, I spytted paa mig sidste onsdag,
  en anden dag I spændte mig, en tredje
  I kaldte mig en hund; for al den artighed
  jeg laaner Jer saa og saa mange penge?"

    [24. Collin, _op. cit._, _Indledning_, XII.]

    [25. Collin, _op. cit._, _Indledning_, XXVI. (_M. of V._, 1-3)]

It is to be regretted that Collin did not give us Shylock's still more
impassioned outburst to Salarino in Act III. He would have done it well.

It would be a gracious task to give more of this translator's work. It
is, slight though its quantity, a genuine contribution to the body of
excellent translation literature of the world. I shall quote but one
more passage, a few lines from _Macbeth_.[26]

  "Det tyktes mig som hørte jeg en røst;
  Sov aldrig mer! Macbeth har myrdet søvnen,
  den skyldfri søvn, som løser sorgens floke,
  hvert daglivs død, et bad for mødig møie,
  balsam for sjælesaar og alnaturens
  den søde efterret,--dog hovednæringen
  ved livets gjæstebud....

  _Lady Macbeth_:
  Hvad er det, du mener?

  "Sov aldrig mer," det skreg til hele huset.
  Glarais har myrdet søvnen, derfor Cawdor
  skal aldrig mer faa søvn,--Macbeth,
  Macbeth skal aldrig mer faa søvn!"

    [26. Collin, _op. cit._, _Indledning_, XXV. _Macbeth_ II, 1.]


We have hitherto discussed the Norwegian translations of Shakespeare in
almost exact chronological order. It has been possible to do this
because the plays have either been translated by a single man and issued
close together, as in the case of Hartvig Lassen, or they have appeared
separately from the hands of different translators and at widely
different periods. We come now, however, to a group of translations
which, although the work of different men and published independently
from 1901 to 1912, nevertheless belong together. They are all in
Landsmaal and they represent quite clearly an effort to enrich the
literature of the new dialect with translations from Shakespeare. To do
this successfully would, obviously, be a great gain. The Maalstrævere
would thereby prove the capacity of their tongue for the highest, most
exotic forms of literature. They would give to it, moreover, the
discipline which the translation of foreign classics could not fail to
afford. It was thus a renewal of the missionary spirit of Ivar Aasen.
And behind it all was the defiant feeling that Norwegians should have
Shakespeare in Norwegian, not in Danish or bastard Danish.

The spirit of these translations is obvious enough from the opening
sentence of Madhus' preface to his translation of _Macbeth_:[27]
"I should hardly have ventured to publish this first attempt at a
Norwegian translation of Shakespeare if competent men had not urged me
to do so." It is frankly declared to be the first Norwegian translation
of Shakespeare. Hauge and Lassen, to say nothing of the translator of
1818, are curtly dismissed from Norwegian literature. They belong to
Denmark. This might be true if it were not for the bland assumption
that nothing is really Norwegian except what is written in the dialect
of a particular group of Norwegians. The fundamental error of the
"Maalstrævere" is the inability to comprehend the simple fact that
language has no natural, instinctive connection with race. An American
born in America of Norwegian parents _may_, if his parents are energetic
and circumstances favorable, learn the tongue of his father and mother,
but his natural speech, the medium he uses easily, his real
mother-tongue, will be English. Will it be contended that this American
has lost anything in spiritual power or linguistic facility? Quite the
contrary. The use of Danish in Norway has had the unfortunate effect of
stirring up a bitter war between the two literary languages or the two
dialects of the same language, but it has imposed no bonds on the
literary or intellectual powers of a large part of the people, for the
simple reason that these people have long used the language as their
own. And because they live in Norway they have made the speech
Norwegian. Despite its Danish origin, Dano-Norwegian is today as truly
Norwegian as any other Norwegian dialect, and in its literary form it
is, in a sense, more Norwegian than the literary Landsmaal, for the
language of Bjørnson has grown up gradually on Norwegian soil; the
language of Ivar Aasen is not yet acclimatized.

    [27. William Shakespeare: _Macbeth_. I norsk Umskrift ved Olav
    Madhus. Kristiania. 1901. H. Aschehoug & Co.]

For these reasons it will not do to let Madhus' calm assertion go
unchallenged. The fact is that to a large part of the Norwegian people
Lassen's translations represent merely a slightly Danicized form of
their own language, while to the same people the language of Madhus is
at least as foreign as Swedish. This is not the place for a discussion
of "Sprogstriden." We may give full recognition to Landsmaal without
subscribing to the creed of enthusiasts. And it is still easier to give
credit to the excellence of the Shakespeare translations in Landsmaal
without concerning ourselves with the partisanship of the translator.
What shall we say, then, of the _Macbeth_ of Olav Madhus?

First, that it is decidedly good. The tragedy of Macbeth is stark, grim,
stern, and the vigorous, resonant Norwegian fits admirably. There is
little opportunity, as in Aasen's selections from _Romeo and Juliet_ for
those unfortunate contrasts between the homespun of the modern dialect
and the exquisite silk and gossamer of the vocabulary of romance of
a "cultured language." Madhus has been successful in rendering into
Landsmaal scenes as different as the witch-scene, the porter-scene
(which Lassen omitted for fear it would contaminate the minds of school
children), the exquisite lines of the King and Banquo on their arrival
at Macbeth's castle, and Macbeth's last, tragic soliloquy when he learns
of the death of his queen.

Duncan and Banquo arrive at the castle of Macbeth and Duncan speaks
those lovely lines: "This castle has a pleasant seat," etc. Madhus

  Ho hev eit fagert lægje, denne borgi,
  og lufti lyar seg og gjer seg smeiki
  aat vaare glade sansar.

  den tempel-kjære svala, vitnar med,
  at himlens ande blakrar smeikin her,
  med di at ho so gjerne her vil byggje.
  Det finst kje sule eller takskjeggs livd
  og ikkje voll hell vigskar, der ei ho
  hev hengt si lette seng og barne-vogge.
  Der ho mest bur og bræer, hev eg merkt meg,
  er lufti herleg.

This is as light and luminous as possible. Contrast it with the slow,
solemn tempo of the opening of Act I, Sc. 7--Macbeth's "If it were done
when 'tis done," etc.

  Um det var gjort, naar d'er gjort, var det væl,
  um det vart snart gjort; kunde løynmordsverke,
  stengje og binde alle vonde fylgdir
  og, med aa faa hurt honom, naa sitt maal,
  so denne eine støyten som maa til,
  vart enden, alt, det siste som det fyrste
  i tidi her--den havsens øyr og bode
  me sit paa no--,--med live som kjem etter
  det fekk daa vaage voni. Men i slikt
  vert domen sagd alt her. Blodtankane,
  me el, kjem vaksne att og piner oss,
  som gav deim liv og fostra deim; og drykken,
  som me hev blanda eiter i aat andre,
  vert eingong uta miskunn bodin fram
  av rettferds hand aat vaare eigne munnar.

The deep tones of a language born in mountains and along fjords finely
re-echo the dark broodings in Macbeth's soul.

Or take still another example, the witch-scene in Act IV. It opens in
Madhus' version:

  _Fyrste Heks_:
  Tri gong mjava brandut katt.

  _Andre Heks_:
  Tri og ein gong bust-svin peip.

  _Tridje Heks_:
  Val-ramn skrik. D'er tid, d'er tid.

  _Fyrste Heks_:
  Ring um gryta gjeng me tri;
  sleng forgiftigt seid--mang i.
  Gyrme-gro, som under stein
  dagar tredive og ein
  sveita eiter, lat og leid,
  koke fyrst i vaaro seid.

  Tvifaldt træl og møda duble;
  brand frase, seid buble!

  _Andre Heks_:
  Møyrkjøt av ein myr-orm kald
  so i gryta koke skal.
  Ødle-augo, skinnveng-haar,
  hundetunge, froskelaar,
  slève-brodd, firfisle-svórd,
  ule-veng og lyngaal-spórd
  til eit seid som sinn kann rengje
  hèl-sodd-heitt seg saman mengje!

This is not only accurate; it is a decidedly successful imitation of the
movement of the original. Madhus has done a first-rate piece of work.
The language of witch-craft is as international as the language of
science. But only a poet can turn it to poetic use.

Not quite so successful is Macbeth's soliloquy when the death of Lady
Macbeth is announced to him:

          Det skuld'ho drygt med.
  Aat slikt eit ord var komi betre stund.--
  "I morgo" og "i morgo" og "i morgo,"
  slik sig det smaatt fram etter, dag for dag,
  til siste ord i livsens sogubok;
  og kvart "i gaar" hev daarer vegen lyst
  til dust og daude.

It is difficult to say just where the fault lies, but the thing seems
uncouth, a trifle too colloquial and peasant-like. The fault may be the
translator's, but something must also be charged to his medium. The
passage in Shakespeare is simple but it breathes distinction. The
Landsmaal version is merely colloquial, even banal. One fine line
there is:

  "til siste ord i livsens sogubok."

But the rest suggests too plainly the limitations of an uncultivated

In 1905 came a translation of _The Merchant of Venice_ by Madhus,[28]
and, uniform with it, a little book--_Soga um Kaupmannen i Venetia_ (The
Story of The Merchant of Venice) in which the action of the play is told
in simple prose. In the appendatory notes the translator acknowledges
his obligation to Arne Garborg--"Arne Garborg hev gjort mig framifraa
god hjelp, her som med _Macbeth_. Takk og ære hev han."

    [28. William Shakespeare--_Kaupmannen i Venetia_. Paa Norsk ved
    Olav Madhus. Oslo. 1905.]

What we have said of _Macbeth_ applies with no less force here. The
translation is more than merely creditable--it is distinctly good. And
certainly it is no small feat to have translated Shakespeare in all his
richness and fulness into what was only fifty years ago a rustic and
untrained dialect. It is the best answer possible to the charge often
made against Landsmaal that it is utterly unable to convey the subtle
thought of high and cosmopolitan culture. This was the indictment of
Bjørnson,[29] of philologists like Torp,[30] and of a literary critic
like Hjalmar Christensen.[31] The last named speaks repeatedly of the
feebleness of Landsmaal when it swerves from its task of depicting
peasant life. His criticism of the poetry of Ivar Mortensen is one long
variation of this theme--the immaturity of Landsmaal. All of this is
true. A finished literary language, even when its roots go deep into a
spoken language, cannot be created in a day. It must be enriched and
elaborated, and it must gain flexibility from constant and varied use.
It is precisely this apprentice stage that Landsmaal is now in. The
finished "Kultursprache" will come in good time. No one who has read
Garborg will deny that it can convey the subtlest emotions; and Madhus'
translations of Shakespeare are further evidence of its possibilities.

    [29. Bjørnson: _Vort Sprog_.]

    [30. Torp. _Samtiden_, Vol. XIX (1908), p. 408.]

    [31. _Vor Literatur_.]

That Madhus does not measure up to his original will astonish no one
who knows Shakespeare translations in other languages. Even Tieck's
and Schlegel's German, or Hagberg's Swedish, or Foersom's Danish is no
substitute for Shakespeare. Whether or not Madhus measures up to these
is not for me to decide, but I feel very certain that he will not suffer
by comparison with the Danish versions by Wolff, Meisling, Wosemose, or
even Lembcke, or with the Norwegian versions of Hauge and Lassen. The
feeling that one gets in reading Madhus is not that he is uncouth, still
less inaccurate, but that in the presence of great imaginative richness
he becomes cold and barren. We felt it less in the tragedy of _Macbeth_,
where romantic color is absent; we feel it strongly in _The Merchant of
Venice_, where the richness of romance is instinct in every line. The
opening of the play offers a perfect illustration. In answer to
Antonio's complaint "In sooth I know not why I am so sad," etc, Salarino
replies in these stately and sounding lines:

  Your mind is tossing on the ocean;
  There, where your argosies, with portly sail,--
  Like signiors and rich burghers of the flood,
  Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea,--
  Do overpeer the petty traffickers
  That curt'sy to them, do them reverence,
  As they fly by them with their woven wings.

The picture becomes very much less stately in Norwegian folk-speech:

  Paa storehave huskar hugen din,
  der dine langferd-skip med staute segl
  som hovdingar og herremenn paa sjø
  i drusteferd, aa kalle, gagar seg
  paa baara millom kræmarskutur smaa',
  som nigjer aat deim og som helsar audmjukt
  naar dei med vovne vengir framum stryk.

The last two lines are adequate, but the rest has too much the flavor of
Ole and Peer discussing the fate of their fishing-smacks. Somewhat more
successful is the translation of the opening of Act V, doubtless because
it is simpler, less full of remote and sophisticated imagery. By way of
comparison with Lassen and Collin, it may be interesting to have it at

  Ovfagert lyser maanen. Slik ei natt,
  daa milde vindar kysste ljuve tre
  so lindt at knapt dei susa, slik ei natt
  steig Troilus upp paa Troja-murane
  og sukka saali si til Greklands telt,
  der Kressida laag den natti.

          Slik ei natt
  gjekk Thisbe hugrædd yvi doggvaat voll
  og løveskuggen saag fyrr løva kom;
  og rædd ho der-fraa rømde.

          Slik ei natt
  stod Dido med ein siljutein i hand
  paa villan strand og vinka venen sin
  tilbake til Kartago.

          Slik ei natt
  Medea trolldoms-urtir fann, til upp
  aa yngje gamle Æson.

          Slik ei natt
  stal Jessika seg ut fraa judens hus
  og med ein fark til festarmann for av
  so langt som hit til Belmont.

          Slik ei natt
  svor ung Lorenso henne elskhugs eid
  og hjarta hennar stal med fagre ord
  som ikkje aatte sanning.

          Slik ei natt
  leksa ven' Jessika som eit lite troll
  upp for sin kjærst, og han tilgav ho.

  I natteleik eg heldt nok ut med deg,
  um ingin kom; men hyss, eg høyrer stig.

But when Madhus turns from such flights of high poetry to low comedy,
his success is complete. It may be a long time before Landsmaal can
successfully render the mighty line of Marlowe, or the manifold music of
Shakespeare, but we should expect it to give with perfect verity the
language of the people. And when we read the scenes in which Lancelot
Gobbo figures, there is no doubt that here Landsmaal is at home. Note,
for example, Act II, Sc. 1:

  "Samvite mitt vil visst ikkje hjelpe meg med aa røme fraa denne
  juden, husbond min. Fenden stend her attum òlbogen min og segjer til
  meg: "Gobbo, Lanselot Gobbo; gode Lanselot, eller gode Gobbo, bruka
  leggine; tak hyven; drag din veg." Samvite segjer: "nei, agta deg,
  ærlige Gobbo," eller som fyr sagt: "ærlige Lanselot Gobbo, røm
  ikkje; set deg mot røming med hæl og taa!" Men fenden, den
  stormodige, bed meg pakka meg; "fremad mars!" segjer fenden; "legg i
  veg!" segjer fenden; "for alt som heilagt er," segjer fenden; "vaaga
  paa; drag i veg!" Men samvite heng un halsen paa hjarta mitt og
  talar visdom til meg; "min ærlige ven Lanselot, som er son av ein
  ærlig mann, eller rettare: av eit ærligt kvende; for skal eg segja
  sant, so teva det eit grand svidt av far min; han hadde som ein
  attaat-snev; naah; samvite segjer: "du skal ikkje fantegaa." "Du
  skal fantegaa," segjer fenden; "nei; ikkje fantegaa," segjer
  samvite. "Du samvit," segjer eg, "du raader meg godt." "Du fenden,"
  segjer eg, "du raader meg godt." Fylgde eg no samvite, so vart eg
  verande hjaa juden, som--forlate mi synd--er noko som ein devel; og
  rømer eg fraa juden, so lyder eg fenden, som--beintfram sagt--er
  develen sjølv. Visst og sannt: juden er sjølve develen i karnition;
  men etter mitt vit er samvite mit vitlaust, som vil raade meg til aa
  verta verande hjaa juden. Fenden gjev meg den venlegaste raadi; eg
  tek kuten, fenden; hælane mine stend til din kommando; eg tek kuten."

This has the genuine ring. The brisk colloquial vocabulary fits
admirably the brilliant sophistry of the argument. And both could come
only from Launcelot Gobbo. For "the simplicity of the folk" is one of
those fictions which romantic closet study has woven around the study of
"the people."

Of the little re-telling of _The Merchant of Venice_, "Soga um
Kaupmannen i Venetia"[32] which appeared in the same year, nothing need
be said. It is a simple, unpretentious summary of the story with a
certain charm which simplicity and naïveté always give. No name appears
on the title-page, but we are probably safe in attributing it to
Madhus, for in the note to _Kaupmannen i Venetia_ we read: "I _Soga um
Kaupmannen i Venetia_ hev ein sjølve forteljingi som stykkji er bygt

    [32. _Soga um Kaupmannen i Venetia_. Oslo, 1905.]


In the year 1903, midway between the publication of Madhus' _Macbeth_
and the appearance of his _Kaupmannen i Venetia_, there appeared in the
chief literary magazine of the Landsmaal movement, "Syn og Segn," a
translation of the fairy scenes of _A Midsummer Night's Dream_ by Erik
Eggen.[33] This is the sort of material which we should expect Landsmaal
to render well. Oberon and Titania are not greatly different from Nissen
and Alverne in Norwegian fairy tales, and the translator had but to
fancy himself in Alveland to be in the enchanted wood near Athens. The
spirit of the fairy scenes in Shakespeare is akin to the spirit of
Asbjørnson's "Huldre-Eventyr." There is in them a community of feeling,
of fancy, of ideas. And whereas Madhus had difficulty with the sunny
romance of Italy, Eggen in the story of Puck found material ready to
hand. The passage translated begins Act II, Sc. 1, and runs through Act
II to Oberon's words immediately before the entrance of Helen and

  But who comes here? I am invisible;
  And I will overhear their conference.

    [33. _Alveliv. Eller Shakespeare's Midsumarnatt Draum_ ved Erik
    Eggen. _Syn og Segn_, 1903. No. 3-6, pp. (105-114); 248-259.]

Then the translator omits everything until Puck re-enters and Oberon
greets him with the words:

  Velkomen, vandrar; hev du blomen der?
  (Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.)

Here the translation begins again and goes to the exit of Oberon and the
entrance of Lysander and Hermia. This is all in the first selection in
_Syn og Segn_, No. 3.

In the sixth number of the same year (1903) the work is continued. The
translation here begins with Puck's words (Act III):

  What hempen homespuns have we swaggering here?
  So near the cradle of the fairy queen?
  What, a play toward! I'll be an auditor;
  An actor, too, if I see cause.

Then it breaks off again and resumes with the entrance of Puck and
Bottom adorned with an ass's head. Quince's words: "O monstrous! O
strange!" are given and then Puck's speech: "I'll follow you: I'll lead
you about a round." After this there is a break till Bottom's song:

  "The ousel cock, so black of hue," etc.

And now all proceeds without break to the _Hail_ of the last elf called
in to serve Bottom, but the following speeches between Bottom and the
fairies, Cobweb, Mustardseed and Peaseblossom, are all cut, and the
scene ends with Titania's speech:

  "Come, wait upon him, lead him to my bower," etc.

Act III, Sc. 2, follows immediately, but the translation ends with the
first line of Oberon's speech to Puck before the entrance of Demetrius
and Hermia:

  "This falls out better than I could devise."

and resumes with Oberon's words:

  "I'll to my queen and beg her Indian boy,"

and includes (with the omission of the last two lines) Oberon's speech

  "But we are spirits of another sort."

Eggen then jumps to the fourth act and translates Titania's opening
speech. After this there is a break till the entrance of Oberon. The
dialogue between Titania and Oberon is given faithfully, except that
in the speech in which Oberon removes the incantation, all the lines
referring to the wedding of Theseus are omitted; the speeches of Puck,
Oberon, and Titania immediately preceding the entrance of Theseus,
Hippolyta, Egeus, and their train, are rendered.

From Act V the entire second scene is given.

Eggen has, then, attempted to give a translation into Norwegian
Landsmaal of the fairy scenes in _A Midsummer Night's Dream_. He has
confined himself severely to his task as thus limited, even cutting out
lines from the middle of speeches when these lines refer to another part
of the action or to another group of characters. What we have is, then,
a fragment, to be defended only as an experiment, and successful in
proportion as it renders single lines, speeches, or songs well. On the
whole, Eggen has been successful. There is a vigor and directness in his
style which, indeed, seem rather Norwegian than Shakespearean, but which
are, nevertheless, entirely convincing. One is scarcely conscious that
it is a translation. And in the lighter, more romantic passages Eggen
has hit the right tone with entire fidelity. His knowledge is sound. His
notes, though exhibiting no special learning, show clearly that he is
abreast of modern scholarship. Whenever his rendering seems daring, he
accompanies it with a note that clearly and briefly sets forth why a
particular word or phrase was chosen. The standard Danish, Norwegian,
and German translations are known to him, and occasionally he borrows
from them. But he knows exactly why he does borrow. His scholarship
and his real poetic power combine to give us a translation of which
Landsmaal literature has every reason to be proud. We need give only
a few passages. I like the rollicking humor of Puck's words:

  Kor torer uhengt kjeltrings pakk daa skvaldre
  so nære vogga hennar alvemor?
  Kva?--skodespel i gjerdom? Eg vil sjaa paa--
  kann hende spele med, um so eg synest.

And a little farther on when Bottom, adorned with his ass's head,
returns with Puck, and the simple players flee in terror and Puck

  Eg fylgjer dykk og fører rundt i tunn,
  i myr og busk og ormegras og klunger,
  og snart eg er ein hest og snart ein hund,
  ein gris, ein mannvond bjørn, snart flammetungur,
  og kneggjer, gøyr og ryler, murrar, brenn,
  som hest, hund, gris, bjørn, varme--eitt um senn.

we give our unqualified admiration to the skill of the translator. Or,
compare Titania's instructions to the faries to serve her Bottom:

  Ver venlege imot og tén den herren!
  Dans vænt for augo hans, hopp der han gjeng!
  Gjev aprikos og frukt fraa blaabærlid,
  ei korg med druvur, fikjur, morbær i!
  Stel honningsekken bort fraa annsam bi!
  Til Nattljos hennar voksbein slit i fleng,--
  kveik deim paa jonsok-onn i buskeheng!
  Lys for min ven, naar han vil gaa i seng.
  Fraa maala fivreld slit ein fager veng,
  og fraa hans augo maaneljose steng.
  Hels honom so, og kyss til honom sleng.

  _Fyrste Alven_:

  _Andre Alven_:
      Heil deg!

  _Tridje Alven_:

  _Fjerde Alven_:
              Heil og sæl!

  Tén honom so! Leid honom til mitt rom!
  Eg tykkjer maanen er i augo vaat;
  og naar han græt, daa græt kvar litin blom,
  og minnest daa ei tilnøydd dygd med graat.
  Legg handi paa hans munn! Og stilt far aat!

It is, however, in his exquisitely delicate rendering of the songs of
this play--certainly one of the most difficult tasks that a translator
can undertake--that Eggen has done his best work. There is more than a
distant echo of the original in this happy translation of Bottom's song:

  Han trostefar med svarte kropp
    og nebb som appelsin,
  og gjerdesmett med litin topp
    og stare med tone fin.
  Og finke, sporv og lerke graa
    og gauk,--ho, ho![34] han lær,
  so tidt han gjev sin næste smaa;
    men aldri svar han fær.

    [34. The translator explains in a note the pun in the original.]

The marvelous richness of the Norwegian dialects in the vocabulary of
folklore is admirably brought out in the song with which the fairies
sing Titania to sleep:[35]

  _Ein alv_:
  Spettut orm med tungur tvo,
  kvass bust-igel, krjup kje her!
  Øle, staal-orm, fara no,
  kom vaar alvemor ei nær!

  _Alle alvene_:
  Maaltrost, syng med tone full
  du med oss vaart bysselull:
  bysse, bysse, bysselull,
    ei maa vald,
    ei heksegald
  faa vaar dronning ottefull;
  so god natt og bysselull.

  _Ein annan alv_:
  Ingi kongrov vil me sjaa,
  langbeint vevekjering, gakk!
  Svart tordivel, burt her fraa,
  burt med snigil og med makk!

  _Alle alvene_:
  Maaltrost, syng med tone full
  du med oss vaart bysselull:
  bysse, bysse, bysselull,
  bysse, bysse, bysselull,
    ei maa vald,
    ei heksegald
  faa vaar dronning ottefull;
  so god natt og bysselull.

    [35. Act II, Sc. 2.]

It is easy to draw upon this fragment for further examples of felicitous
translation. It is scarcely necessary, however. What has been given is
sufficient to show the rare skill of the translator. He is so fortunate
as to possess in a high degree what Bayard Taylor calls "secondary
inspiration," without which the work of a translator becomes a soulless
mass and frequently degenerates into the veriest drivel. Erik Eggen's
_Alveliv_ deserves a place in the same high company with Taylor's

Nine years later, in 1912, Eggen returned to the task he had left
unfinished with the fairy scenes in _Syn og Segn_ and gave a complete
translation of _A Midsummer Night's Dream_. In a little prefatory note
he acknowledges his indebtedness to Arne Garborg, who critically
examined the manuscript and gave valuable suggestions and advice.
The introduction itself is a restatement in two pages of the
Shakespeare-Essex-Leicester-Elizabeth story. Shakespeare recalls the
festivities as he saw them in youth when he writes in Act II, Sc. 2:

      thou rememberest
  Since once I sat upon a promontory,
  And heard a mermaid upon a dolphin's back, etc.

And it is Elizabeth he has in mind when, in the same scene, we read:

  That very time I saw, but thou could'st not,
  Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
  Cupid all armed, etc.

All of this is given by way of background, and it is of little
importance to the general readers what modern Shakespeare scholars
may say of it.

Eggen has not been content merely to reprint in the complete translation
his earlier work from _Syn og Segn_, but he has made a thoroughgoing
revision.[36] It cannot be said to be altogether happy. Frequently, of
course, a line or phrase is improved or an awkward turn straightened
out, but, as a whole, the first version surpasses the second not in
poetic beauty merely, but in accuracy. Compare, for example, the two
renderings of the opening lines:

  SYN OG SEGN--1903

  Kor no ande! seg, kvar skal du av?

      REVISION OF 1912

      Hallo! Kvar skal du av, du vesle vette?

    Yver dal, yver fjell,
    gjenom vatn, gjenom eld,
    yver gras, yver grind,
    gjenom klunger so stinn,
  yver alt eg smett og kliv
  snøggare enn maanen sviv;
  eg i gras dei ringar doggar,
  der vaar mori dans seg voggar.

      Yver dal, yver fjell,
        gjenom vatn, gjenom eld,
      yver gras, yver grind,
        gjenom klunger so stinn,
      alle stad'r eg smett og kliv
      snøggare enn maanen sviv;
        eg dogge maa
        dei grøne straa
      som vaar dronning dansar paa.

  Hennar vakt mun symrur vera,
  gyllne klæde mun dei bera;
  sjaa dei stjernur alvar gav deim!
  Derfraa kjem all angen av deim.
  Aa sanke dogg--til de eg kom;
  ei perle fester eg til kvar ein blom.
  Far vel, du ande-styving! Eg maa vekk;
  vaar dronning er her ho paa fljugand' flekk.

        Kvart nykelband
        er adelsmann,
      med ordenar dei glime kann;
        kvar blank rubin,
        paa bringa skin,
      utsender ange fin.
        Doggdropar blanke
        skal eg sanke,
        mange, mange,
        dei skal hange
        kvar av hennar
      glimande i øyra.

    [36. William Shakespeare--_Jonsok Draumen_--Eit Gamenspel. Paa
    Norsk ved Erik Eggen. Oslo, 1912.]

Now, admitting that

    eg dogge maa
    dei grøne straa
  som vaar dronning dansar paa.

is a better translation than in the _Syn og Segn_ text--which is
doubtful enough--it is difficult to see what can be the excuse for such
pompous banality as

    Kvart nykelband
    er adelsmann,
  med ordenar dei glime kann;

the first version is not above reproach in this respect. It might
fairly be asked: where does Eggen get his authority for

  sjaa dei stjernur alvar gav deim!

But the lines are not loaded down with imagery which is both misleading
and in bad taste. Eggen should have left his first version unchanged.
Such uninspired prose as:

    kvar blank rubin,
    paa bringa skin,
  utsender ange fin.

have to the ears of most Norwegians the atmosphere of the back stairs.
Better the unadorned version of 1903.

In the passage following, Robin's reply, the revised version is probably
better than the first, though there seems to be little to choose between
them. But in the fairy's next speech the translator has gone quite
beyond his legitimate province, and has improved Shakespeare by a
picture from Norwegian folklore. Following the lines of the original:

  Misleade nightwanderers, laughing at their harm,

Eggen has added this homelike conception in his translation:

  som òg kann draga fôr til hest og naut,
  naar berre du kvar torsdag fær din graut.

Shakespeare in Elysium must have regretted that he was not born in the
mountains of Norway!

And when Robin, in the speech that follows, tells of his antics, one
wonders just a little what has been gained by the revision. The same
query is constantly suggested to anyone who compares the two texts.

Nor do I think that the lyrics have gained by the revision. Just a
single comparison--the lullaby in the two versions. We have given it
above as published in _Syn og Segn_. The following is its revised form:

  _Fyrste alven_:
  Spettut orm, bustyvel kvass,
  eiter-ødle, sleve graa,
  fare burt fraa denne plass,
  so vaar dronning sova maa!

  Maaltrost, syng med oss i lund
  dronningi i sælan blund:
    Byssam, byssam barne,
    gryta heng i jarne.
      Troll og nykk,
    gakk burt med dykk
  denne sæle skymingsstund!
  So god natt! Sov søtt i lund!

  _Andre alven_:
  Burt, tordivel, kom kje her!
  Makk og snigill, burt dykk vinn!
  Kongro, far ei onnor ferd,
  langt ifraa oss din spune spinn!

  Maaltrost, syng med oss i lund, etc.

The first version is not only more literal but, so far as I can judge,
superior in every way--in music and delicacy of phrase. And again, Eggen
has taken it upon himself to patch up Shakespeare with homespun rags
from his native Norwegian parish. It is difficult to say upon what
grounds such tinkerings with the text as:

  Byssam, byssam barne,
  gryta, heng i jarne,

can be defended.

But we have already devoted too much space to this matter. Save for a
few isolated lines, Eggen might very well have left these scenes as he
gave them to us in 1903. We then ask, "What of the much greater part of
the play now translated for the first time?" Well, no one will dispute
the translator's triumph in this scene:[37]

  Er heile kompanie samla?

  Det er best du ropar deim upp alle saman, mann for mann, etter

  Her er ei liste yver namni paa alle deim som me i heile Atén finn
  mest høvelege til aa spela i millomstykke vaareses framfyre hertugen
  og frua hans paa brudlaupsdagen um kvelden.

  Du Per Mønsaas, lyt fyrst segja kva stykke gjeng ut paa; les so upp
  namni paa spelarne, og so--til saki.

  Ja vel. Stykke heiter: "Det grøtelege gamanspele um Pyramus og Tisbi
  og deira syndlege daude."

  Verkeleg eit godt stykke arbeid, skal eg segja dykk, og morsamt med.
  No, min gode Per Mønsaas, ropa upp spelarne etter lista. Godtfolk,
  spreid dykk.

  Svara ettersom eg ropar dykk upp.
  Nils Varp, vevar?

  Her! Seg kva for ein rolle eg skal hava, og haldt so fram.

  Du, Nils Varp, er skrivin for Pyramus.

  Kva er Pyramus for slags kar? Ein elskar eller ein fark?

  Ein elskar som drep seg sjølv paa ægte riddarvis av kjærleik.

  Det kjem til aa koste taarur um ein spelar det retteleg. Fær eg
  spela det, so lyt nok dei som ser paa, sjaa til kvar dei hev augo
  sine; eg skal grøte steinen, eg skal jamre so fælt so. For resten,
  mi gaave ligg best for ein berserk. Eg skulde spela herr Kules
  fraamifra--eller ein rolle, der eg kann klore og bite og slaa all
  ting i mòl og mas:
    Og sprikk det fjell
    med toresmell,
    daa sunder fell
    kvar port so sterk.
    Stig Føbus fram
    bak skyatram,
    daa sprikk med skam
    alt gygere-herk.
  Det der laag no høgt det. Nemn so resten av spelarane. Dette var
  rase til herr Kules, berserk-ras; ein elskar er meir klagande.

    [37. Act II, Sc. 2.]

There can be no doubt about the genuineness of this. It catches the
spirit of the original and communicates it irresistibly to the reader.
When Bottom (Varp) says "Kva er Pyramus for slags kar?" or when he
threatens, "Eg skal grøte steinen, eg skal jamre so fælt so," one who
has something of Norwegian "Sprachgefühl" will exclaim that this is
exactly what it should be. It is not the language of Norwegian
artisans--they do not speak Landsmaal. But neither is the language of
Shakespeare's craftsmen the genuine spoken language of Elizabethan
craftsmen. The important thing is that the tone is right. And this
feeling of a right tone is still further satisfied in the rehearsal
scene (III, Sc. 1). Certain slight liberties do not diminish our
pleasure. The reminiscence of _Richard III_ in Bottom's, "A calendar, a
calendar, looke in the Almanack, finde out moonshine," translated "Ei
almanakke, ei almanakke, mit kongerike for ei almanakke," seems,
however, a labored piece of business. One line, too, has been added to
this speech which is a gratuitous invention of the translator, or
rather, taken from the curious malaprop speech of the laboring classes;
"Det er rett, Per Mønsaas; sjaa millom aspektarane!" There can be no
objection to an interpolation like this if the translation does not aim
to be scholarly and definitive, but merely an effort to bring a foreign
classic home to the masses. And this is, obviously, Eggen's purpose.
Personally I do not think, therefore, that there is any objection to a
slight freedom like this. But it has no place at all in the fairies'

When we move to the circle of the high-place lovers or the court,
I cannot feel that the Landsmaal is quite so convincing. There is
something appallingly clumsy, labored, hard, in this speech of Hermia's:

      Min eigin gut,
  eg sver ved beste bogen Amor hev,
  ved beste pili hans, med odd av gull,
  ved duvune, dei reine og dei kvite
  som flyg paa tun hjaa fagre Afrodite,
  ved det som knyter mannehjarto saman,
  ved det som føder kjærlerks fryd og gaman,
  ved baale, der seg dronning Dido brende,
  daa seg Æneas trulaus fraa ho vende,
  ved kvar den eid som falske menn hev svori--
  langt fleir enn kvinnelippur fram hev bori,
  at paa den staden du hev nemnt for meg,
  der skal i morgo natt eg møte deg.

In spite of the translator's obvious effort to put fire into the
passage, his failure is all too evident. Even the ornament of these
lines--to which there is nothing to correspond in the original--only
makes the poetry more forcibly feeble:

  ved duvune, dei reine og dei kvite
  som flyg paa tun hjaa fagre Afrodite,

Shakespeare says quite simply:

  By the simplicity of Venus Doves,

and to anyone but a Landsmaal fanatic it seems ridiculous to have
Theseus tell Hermia: "Demetrius er so gild ein kar som nokon."
"Demetrius is a worthy gentleman," says Shakespeare and this has
"the grand Manner." But to a cultivated Norwegian the translation is
"Bauernsprache," such as a local magnate might use in forcing a suitor
on his daughter.

All of which goes back to the present condition of Landsmaal. It has
little flexibility, little inward grace. It is not a finished literary
language. But, despite its archaisms, Landsmaal is a living language and
it has, therefore, unlike the Karathevusa of Greece, the possibility of
growth. The translations of Madhus and Aasen and Eggen have made notable
contributions to this development. They are worthy of all praise. Their
weaknesses are the result of conditions which time will change.


One might be tempted to believe from the foregoing that the
propagandists of "Maalet" had completely monopolized the noble task of
making Shakespeare accessible in the vernacular. And this is almost
true. But the reason is not far to seek. Aside from the fact that in
Norway, as elsewhere, Shakespeare is read mainly by cultivated people,
among whom a sound reading knowledge of English is general, we have
further to remember that the Foersom-Lembcke version has become standard
in Norway and no real need has been felt of a separate Norwegian version
in the dominant literary language. In Landsmaal the case is different.
This dialect must be trained to "Literaturfähigkeit." It is not so much
that Norway must have her own Shakespeare as that Landsmaal must be put
to use in every type of literature. The results of this missionary
spirit we have seen.

One of the few translations of Shakespeare that have been made into
Riksmaal appeared in 1912, _Hamlet_, by C.H. Blom. As an experiment it
is worthy of respect, but as a piece of literature it is not to be taken
seriously. Like Lassen's work, it is honest, faithful, and utterly

The opening scene of _Hamlet_ is no mean test of a translator's
ability--this quick, tense scene, one of the finest in dramatic
literature. Foersom did it with conspicuous success. Blom has reduced
it to the following prosy stuff:

  Hvem der?

  Nei, svar mig først; gjør holdt og sig hvem der!

  Vor konge længe leve!

      De, Bernardo?

  Ja vel.

      De kommer jo paa klokkeslaget.

  Ja, den slog tolv nu. Gaa til ro, Francisco.

  Tak for De løser av. Her er saa surt, og jeg er dødsens træt.

  Har du hat rolig vagt?

      En mus har ei
  sig rørt.

      Nu vel, god nat.
  Hvis du Marcellus og Horatio ser,
  som skal ha vakt med mig, bed dem sig skynde.

  Jeg hører dem vist nu. Holdt hoi! Hvem der.
    (Horatio og Marcellus kommer.)

  Kun landets venner.

      Danekongens folk!

  God nat, sov godt!

      Godnat, du bra soldat!
  Hvem har løst av?

      Bernardo staar paa post.
  God nat igjen. (Gaar.)

It requires little knowledge of Norwegian to dismiss this as dull
and insipid prose, a part of which has accidentally been turned into
mechanical blank verse. Moreover, the work is marked throughout by
inconsistency and carelessness in details. For instance the king begins
(p. 7) by addressing Laertes:

  Hvad melder _De_ mig om _Dem_ selv, Laertes?

and two lines below:

  Hvad kan _du_ be mig om?

It might be a mere slip that the translator in one line uses the formal
_De_ and in another the familiar _du_, but the same inconsistency occurs
again and again throughout the volume. In itself a trifle, it indicates
clearly enough the careless, slipshod manner of work--and an utter lack
of a sense of humor, for no one with a spark of humor would use the
modern, essentially German _De_ in a Norwegian translation of
Shakespeare. If a formal form must be used it should, as a matter
of course, be _I_.

Nor is the translation itself so accurate as it should be. For example,
what does it mean when Marcellus tells Bernardo that he had implored
Horatio "at vogte paa minutterne inat" (to watch over the minutes this
night)? Again, in the King's speech to Hamlet (Act I, Sc. 2) the phrase
"bend you to remain" is rendered by the categorical "se til at bli
herhjemme," which is at least misleading. Little inaccuracies of this
sort are not infrequent.

But, after all, a translator with a new variorum and a wealth of
critical material at hand cannot go far wrong in point of mere
translation. The chief indictment to be made against Blom's translation
is its prosiness, its prosy, involved sentences, its banality. What in
Shakespeare is easy and mellifluous often becomes in Blom so vague that
its meaning has to be discovered by a reference to the original.

We gave, some pages back, Ivar Aasen's translation of Hamlet's
soliloquy. The interesting thing about that translation is not only that
it is the first one in Norwegian but that it was made into a new dialect
by the creator of that dialect himself. When we look back and consider
what Aasen had to do--first, make a literary medium, and then pour into
the still rigid and inelastic forms of that language the subtlest
thinking of a great world literature--we gain a new respect for his
genius. Fifty years later Blom tried his hand at the same soliloquy. He
was working in an old and tried literary medium--Dano-Norwegian. But he
was unequal to the task:

  At være eller ikke være, det
  problemet er: Om det er større av
  en sjæl at taale skjæbnens pil og slynge
  end ta til vaaben mot et hav av plager
  og ende dem i kamp? At dø,--at sove,
  ei mer; og tro, at ved en søvn vi ender
  vor hjerteve og livets tusen støt,
  som kjød er arving til--det maal for livet
  maa ønskes inderlig. At dø,--at sove--
  at sove!--Kanske drømme! Der er knuten;
  for hvad i dødsens søvn vi monne drømme,
  naar livets lænke vi har viklet av,
  det holder os igjen; det er det hensyn,
  som gir vor jammer her saa langt et liv' etc.


Much more interesting than Blom's attempt, and much more significant,
is a translation and working over of _As You Like It_ which appeared
in November of the same year. The circumstances under which this
translation were made are interesting. Fru Johanne Dybwad, one of the
"stars" at the National Theater was completing her twenty-fifth year
of service on the stage, and the theater wished to commemorate the event
in a manner worthy of the actress. For the gala performance, Herman
Wildenvey, a poet of the young Norway, made a new translation and
adaptation of _As You Like It_.[38] And no choice could have been more
felicitous. Fru Dybwad had scored her greatest success as Puck; the life
and sparkle and jollity of that mischievous wight seemed like a poetic
glorification of her own character. It might be expected, then, that she
would triumph in the rôle of Rosalind.

    [38: _As You Like It_, eller _Livet i Skogen_. Dramatisk Skuespil
    av William Shakespeare. Oversat og bearbeidet for Nationaltheatret
    av Herman Wildenvey. Kristiania og København. 1912.]

Then came the problem of a stage version. A simple cutting of Lembcke
seemed inappropriate to this intensely modern woman. There was danger,
too, that Lembcke's faithful Danish would hang heavy on the light and
sparkling Norwegian. Herman Wildenvey undertook to prepare an acting
version that should fit the actress and the occasion. The result is the
text before us. For the songs and intermissions, Johan Halvorsen,
Kapelmester of the theater, composed new music and the theater provided
a magnificent staging. The tremendous stage-success of Wildenvey's _As
You Like It_ belongs rather to stage history, and for the present we
shall confine ourselves to the translation itself.

First, what of the cutting? In a short introduction the translator has
given an apologia for his procedure. It is worth quoting at some length.
"To adapt a piece of literature is, as a rule, not especially
commendable. And now, I who should be the last to do it, have become the
first in this country to attempt anything of the sort with Shakespeare.

"I will not defend myself by saying that most of Shakespeare's plays
require some sort of adaptation to the modern stage if they are to be
played at all. But, as a matter of fact, I have done little adapting. I
have dusted some of the speeches, maltreated others, and finally cut out
a few which would have sputtered out of the mouths of the actors like
fringes of an old tapestry. But, above all, I have tried to reproduce
the imperishable woodland spirit, the fresh breath of out-of-doors which
permeates this play."

Wildenvey then states that in his cuttings he has followed the edition
of the British Empire Shakespeare Society. But the performance in
Kristiania has demanded more, "and my adaptation could not be so
wonderfully ideal. _As You Like It_ is, probably more than any other of
Shakespeare's plays, a jest and only in part a play. Through the title
he has given his work, he has given me the right to make my own
arrangement which is accordingly, yours truly _As You Like It_."

But the most cursory examination will show that this is more than a mere
"cutting." In the first place, the five acts have been cut to four and
scenes widely separated, have often been brought together. In this way
unnecessary scene-shifts have been avoided. But the action has been kept
intact and only two characters have been eliminated: Jacques de Bois,
whose speeches have been given to Le Beau, and Hymen, whose rôle has
been given to Celia. Two or three speeches have been shifted. But to a
reader unacquainted with Shakespeare all this would pass unnoticed, as
would also, doubtless, the serious cutting and the free translation.

A brief sketch of Wildenvey's arrangement will be of service.

[Transcriber's Note:
The summary is given here exactly as it appears in Ruud's text. Note
in particular Wildenvey's I, 2, and Shakespeare's II, 1.]

  Act I, Sc. 1.

  An open place on the road to Sir Oliver's house.

  The scene opens with a short, exceedingly free rendering of
  Orlando's speech and runs on to the end of Scene 1 in Shakespeare.

  Act I, Sc. 2.

  Outside of Duke Frederik's Palace.

  Begins with I, 2 and goes to I, 3. Then follows without change of
  scene, I, 3. and, following that, 1, 3.

  Act II.

  In Wildenvey this is all one scene.

  Opens with a rhapsodical conversation between the banished duke and
  Amiens on the glories of nature and the joys of out-door life. It is
  fully in Shakespeare's tone, but Wildenvey's own invention. After
  this the scene continues with II, 1. The first lord's speech in
  Wildenvey, however, is merely a free adaptation of the original, and
  the later speech of the first lord, describing Jacques' reveries on
  the hunt, is put into the mouth of Jacques himself. A few entirely
  new speeches follow and the company goes out upon the hunt.

  There is then a slight pause, but no scene division, and Shakespeare's
  II, 4 follows. This is succeeded again without a break, by II, 5, II,
  6, and II, 7 (the opening of II, 7 to the entrance of Jacques, is
  omitted altogether) to the end of the act.

  Act III.

  This act has two scenes.

  Sc. 1. In Duke Frederik's palace. It opens with II, I and then
  follows III, 1.

  Sc. 2. In the Forest of Arden. Evening.

  Begins with III, 2. Then follows III, 4, III, 5, IV, 1.

  Act IV.

  Wildenvey's last act (IV) opens with Shakespeare's IV, 2 and
  continues: IV, 3, V, 1, V, 2, V, 3, V, 4.

A study of this scheme shows that Wildenvey has done no great violence
to the fable nor to the characters. His shifts and changes are sensible
enough. In the treatment of the text, however, he has had no scruples.
Shakespeare is mercilessly cut and mangled.

The ways in which this is done are many. A favorite device is to break
up long speeches into dialogue. To make this possible he has to put
speeches of his own invention into the mouths of other characters. The
opening of the play gives an excellent illustration. In Wildenvey we

  _Orlando_: (kommer ind med tjeneren Adam)
  Nu kan du likesaa godt faa vite hvordan alle mine bedrøveligheter
  begynder, Adam! Min salig far testamenterte mig nogen fattige tusen
  kroner og paala uttrykkelig min bror at gi mig en standsmæssig
  opdragelse. Men se hvordan han opfylder sin broderpligt mot mig!
  Han lar min bror Jacques studere, og rygtet melder om hans store
  fremgang. Men mig underholder han hjemme, det vil si, han holder mig
  hjemme uten at underholde mig. For man kan da vel ikke kalde det at
  underholde en adelsmand som ellers regnes for at staldfore en okse!

  Det er synd om Eder, herre, I som er min gamle herres bedste søn!
  Men jeg tjener Eders bror, og er alene tjener...

  Her hos ham har jeg ikke kunnet lægge mig til noget andet end vækst,
  og det kan jeg være ham likesaa forbunden for som hans husdyr hist
  og her. Formodentlig er det det jeg har arvet av min fars aand som
  gjør oprør mot denne behandling. Jeg har ingen utsigt til nogen
  forandring til det bedre, men hvad der end hænder, vil jeg ikke
  taale det længer.

Orlando's speech, we see, has been broken up into two, and between the
two new speeches has been interpolated a speech by Adam which does not
occur in the original. The same trick is resorted to repeatedly. Note,
for instance, Jacques first speech on the deer (Act II, 7) and Oliver's
long speech in IV, 3. The purpose of this is plain enough--to enliven
the dialogue and speed up the action. Whether or not it is a legitimate
way of handling Shakespeare is another matter.

More serious than this is Wildenvey's trick of adding whole series of
speeches. We have noted in our survey of the "bearbeidelse" that the
second act opens with a dialogue between the Duke and Amiens which is a
gratuitous addition of Wildenvey's. It is suggested by the original,
but departs from it radically both in form and content.

  Den Landflygtige Hertug (kommer ut fra en grotte i skogen)
  Vær hilset, dag, som lægges til de andre
  av mine mange motgangs dage.
  Vær hilset nu, naar solen atter stempler
  sit gyldne segl paa jordens stolte pande.
  Vær hilset, morgen, med din nye rigdom,
  med dug og duft fra alle trær og blomster.
  Glade, blanke fugleøines perler
  blinker alt av sol som duggens draaper,
  hilser mig som herre og som ven. (En fugl flyver op over hans hode.)
  Ei, lille sangerskjelm, godt ord igjen?

  (hertugens ven, kommer likeledes ut av hulen).
  Godmorgen, ven og broder i eksilet.

  Godmorgen, Amiens, du glade sanger!
  Du er vel enig i at slik en morgen
  i skogen her med al dens liv og lek
  er fuld erstatning for den pragt vi tapte,
  ja mer end hoffets smigergyldne falskhet?

  Det ligner litt paa selve Edens have,
  og trær og dyr og andre forekomster
  betragter os som Adamer, kanhænde.

  Din spøg er vel en saadan sanger værd.
  Du mener med at her er alting herlig,
  sommer, vinter, vaar og høsttid veksler.
  Solen skinner, vind og veiret driver.
  Vinterblaasten blaaser op og biter
  og fortæller uden sminket smiger
  hvem vi er, og hvor vi os befinder.
  Ja, livet her er ei ly for verdens ondskap,
  er stolt og frit og fuldt av rike glæder:
  hver graasten synes god og kirkeklok,
  hvert redetræ er jo en sangers slot,
  og alt er skjønt, og alt er saare godt.

  Du er en godt benaadet oversætter,
  naar du kan tolke skjæbnens harske talesæt
  i slike sterke, stemningsfulde ord...

  (En hofmand, derefter Jacques og tjenere kommer.)

  Godmorgen, venner--vel, saa skal vi jage
  paa vildtet her, de vakre, dumme borgere
  av denne øde og forlate stad...

  Det er synd at søndre deres vakre lemmer
  med pile-odd.

      Det samme sier du altid,
  du er for melankolsk og bitter, Jacques.

A careful comparison of the translation with the original will reveal
certain verbal resemblances, notably in the duke's speech:

  Din spøk er vel en saadan sanger værd, etc.

But, even allowing for that, it is a rephrasing rather than a
translation. The stage action, too, is changed. Notice that Jacques
appears in the scene, and that in the episode immediately following, the
second part of the first lord's speech is put into Jacques' mouth. In
other words, he is made to caricature himself!

This is Wildenvey's attitude throughout. To take still another example.
Act IV, 2 begins in the English with a brief dialogue in prose between
Jacques and the two lords. In Wildenvey this is changed to a rhymed
dialogue in iambic tetrameters between Jacques and Amiens. In like
manner, the blank verse dialogue between Silvius and Phebe (Silvius and
Pippa) is in Norwegian rendered, or rather paraphrased, in iambic verse
rhyming regularly abab.

Occasionally meanings are read into the play which not only do not
belong in Shakespeare but which are ridiculously out of place. As an
illustration, note the dialogue between Orlando and Rosalind in II, 2
(Original, III, 2). Orlando remarks: "Your accent is something finer
than could be purchased in so remote a dwelling." Wildenvey renders
this: "Eders sprog er mer elevert end man skulde vente i disse vilde
trakter. De taler ikke Landsmaal." Probably no one would be deceived by
this gratuitous satire on the Landsmaal, but, obviously, it has no place
in what pretends to be a translation. The one justification for it is
that Shakespeare himself could not have resisted so neat a word-play.

Wildenvey's version, therefore, can only be characterized as needlessly
free. For the text as such he has absolutely no regard. But for the fact
that he has kept the fable and, for the most part, the characters,
intact, we should characterize it as a belated specimen of Sille Beyer's
notorious Shakespeare "bearbeidelser" in Denmark. But Wildenvey does not
take Sille Beyer's liberties with the dramatis personae and he has,
moreover, what she utterly lacked--poetic genius.

For that is the redeeming feature of _Livet i Skogen_--it does not
translate Shakespeare but it makes him live. The delighted audience
which sat night after night in Christiania and Copenhagen and drank in
the loveliness of Wildenvey's verse and Halvorsen's music cared little
whether the lines that came over the footlights were philologically an
accurate translation or not. They were enchanted by Norwegian verse and
moved to unfeigned delight by the cleverness of the prose. If Wildenvey
did not succeed in translating _As You Like It_--one cannot believe that
he ever intended to,--he did succeed in reproducing something of "its
imperishable woodland spirit, its fresh breath of out-of-doors."

We have already quoted the opening of Act II. It is not Shakespeare but
it is good poetry in itself. And the immortal scene between Touchstone
and Corin in III, 2 (Shak. III, 2), in which Touchstone clearly proves
that the shepherd is damned, is a capital piece of work. The following
fragment must serve as an example:

  Har du været ved hoffet, hyrde?

  Visselig ikke.

  Da er du evig fordømt.

  Det haaber jeg da ikke.

  Visselig, da er du fordømt som en sviske.

  Fordi jeg ikke har været ved hoffet? Hvad mener I?

  Hvis du ikke har været ved hoffet, saa har du aldrig set gode seder,
  og hvis du ikke har set gode seder, saa maa dine seder være slette,
  og slette seder er synd, og syndens sold er død og fordømmelse. Du
  er i en betænkelig tilstand, hyrde!

And the mocking verses all rhyming in _in-ind_ in III, 3 (Shak. III, 2):
"From the East to western Ind," etc., are given with marvelous

  Fra øst til vest er ei at finde
  en ædelsten som Rosalinde.
  Al verden om paa alle vinde
  skal rygtet gaa om Rosalinde.
  Hvor har en maler nogensinde
  et kunstverk skapt som Rosalinde?
  Al anden deilighet maa svinde
  av tanken bort--for Rosalinde.

Or Touchstone's parody:

  Hjorten skriker efter hinde,
  skrik da efter Rosalinde,
  kat vil katte gjerne finde,
  hvem vil finde Rosalinde.
  Vinterklær er tit for tynde,
  det er ogsaa Rosalinde.
  Nøtten søt har surhamshinde,
  slik en nøtt er Rosalinde.
  Den som ros' med torn vil finde,
  finder den--og Rosalinde.

With even greater felicity Wildenvey has rendered the songs of the play.
His verses are not, in any strict sense, translations, but they have a
life and movement which, perhaps, interpret the original more fully than
any translation could interpret it. What freshness and sparkle in "Under
the Greenwood Tree!" I give only the first stanza:

  Under de grønne trær
  hvem vil mig møte der?
  Hvem vil en tone slaa
  frit mot det blide blaa?
  Kom hit og herhen, hit og herhen,
  kom, kjære ven,
    her skal du se,
    trær skal du se,
  sommer og herlig veir skal du se.

Or what could be better than the exhilirating text of "Blow, blow, thou
winter wind," as Wildenvey has given it? Again only the first stanza:

    Blaas, blaas du barske vind,
    troløse venners sind
    synes os mere raa.
    Bar du dig end saa sint,
    bet du dog ei saa blindt,
    pustet du ogsaa paa.
  Heiho! Syng heiho! i vor skog under løvet.
  Alt venskap er vammelt, al elskov er tøvet,
    men her under løvet
    er ingen bedrøvet.

_Livet i Skogen_, then, must not be read as a translation of _As You
Like It_, but is immensely worth reading for its own sake. Schiller
recast and rewrote _Macbeth_ in somewhat the same way, but Schiller's
_Macbeth_, condemned by its absurd porter-scene, is today nothing
more than a literary curiosity. I firmly believe that Wildenvey's
"bearbeidelse" deserves a better fate. It gave new life to the
Shakespeare tradition on the Norwegian stage, and is in itself,
a genuine contribution to the literature of Norway.


If we look over the field of Norwegian translation of Shakespeare,
the impression we get is not one to inspire awe. The translations are
neither numerous nor important. There is nothing to be compared with the
German of Tieck and Schlegel the Danish of Foersom, or the Swedish of

But the reason is obvious. Down to 1814 Norway was politically and
culturally a dependency of Denmark. Copenhagen was the seat of
government, of literature, and of polite life. To Copenhagen cultivated
Norwegians looked for their models and their ideals. When Shakespeare
made his first appearance in the Danish literary world--Denmark and
Norway--it was, of course, in pure Danish garb. Boye, Rosenfeldt,
and Foersom gave to their contemporaries more or less satisfactory
translations of Shakespeare, and Norwegians were content to accept the
Danish versions. In one or two instances they made experiments of their
own. An unknown man of letters translated a scene from _Julius Caesar_
in 1782, and in 1818 appeared a translation of _Coriolanus_. But there
is little that is typically Norwegian about either of these--a word or a
phrase here and there. For the rest, they are written in pure Danish,
and but for the title-page, no one could tell whether they were
published in Copenhagen or Christiania and Trondhjem.

In the meantime Foersom had begun his admirable Danish translations,
and the work stopped in Norway. The building of a nation and literary
interests of another character absorbed the attention of the cultivated
world. Hauge's translation of _Macbeth_ is not significant, nor are
those of Lassen thirty years later. A scholar could, of course, easily
show that they are Norwegian, but that is all. They never succeeded in
displacing Foersom-Lembcke.

More important are the Landsmaal translations beginning with Ivar
Aasen's in 1853. They are interesting because they mark one of the most
important events in modern Norwegian culture--the language struggle.
Ivar Aasen set out to demonstrate that "maalet" could be used in
literature of every sort, and the same purpose, though in greatly
tempered form, is to be detected in every Landsmaal translation since.
Certainly in their outward aim they have succeeded. And, despite the
handicap of working in a language new, rough, and untried, they have
given to their countrymen translations of parts of Shakespeare which
are, at least, as good as those in "Riksmaal."

Herman Wildenvey stands alone. His work is neither a translation nor
a mere paraphrase; it is a reformulating of Shakespeare into a new work
of art. He has accomplished a feat worth performing, but it cannot be
called translating Shakespeare. It must be judged as an independent

Whether Norway is always to go to Denmark for her standard Shakespeare,
or whether she is to have one of her own is, as yet, a question
impossible to answer. A pure Landsmaal translation cannot satisfy, and
many Norwegians refuse to recognize the Riksmaal as Norwegian at all. In
the far, impenetrable future the language question may settle itself,
and when that happy day comes, but not before, we may look with some
confidence for a "standard" Shakespeare in a literary garb which all
Norwegians will recognize as their own.


Shakespeare Criticism In Norway

The history of Shakespearean translation in Norway cannot, by any
stretch of the imagination, be called distinguished. It is not, however,
wholly lacking in interesting details. In like manner the history of
Shakespearean criticism, though it contains no great names and no
fascinating chapters, is not wholly without appeal and significance. We
shall, then, in the following, consider this division of our subject.

Our first bit of Shakespearean criticism is the little introductory note
which the anonymous translator of the scenes from _Julius Caesar_ put at
the head of his translation in _Trondhjems Allehaande_ for October 23,
1782. And even this is a mere statement that the passage in the original
"may be regarded as a masterpiece," and that the writer purposes to
render not merely Antony's eloquent appeal but also the interspersed
ejaculations of the crowd, "since these, too, are evidence of
Shakespeare's understanding of the human soul and of his realization
of the manner in which the oration gradually brought about the result
toward which Antony aimed."

This is not profound criticism, to be sure, but it shows clearly that
this litterateur in far-away Trondhjem had a definite, if not a very new
and original, estimate of Shakespeare. It is significant that there is
no hint of apology, of that tone which is so common in Shakespearean
criticism of the day--Shakespeare was a great poet, but his genius was
wild and untamed. This unknown Norwegian, apparently, had been struck
only by the verity of the scene, and in that simplicity showed himself a
better critic of Shakespeare than many more famous men. Whoever he was,
his name is lost to us now. He deserves better than to be forgotten,
but it seems that he was forgotten very early. Foersom refers to him
casually, as we have seen, but Rahbek does not mention him.[1] Many
years later Paul Botten Hansen, one of the best equipped bookmen that
Norway has produced, wrote a brief review of Lembcke's translation. In
the course of this he enumerates the Dano-Norwegian translations known
to him. There is not a word about his countryman in Trondhjem.[2]

    [1. "Shakespeareana i Danmark"--_Dansk Minerva_, 1816 (III)
    pp. 151 ff.]

    [2. _Illustreret Nyhedsblad_, 1865, pp. 96 ff.]

After this solitary landmark, a long time passed before we again find
evidence of Shakespearean studies in Norway. The isolated translation
of _Coriolanus_ from 1818 shows us that Shakespeare was read, carefully
and critically read, but no one turned his attention to criticism or
scholarly investigation. Indeed, I have searched Norwegian periodical
literature in vain for any allusion to Shakespeare between 1782 and
1827. Finally, in the latter year _Den Norske Husven_ adorns its
title-page with a motto from Shakespeare. _Christiania Aftenbladet_
for July 19, 1828, reprints Carl Bagger's clever poem on Shakespeare's
reputed love-affair with "Fanny," an adventure which got him into
trouble and gave rise to the bon-mot, "William the Conqueror ruled
before Richard III." The poem was reprinted from _Kjöbenhavns Flyvende
Post_ (1828); we shall speak of it again in connection with our study of
Shakespeare in Denmark.

After this there is another break. Not even a reference to Shakespeare
occurs in the hundreds of periodicals I have examined, until the long
silence is broken by a short, fourth-hand article on Shakespeare's life
in _Skilling Magazinet_ for Sept. 23, 1843. The same magazine gives a
similar popular account in its issue for Sept. 4, 1844. Indeed, several
such articles and sketches may be found in popular periodicals of the
years following.

In 1855, however, appeared Niels Hauge's afore mentioned translation of
_Macbeth_, and shortly afterward Professor Monrad, who, according to
Hauge himself, had at least given him valuable counsel in his work,
wrote a review in _Nordisk Tidsskrift for Videnskab og Literatur_.[3]
Monrad was a pedant, stiff and inflexible, but he was a man of good
sense, and when he was dealing with acknowledged masterpieces he could
be depended upon to say the conventional things well.

    [3. See Vol. III (1855), pp. 378 ff.]

He begins by saying that if any author deserves translation it
is Shakespeare, for in him the whole poetic, romantic ideal of
Protestantism finds expression. He is the Luther of poetry, though
between Luther and Shakespeare there is all the difference between
religious zeal and the quiet contemplation of the beautiful. Both belong
to the whole world, Shakespeare because his characters, humor, art,
reflections, are universal in their validity and their appeal. Wherever
he is read he becomes the spokesman against narrowness, dogmatism, and
intolerance. To translate Shakespeare, he points out, is difficult
because of the archaic language, the obscure allusions, and the intense
originality of the expression. Shakespeare, indeed, is as much the
creator as the user of his mother-tongue. The one translation of
_Macbeth_ in existence, Foersom's, is good, but it is only in part
Shakespeare, and the times require something more adequate and
"something more distinctly our own." Monrad feels that this should
not be altogether impossible "when we consider the intimate relations
between England and Norway, and the further coincidence that the
Norwegian language today is in the same state of flux and transition,
as was Elizabethan English." All translations at present, he continues,
can be but experiments, and should aim primarily at a faithful rendering
of the text. Monrad calls attention to the fact--in which he was, of
course, mistaken--that this is the first translation of the original
_Macbeth_ into Dano-Norwegian or into Danish. It is a work of undoubted
merit, though here and there a little stiff and hazy, "but Shakespeare
is not easily clarified." The humorous passages, thinks the reviewer,
are a severe test of a translator's powers and this test Hauge has met
with conspicuous success. Also he has aquitted himself well in the
difficult matter of putting Shakespeare's meter into Norwegian.

The last two pages are taken up with a detailed study of single
passages. The only serious error Monrad has noticed is the following: In
Act II, 3 one of the murderers calls out "A light! A light!" Regarding
this passage Monrad remarks: "It is certainly a mistake to have the
second murderer call out, "Bring a light here!" (Lys hid!) The murderer
does not demand a light, but he detects a shimmer from Banquo's
approaching torch." The rest of the section is devoted to mere trifles.

This is the sort of review which we should expect from an intelligent
and well-informed man. Monrad was not a scholar, nor even a man of
delicate and penetrating reactions. But he had sound sense and perfect
self-assurance, which made him something of a Samuel Johnson in the
little provincial Kristiania of his day. At any rate, he was the only
one who took the trouble to review Hauge's translation, and even he was
doubtless led to the task because of his personal interest in the
translator. If we may judge from the stir it made in periodical
literature, _Macbeth_ fell dead from the press.

The tercentenary of Shakespeare's birth (1864) aroused a certain
interest in Norway, and little notes and articles are not infrequent
in the newspapers and periodicals about that time. _Illustreret
Nyhedsblad_[4] has a short, popular article on Stratford-on-Avon. It
contains the usual Shakespeare apocrypha--the Sir Thomas Lucy story, the
story of the apple tree under which Shakespeare and his companions slept
off the effects of too much Bedford ale--and all the rest of it. It
makes no pretense of being anything but an interesting hodge-podge
for popular consumption. The next year, 1864, the same periodical
published[5] on the traditional day of Shakespeare's birth a rather long
and suggestive article on the English drama before Shakespeare. If this
article had been original, it might have had a certain significance,
but, unfortunately, it is taken from the German of Bodenstedt. The
only significant thing about it is the line following the title: "Til
Erindring paa Trehundredsaarsdagen efter Shakespeares Födsel, d. 23
April, 1563."

    [4. Vol. XII (1863), pp. 199 ff.]

    [5. Vol. XIII (1864), pp. 65 ff.]

More interesting than this, however, are the verses written by the then
highly esteemed poet, Andreas Munch, and published in his own magazine,
_For Hjemmet_,[6] in April, 1864. Munch rarely rises above mediocrity
and his tribute to the bard of Avon is the very essence of it.
He begins:

  I disse Dage gaar et vældigt Navn
  Fra Mund til Mund, fra Kyst til Kyst rundt Jorden--
  Det straaler festligt over fjernest Havn,
  Og klinger selv igjennem Krigens Torden,
  Det slutter alle Folk i Aandens Favn,
  Og er et Eenheds Tegn i Striden vorden--
  I Stjerneskrift det staaer paa Tidens Bue,
  Og leder Slægterne med Hjertelue.

    [6. Vol. V, p. 572.]

and, after four more stanzas, he concludes:

  Hos os har ingen ydre Fest betegnet
  Vort Folks Tribut til denne store Mand.
  Er vi af Hav og Fjelde saa omhegnet,
  At ei hans Straaler trænge til os kan?
  Nei,--Nordisk var hans Aand og netop egnet
  Til at opfattes af vort Norden-Land,
  Og mer maaske end selv vi tro og tænke,
  Har Shakespeare brudt for os en fremmed Lænke.

One has a feeling that Munch awoke one morning, discovered from his
calendar that Shakespeare's birthday was approaching, and ground out
this poem to fill space in _Hjemmet_. But his intentions are good. No
one can quarrel with the content. And when all is said, he probably
expressed, with a fair degree of accuracy, the feeling of his time.
It remains but to note a detail or two. First, that the poet, even in
dealing with Shakespeare, found it necessary to draw upon the prevailing
"Skandinavisme" and label Shakespeare "Nordisk"; second, the accidental
truth of the closing couplet. If we could interpret this as referring
to Wergeland, who _did_ break the chains of foreign bondage, and gave
Norway a place in the literature of the world, we should have the first
reference to an interesting fact in Norwegian literary history. But
doubtless we have no right to credit Munch with any such acumen. The
couplet was put into the poem merely because it sounded well.

More important than this effusion of bad verse from the poet of fashion
was a little article which Paul Botten Hansen wrote in _Illustreret
Nyhedsblad_[7] in 1865. Botten Hansen had a fine literary appreciation
and a profound knowledge of books. The effort, therefore, to give
Denmark and Norway a complete translation of Shakespeare was sure to
meet with his sympathy. In 1861 Lembcke began his revision of Foersom's
work, and, although it must have come up to Norway from Copenhagen
almost immediately, no allusion to it is found in periodical literature
till Botten Hansen wrote his review of Part (Hefte) XI. This part
contains _King John_. The reviewer, however, does not enter upon any
criticism of the play or of the translation; he gives merely a short
account of Shakespearean translation in the two countries before
Lembcke. Apparently the notice is written without special research, for
it is far from complete, but it gives, at any rate, the best outline of
the subject which we have had up to the present. Save for a few lines of
praise for Foersom and a word for Hauge, "who gave the first accurate
translation of this masterpiece (_Macbeth_) of which Dano-Norwegian
literature can boast before 1861," the review is simply a loosely
connected string of titles. Toward the close Botten Hansen writes:
"When to these plays (the standard Danish translations) we add (certain
others, which are given), we believe that we have enumerated all the
Danish translations of Shakespeare." This investigation has shown,
however, that there are serious gaps in the list. Botten Hansen calls
Foersom's the first Danish translation of Shakespeare. It is curious
that he should have overlooked Johannes Boye's _Hamlet_ of 1777, or
Rosenfeldt's translation of six plays (1790-1792). It is less strange
that he did not know Sander and Rahbek's translation of the unaltered
_Macbeth_ of 1801--which preceded Hauge by half a century--for this was
buried in Sander's lectures. Nor is he greatly to be blamed for his
ignorance of the numerous Shakespearean fragments which the student may
find tucked away in Danish reviews, from M.C. Brun's _Svada_ (1796) and
on. Botten Hansen took his task very lightly. If he had read Foersom's
notes to his translation he would have found a clue of interest to him
as a Norwegian. For Foersom specifically refers to a translation of a
scene from _Julius Caesar_ in _Trondhjems Allehaande_.

    [7. Vol. XIV, p. 96.]

Lembcke's revision, which is the occasion of the article, is greeted
with approval and encouragement. There is no need for Norwegians to go
about preparing an independent translation. Quite the contrary. The
article closes: "Whether or not Lembcke has the strength and endurance
for such a gigantic task, time alone will tell. At any rate, it is the
duty of the public to encourage the undertaking and make possible its

We come now to the most interesting chapter in the history of
Shakespeare in Norway. This is a performance of _A Midsummer Night's
Dream_ under the direction of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson at Christiania
Theater, April 17, 1865. The story belongs rather to the history of
Shakespeare on the Norwegian stage, but the documents of the affair are
contributions to Shakespearean criticism and must, accordingly, be
discussed here. Bjørnson's fiery reply to his critics of April 28
is especially valuable as an analysis of his own attitude toward

Bjørnson became director of Christiania Theater in January, 1865, and
the first important performance under his direction was _A Midsummer
Night's Dream_ (Skjärsommernatsdrömmen) in Oehlenschläger's translation,
with music by Mendelssohn.[8] Bjørnson had strained the resources
of the theater to the utmost to give the performance distinction.
But the success was doubtful. _Aftenposten_ found it tiresome, and
_Morgenbladet_, in two long articles, tore it to shreds.[9] It is
worth while to review the controversy in some detail.

    [8. Blanc. _Christianias Theaters Historie_, p. 196.]

    [9. April 26-27, 1865.]

The reviewer begins by saying that the play is so well known that it
is needless to give an account of it. "But what is the meaning," he
exclaims, "of this bold and poetic mixture of clowns and fairies, of
mythology, and superstition, of high and low, of the earthly and
the supernatural? And the scene is neither Athens nor Greece, but
Shakespeare's own England; it is his own time and his own spirit." We
are transported to an English grove in early summer with birds, flowers,
soft breezes, and cooling shadows. What wonder that a man coming in from
the hunt or the society of men should fill such a place with fairies and
lovely ladies and people it with sighs, and passions, and stories? And
all this has been brought together by a poet's fine feeling. This it is
which separates the play from so many others of its kind now so common
and often so well presented. Here a master's spirit pervades all, unites
all in lovely romance. Other plays are mere displays of scenery and
costume by comparison. Even the sport of the clowns throws the whole
into stronger relief.

Now, how should such a play be given? Obviously, by actors of the first
order and with costumes and scenery the most splendid. This goes without
saying, for the play is intended quite as much to be seen as to be
heard. To do it justice, the performance must bring out some of the
splendor and the fantasy with which it was conceived. As we read
_A Midsummer Night's Dream_ it is easy to imagine the glorious
succession of splendid scenes, but on the stage the characters become
flesh and blood with fixed limitations, and the illusion is easily lost
unless every agency is used to carry it out. Hence the need of lights,
of rich costumes, splendid backgrounds, music, rhythm.

The play opens in an apparently uninhabited wood. Suddenly all comes
to life--gay, full, romantic life. This is the scene to which we are
transported. "It is a grave question," continues the reviewer, "if it is
possible for the average audience to attain the full illusion which the
play demands, and with which, in reading, we have no difficulty. One
thing is certain, the audience was under no illusion. Some, those who do
not pretend to learning or taste, wondered what it was all about. Only
when the lion moved his tail, or the ass wriggled his ears were they at
all interested. Others were frankly amused from first to last, no less
at Hermia's and Helen's quarrel than at the antics of the clowns. Still
others, the cultivated minority, were simply indifferent."

The truth is that the performance was stiff and cold. Not for an instant
did it suggest the full and passionate life which is the theme and the
background of the play. Nor is this strange. _A Midsummer Night's Dream_
is plainly beyond the powers of our theatre. Individual scenes were well
done, but the whole was a cheerless piece of business.

The next day the same writer continues his analysis. He points out that
the secret of the play is the curious interweaving of the real world
with the supernatural. Forget this but for a moment, and the piece
becomes an impossible monstrosity without motivation or meaning.
Shakespeare preserves this unity in duality. The two worlds seem to meet
and fuse, each giving something of itself to the other. But this unity
was absent from the performance. The actors did not even know their
lines, and thus the spell was broken. The verse must flow from the lips
in a limpid stream, especially in a fairy play; the words must never
seem a burden. But even this elementary rule was ignored in our
performance. And the ballet of the fairies was so bad that it might
better have been omitted. Puck should not have been given by a woman,
but by a boy as he was in Shakespeare's day. Only the clown scenes
were unqualifiedly good, "as we might expect," concludes the reviewer

The article closes with a parting shot at the costuming and the scenery.
Not a little of it was inherited from "Orpheus in the Lower World." Are
we so poor as that? Better wait, and for the present, give something
which demands less of the theatre. The critic grants that the
presentation may prove profitable but, on the whole, Bjørnson must
feel that he has assisted at the mutilation of a master.

Bjørnson did not permit this attack to go unchallenged. He was not the
man to suffer in silence, and in this case he could not be silent. His
directorate was an experiment, and there were those in Christiania
who were determined to make it unsuccessful. It was his duty to set
malicious criticism right. He did so in _Aftenbladet_[10] in an article
which not only answered a bit of ephemeral criticism but which remains
to this day an almost perfect example of Bjørnson's polemical
prose--fresh, vigorous, genuinely eloquent, with a marvelous fusing
of power and fancy.

    [10. April 28. Reprinted in Bjørnson's _Taler og Skrifter_.
    Udgivet af C. Collin og H. Eitrem. Kristiania. 1912. Vol. I,
    pp. 263-270.]

He begins with an analysis of the play: The play is called a dream. But
wherein lies the dream? 'Why,' we are told, 'in the fact that fairies
sport, that honest citizens, with and without asses' heads, put on a
comedy, that lovers pursue each other in the moonlight.' But where is
the law in all this? If the play is without law (Lov = organic unity),
it is without validity.

But it does have artistic validity. The dream is more than a fantasy.
The same experiences come to all of us. "The play takes place, now in
your life, now in mine. A young man happily engaged or happily married
dreams one night that this is all a delusion. He must be engaged to, he
must marry another. The image of the 'chosen one' hovers before him, but
he can not quite visualize it, and he marries with a bad conscience.
Then he awakens and thanks God that it is all a bad dream (Lysander). Or
a youth is tired of her whom he adored for a time. He even begins to
flirt with another. And then one fine night he dreams that he worships
the very woman he loathes, that he implores her, weeps for her, fights
for her (Demetrius). Or a young girl, or a young wife, who loves and is
loved dreams, that her beloved is fleeing from her. When she follows him
with tears and petitions, he lifts his hand against her. She pursues
him, calls to him to stop, but she cannot reach him. She feels all the
agony of death till she falls back in a calm, dreamless sleep. Or she
dreams that the lover she cannot get comes to her in a wood and tells
her that he really does love her, that her eyes are lovelier than the
stars, her hands whiter than the snow on Taurus. But other visions come,
more confusing. Another, whom she has never given a thought, comes and
tells her the same story. His protestations are even more glowing--and
it all turns to contention and sorrow, idle pursuit and strife, till her
powers fail (Helena).

"This is the dream chain of the lovers. The poet causes the man to dream
that he is unfaithful, or that he is enamored of one whom he does not
love. And he makes the woman dream that she is deserted or that she is
happy with one whom she cannot get. And together these dreams tell us:
watch your thoughts, watch your passions, you, walking in perfect
confidence at the side of your beloved. They (the thoughts and passions)
may bring forth a flower called 'love in idleness'--a flower which
changes before you are aware of it. The dream gives us reality reversed,
but reversed in such a way that there is always the possibility that it
may, in an unguarded moment, take veritable shape.

"And this dream of the lovers is given a paradoxical counterpart. A
respectable, fat citizen dreams one night that he is to experience the
great triumph of his life. He is to be presented before the duke's
throne as the greatest of heroes. He dreams that he cannot get dressed,
that he cannot get his head attended to, because, as a matter of fact,
his head is not his own excellent head, but the head of an ass with long
ears, a snout, and hair that itches. 'This is exactly like a fairy tale
of my youth,' he dreams. And indeed, it is a dream! The mountain opens,
the captive princess comes forth and leads him in, and he rests his head
in her lap all strewn with blossoms. The lovely trolls come and scratch
his head and music sounds from the rocks. It is characteristic of
Shakespeare that the lovers do not dream fairy tales of their childhood.
Higher culture has given them deeper passions, more intense personal
relations; in dreams they but continue the life of waking. But the good
weaver who lives thoroughly content in his own self-satisfaction and in
the esteem of his neighbors, who has never reflected upon anything that
has happened to him, but has received each day's blessings as they have
come--this man sees, the moment he lays his head on the pillow, the
fairies and the fairy queen. To him the whole circle of childhood
fantasy reveals itself; nothing is changed, nothing but this absurd
ass's head which he wears, and this curious longing for dry, sweet hay.

"This is the dream and the action of the play. Superficially, all this
magic is set in motion by the fairies; Theseus and his train, with whom
come hunting horn and hunting talk and processional--are, in reality,
the incarnation of the festival. And the comedy at the close is added by
way of counterpiece to the light, delicate fancies of the dream. It is
the thoughts we have thought, the painfully-wrought products of the
waking mind, given in a sparkle of mocking laughter against the
background of nightly visions. See the play over and over again. Do
not study it with Bottom's ass's head, and do not be so blasé that you
reject the performance because it does not command the latest electrical

Bjørnson then proceeds to discuss the staging. He admits by implication
that the machinery and the properties are not so elaborate as they
sometimes are in England, but points out that the equipment of
Christiania Theater is fully up to that which, until a short time
before, was considered entirely adequate in the great cities of Europe.
And is machinery so important? The cutting of the play used at this
performance was originally made by Tieck for the court theater at
Potsdam. From Germany it was brought to Stockholm, and later to
Christiania. "The spirit of Tieck pervades this adaptation. It is easy
and natural. The spoken word has abundant opportunity to make itself
felt, and is neither overwhelmed by theater tricks nor set aside by
machinery. Tieck, who understood stage machinery perfectly, gave it free
play where, as in modern operas, machinery is everything. The same is
true of Mendelssohn. His music yields reverently to the spoken word. It
merely accompanies the play like a new fairy who strews a strain or two
across the stage before his companions enter, and lends them wings by
which they may again disappear. Only when the words and the characters
who utter them have gone, does the music brood over the forest like a
mist of reminiscence, in which our imagination may once more synthesize
the picture of what has gone before."

Tieck's adaptation is still the standard one. Englishmen often stage
Shakespeare's romantic plays more elaborately. They even show us a ship
at sea in _The Tempest_. But Shakespeare has fled England; they are left
with their properties, out of which the spirit of Shakespeare will not
rise. It is significant that the most distinguished dramaturg of
Germany, Dingelstedt, planned a few years before to go to London with
some of the best actors in Germany to teach Englishmen how to play
Shakespeare once more.

Bjørnson closes this general discussion of scenery and properties
with a word about the supreme importance of imagination to the playgoer.
"I cannot refrain from saying that the imagination that delights in the
familiar is stronger and healthier than that which loses itself in
longings for the impossible. To visualize on the basis of a few and
simple suggestions--that is to possess imagination; to allow the images
to dissolve and dissipate--that is to have no imagination at all. Every
allusion has a definite relation to the familiar, and if our playgoers
cannot, after all that has been given here for years, feel the least
illusion in the presence of the properties in _A Midsummer Night's
Dream_, then it simply means that bad critics have broken the spell."
Why should Norwegians require an elaborate wood-scene to be transported
to the living woods? A boulevardier of Paris, indeed, might have need of
it, but not a Norwegian with the great forests at his very doors. And
what real illusion is there in a waterfall tumbling over a painted
curtain, or a ship tossing about on rollers? Does not such apparatus
rather destroy the illusion? "The new inventions of stage mechanicians
are far from being under such perfect control that they do not often
ruin art. We are in a period of transition. Why should we here, who are
obliged to wait a long time for what is admittedly satisfactory, commit
all the blunders which mark the way to acknowledged perfection?"

It would probably be difficult to find definite and tangible evidence
of Shakespeare's influence in Bjørnson's work, and we are, therefore,
doubly glad to have his own eloquent acknowledgement of his debt
to Shakespeare. The closing passus of Bjørnson's article deserves
quotation for this reason alone. Unfortunately I cannot convey its warm,
illuminating style: "Of all the poetry I have ever read, Shakespeare's
_A Midsummer Night's Dream_ has, unquestionably, had the greatest
influence upon me. It is his most delicate and most imaginative work,
appealing quite as much through its intellectual significance as through
its noble, humane spirit. I read it first in Eiksdal when I was writing
_Arne_, and I felt rebuked for the gloomy feelings under the spell of
which that book was written. But I took the lesson to heart: I felt
that I had in my soul something that could produce a play with a
little of the fancy and joy of _A Midsummer Night's Dream_--and I made
resolutions. But the conditions under which a worker in art lives in
Norway are hard, and all we say or promise avails nothing. But this I
know: I am closer to the ideal of this play now than then, I have a
fuller capacity for joy and a greater power to protect my joy and keep
it inviolate. And if, after all, I never succeed in writing such a play,
it means that circumstances have conquered, and that I have not achieved
what I have ever sought to achieve.

"And one longs to present a play which has been a guiding star to
oneself. I knew perfectly well that a public fresh from _Orpheus_ would
not at once respond, but I felt assured that response would come in
time. As soon, therefore, as I had become acclimated as director and
knew something of the resources of the theater, I made the venture. This
is not a play to be given toward the end; it is too valuable as a means
of gaining that which is to be the end--for the players and for the
audience. So far as the actors are concerned, our exertions have been
profitable. The play might doubtless be better presented--we shall
give it better next year--but, all in all, we are making progress.
You may call this naivete, poetic innocence, or obstinacy and
arrogance--whatever it is, this play is of great moment to me, for it
is the link which binds me to my public, it is my appeal to the public.
If the public does not care to be led whither this leads, then I am not
the proper guide. If people wish to get me out of the theater, they may
attack me here. Here I am vulnerable."

In _Morgenbladet_ for May 1st the reviewer made a sharp reply. He
insists again that the local theater is not equal to _A Midsummer
Night's Dream_. But it is not strange that Bjørnson will not admit his
own failure. His eloquent tribute to the play and all that it has meant
to him has, moreover, nothing to do with the question. All that he says
may be true, but certainly such facts ought to be the very thing to
deter him from giving Shakespeare into the hands of untrained actors.
For if Bjørnson feels that the play was adequately presented, then we
are at a loss to understand how he has been able to produce original
work of unquestionable merit. One is forced to believe that he is hiding
a failure behind his own name and fame. After all, concludes the writer,
the director has no right to make this a personal matter. Criticism
has no right to turn aside for injured feelings, and all Bjørnson's
declarations about the passions of the hour have nothing to do with
the case.

This ended the discussion. At this day, of course, one cannot pass
judgment, and there is no reason why we should. The two things which
stand out are Bjørnson's protest against spectacular productions of
Shakespeare's plays, and his ardent, almost passionate tribute to him
as the poet whose influence had been greatest in his life.

And then there is a long silence. Norwegian periodicals--there is not
to this day a book on Shakespeare by a Norwegian--contain not a single
contribution to Shakespearean criticism till 1880, when a church paper,
_Luthersk Ugeskrift_[11] published an article which proved beyond cavil
that Shakespeare is good and safe reading for Lutheran Christians.
The writer admits that Shakespeare probably had several irregular
love-affairs both before and after marriage, but as he grew older his
heart turned to the comforts of religion, and in his epitaph he commends
his soul to God, his body to the dust. Shakespeare's extreme objectivity
makes snap judgments unsafe. We cannot always be sure that his
characters voice his own thoughts and judgments, but, on the other hand,
we have no right to assume that they never do. The tragedies especially
afford a safe basis for judgment, for in them characterization is of the
greatest importance. No great character was ever created which did not
spring from the poet's own soul. In Shakespeare's characters sin, lust,
cruelty, are always punished; sympathy, love, kindness are everywhere
glorified. The writer illustrates his meaning with copious quotations.

    [11. Vol. VII, pp. 1-12.]

Apparently the good Lutheran who wrote this article felt troubled about
the splendor which Shakespeare throws about the Catholic Church. But
this is no evidence, he thinks, of any special sympathy for it. Many
Protestants have been attracted by the pomp and circumstance of the
Catholic Church, and they have been none the worse Protestants for that.
The writer had the good sense not to make Shakespeare a Lutheran but,
for the rest, the article is a typical example of the sort of criticism
that has made Shakespeare everything from a pious Catholic to a champion
of atheistic democracy. If, however, the readers of _Luthersk Ugeskrift_
were led to read Shakespeare after being assured that they might do so
safely, the article served a useful purpose.

Eight years later the distinguished litterateur and critic, Just Bing,
wrote in _Vidar_[12], one of the best periodicals that Norway has ever
had, a brief character study of Ophelia, which, though it contains
nothing original, stands considerably higher as literary criticism than
anything we have yet considered, with the sole exception of Bjørnson's
article in _Aftenbladet_, twenty-three years earlier.

    [12. 1880, pp. 61-71.]

Bing begins by defining two kinds of writers. First, those whose power
is their keen observation. They see things accurately and they secure
their effects by recording just what they see. Second, those writers
who do not merely see external phenomena with the external eye, but
who, through a miraculous intuition, go deeper into the soul of man.
Molière is the classical example of the first type; Shakespeare of the
second. To him a chance utterance reveals feelings, passions, whole
lives--though he probably never developed the consequences of a chance
remark to their logical conclusion without first applying to them close
and searching rational processes. But it is clear that if a critic is to
analyze a character of Shakespeare's, he must not be content merely to
observe. He must feel with it, live with it. He must do so with special
sympathy in the case of Ophelia.

The common characteristic of Shakespeare's women is their devotion to
the man of their choice and their confidence that this choice is wise
and happy. The tragedy of Ophelia lies in the fact that outward evidence
is constantly shocking that faith. Laertes, in his worldly-wise fashion,
first warns her. She cries out from a broken heart though she promises
to heed the warning. Then comes Polonius with his cunning wisdom. But
Ophelia's faith is still unshaken. She promises her father, however, to
be careful, and her caution, in turn, arouses the suspicion of Hamlet.
Even after his wild outburst against her he still loves her. He begs her
to believe in him and to remember him in her prayers. But suspicion goes
on. Ophelia is caught between devotion and duty, and the grim events
that crowd upon her plunge her to sweet, tragic death. Nothing could be
more revealing than our last glimpse of her. Shakespeare's intuitive
knowledge of the soul was sure. The determining fact of her life was her
love for Hamlet: it is significant that when we see her insane not a
mention of it crosses her lips.

Hamlet and Ophelia are the delicate victims of a tragic necessity. They
are undone because they lose confidence in those to whom they cling with
all the abandon of deep, spiritual souls. Hamlet is at last aroused to
desperation; Ophelia is helplessly crushed. She is the finest woman
of Shakespeare's imagination, and perhaps for that reason the most
difficult to understand and the one least often appreciated.

The next chapter in Norwegian Shakespeareana is a dull, unprofitable
one--a series of articles on the Baconian theory appearing irregularly
in the monthly magazine, _Kringsjaa_. The first article appeared in the
second volume (1894) and is merely a review of a strong pro-Bacon
outburst in the American _Arena_. It is not worth criticising. Similar
articles appeared in _Kringsjaa_ in 1895, the material this time being
taken from the _Deutsche Revue_. It is the old ghost, the cipher in the
first folio, though not Ignatius Donnelly's cryptogram. Finally, in
1898, a new editor, Chr. Brinckmann, printed[13] a crushing reply to all
these cryptogram fantasies. And that is all that was ever published in
Norway on a foolish controversy.

    [13. _Kringsjaa_. Vol. XII, pp. 777 ff. The article upon which
    this reply was based was from the _Quarterly Review_.]

It is a relief to turn from puerilities of this sort to Theodor
Caspari's article in _For Kirke og Kultur_ (1895)[14]--_Grunddrag ved
den Shakespeareske Digtning, i særlig Jevnförelse med Ibsens senere

    [14. Vol. I, pp. 38 ff.]

This article must be read with caution, partly because its analysis
of the Elizabethan age is conventional, and therefore superficial, and
partly because it represents a direction of thought which eyed the later
work of Ibsen and Bjørnson with distrust. These men had rejected the
faith of their fathers, and the books that came from them were signs of
the apostasy. But _For Kirke og Kultur_ has been marked from its first
number by ability, conspicuous fairness, and a large catholicity, which
give it an honorable place among church journals. And not even a
fanatical admirer of Ibsen will deny that there is more than a grain of
truth in the indictment which the writer of this article brings against

The central idea is the large, general objectivity of Shakespeare's
plays as contrasted with the narrow, selfish subjectivity of Ibsen's.
The difference bottoms in the difference between the age of Elizabeth
and our own. Those were days of full, pulsing, untrammeled life. Men
lived big, physical lives. They had few scruples and no nerves.
Full-blooded passions, not petty problems of pathological psychology,
were the things that interested poets and dramatists. They saw life
fully and they saw it whole. So with Shakespeare. His characters are
big, well-rounded men; they are not laboratory specimens. They live in
the real Elizabethan world, not in the hothouse of the poet's brain. It
is of no consequence that violence is done to "local color." Shakespeare
beheld all the world and all ages through the lens of his own time and
country, but because the men he saw were actual, living beings, the
characters he gives us, be they mythological figures, Romans, Greeks,
Italians, or Englishmen, have universal validity. He went to Italy for
his greatest love-story. That gave him the right atmosphere. It is
significant that Ibsen once thought it necessary to seek a suggestive
background for one of his greatest characters. He went to Finmarken for
Rebecca West.

Shakespeare's characters speak in loud, emphatic tones and they give
utterance to clear, emphatic thoughts. There is no "twilight zone" in
their thinking. Ibsen's men and women, like the children at Rosmersholm,
never speak aloud; they merely whimper or they whisper the polite
innuendos of the drawing room. The difference lies largely in the
difference of the age. But Ibsen is more decadent than his age. There
are great ideas in our time too, but Ibsen does not see them. He sees
only the "thought." Contrast with this Shakespeare's colossal scale.
He is "loud-voiced" but he is also "many-voiced." Ibsen speaks in a
salon voice and always in one key. And the remarkable thing is that
Shakespeare, in spite of his complicated plots, is always clear. The
main lines of the action stand out boldly. There is always speed and
movement--a speed and movement directly caused by powerful feelings. He
makes his readers think on a bigger scale than does Ibsen. His passions
are sounder because they are larger and more expansive.

Shakespeare is the dramatist of our average life; Ibsen, the poet of
the rare exception. To Shakespeare's problems there is always an answer;
underneath his storms there is peace, not merely filth and doubt. There
is even a sense of a greater power--calm and immovable as history
itself. Ibsen's plays are nervous, hectic, and unbelieving. In the words
of Rosmer: "Since there is no judge over us, we must hold a judgment day
for ourselves." Contrast this with Hamlet's soliloquy. And, finally,
one feels sure in Shakespeare that the play means something. It has a
beginning and an end. "What shall we say of plays like Ibsen's, in which
Act I and Act II give no clue to Act III, and where both question and
answer are hurled at us in the same speech?"

In the same year, 1895, Georg Brandes published in _Samtiden_,[15] at
that time issued in Bergen, two articles on _Shakespeare's Work in his
Period of Gloom_ (Shakespeare i hans Digtnings mørke Periode) which
embody in compact form that thesis since elaborated in his big work.
Shakespeare's tragedies were the outcome of a deep pessimism that had
grown for years and culminated when he was about forty. He was tired of
the vice, the hollowness, the ungratefulness, of life. The immediate
cause must remain unknown, but the fact of his melancholy seems clear
enough. His comedy days were over and he began to portray a side of life
which he had hitherto kept hidden. _Julius Caesar_ marks the transition.
In Brutus we are reminded that high-mindedness in the presence of a
practical situation often fails, and that practical mistakes are often
as fatal as moral ones. From Brutus, Shakespeare came to Hamlet, a
character in transition from fine youth, full of illusions, to a manhood
whose faith is broken by the hard facts of the world. This is distinctly
autobiographical. _Hamlet_ and Sonnet 66 are of one piece. Shakespeare
was disillusioned. Add to this his struggle against his enemy,
Puritanism, and a growing conviction that the miseries of life bottom
in ignorance, and the reason for his growing pessimism becomes clear.
From Hamlet, whom the world crushes, to Macbeth, who faces it with its
own weapons, yet is haunted and terrified by what he does, the step is
easy. He knew Macbeth as he knew Hamlet.

    [15. Vol. VI, pp. 49 ff.]

The scheming Iago, too, he must have known, for he has portrayed
him with matchless art. "But _Othello_ was a mere monograph; _Lear_
is a cosmic picture. Shakespeare turns from _Othello_ to _Lear_ in
consequence of the necessity which the poet feels to supplement and
round out his beginning." _Othello_ is noble chamber music; _Lear_ is a
symphony played by a gigantic orchestra. It is the noblest of all the
tragedies, for in it are all the storm and tumult of life, all that
was struggling and raging in his own soul. We may feel sure that
the ingratitude he had met with is reflected in Goneril and Regan.
Undoubtedly, in the same way, the poet had met the lovely Cleopatra
and knew what it was to be ensnared by her.

Brandes, as has often been pointed out, did not invent this theory
of Shakespeare's psychology but he elaborated it with a skill and
persuasiveness which carried the uncritical away.

In his second article Brandes continues his analysis of Shakespeare's
pessimism. In the period of the great tragedies there can be no doubt
that Shakespeare was profoundly pessimistic. There was abundant reason
for it. The age of Elizabeth was an age of glorious sacrifices, but it
was also an age of shameless hypocrisy, of cruel and unjust punishments,
of downright oppression. Even the casual observer might well grow sick
at heart. A nature so finely balanced as Shakespeare's suffered a
thousandfold. Hence this contempt for life which showed only corruption
and injustice. Cressida and Cleopatra are sick with sin and evil; the
men are mere fools and brawlers.

There is, moreover, a feeling that he is being set aside for younger
men. We find clear expression of this in _All's Well That Ends Well_,
in _Troilus and Cressida_. There is, too, in _Troilus and Cressida_
a speech which shows the transition to the mood of _Coriolanus_, an
aristocratic contempt for the mass of mankind. This is the famous speech
in which Ulysses explains the necessity of social distinctions. Note
in this connection Casca's contemptuous reference to the plebeians,
Cleopatra's fear of being shown to the mob. Out of this feeling grew
_Coriolanus_. The great patrician lives on the heights, and will not
hear of bending to the crowd. The contempt of Coriolanus grew to the
storming rage of Timon. When Coriolanus meets with ingratitude, he takes
up arms; Timon is too supremely indifferent to do even this.

Thus Shakespeare's pessimism grew from grief over the power of evil
(Othello) and misery over life's sorrows, to bitter hatred (Timon).
And when he had raged to the uttermost, something of the resignation
of old age came to him. We have the evidence of this in his last works.
Perhaps, as in the case of his own heroes, a woman saved him. Brandes
feels that the evolution of Shakespeare as a dramatist is to be traced
in his women. We have first the domineering scold, reminding him
possibly of his own domestic relations (Lady Macbeth); second, the
witty, handsome women (Portia, Rosalind); third, the simple, naive women
(Ophelia, Desdemona); fourth, the frankly sensuous women (Cleopatra,
Cressida); and, finally, the young woman viewed with all an old man's
joy (Miranda). Again his genius exercises his spell. Then, like
Prospero, he casts his magician's staff into the sea.

In 1896 Brandes published his great work on Shakespeare. It arrested
attention immediately in every country of the world. Never had a book so
fascinating, so brilliant, so wonderfully suggestive, been written on
Shakespeare. The literati were captivated. But alas, scholars were not.
They admitted that Brandes had written an interesting book, that he had
accumulated immense stores of information and given to these sapless
materials a new life and a new attractiveness. But they pointed out that
not only did his work contain gross positive errors, but it consisted,
from first to last, of a tissue of speculations which, however
ingenious, had no foundation in fact and no place in cool-headed
criticism.[16] Theodor Bierfreund, one of the most brilliant Shakespeare
scholars in Denmark, almost immediately attacked Brandes in a long
article in the Norwegian periodical _Samtiden_.[17]

    [16. Cf. Vilhelm Møller in _Nordisk Tidskrift för Vetenskap, Konst
    och Industri_. 1896, pp. 501-519.]

    [17. _Samtiden_, 1896. (VII), pp. 382 ff.]

He acknowledges the great merits of the work. It is an enormously rich
compilation of Shakespeare material gathered from the four corners of
the earth and illuminated by the genius of a great writer. He gives the
fullest recognition to Brandes' miraculous skill in analyzing characters
and making them live before our eyes. But he warns us that Brandes is no
critical student of source materials, and that we must be on our guard
in accepting his conclusions. It is not so certain that the sonnets mean
all that Brandes would have them mean, and it is certain that we must
be cautious in inferring too much from _Troilus and Cressida_ and
_Pericles_ for, in the opinion of the reviewer, Shakespeare probably had
little or nothing to do with them. He then sketches briefly his theory
that these plays cannot be Shakespeare's, a theory which he later
elaborated in his admirably written monograph, _Shakespeare og hans
Kunst_.[18] This, however, belongs to the study of Shakespearean
criticism in Denmark.

    [18. Copenhagen, 1898.]

So far as I have been able to find, Bierfreund's review was the only one
published in Norway immediately after the publication of Brandes' work,
but in 1899, S. Brettville Jensen took up the matter again in _For Kirke
og Kultur_[19] and, in 1901, Christen Collin vigorously assailed in
_Samtiden_ that elaborate and fanciful theory of the sonnets which plays
so great a part in Brandes' study of Shakespeare.

    [19. Vol. VI (1899), pp. 400 ff.]

Brettville Jensen praises Brandes highly. He is always interesting, in
harmony with his age, and in rapport with his reader. "But his book is a
fantasy palace, supported by columns as lovely as they are hollow and
insecure, and hovering in rainbow mists between earth and sky." Brandes
has rare skill in presenting hypotheses as facts. He has attempted to
reconstruct the life of Shakespeare from his works. Now this is a mode
of criticism which may yield valuable results, but clearly it must be
used with great care. Shakespeare knew the whole of life, but how he
came to know it is another matter. Brandes thinks he has found the
secret. Back of every play and every character there is a personal
experience. But this is rating genius altogether too cheap. One must
concede something to the imagination and the creative ability of the
poet. To relate everything in Shakespeare's dramas to the experiences
of Shakespeare the man, is both fanciful and uncritical.

The same objection naturally holds regarding the meaning of the sonnets
which Brandes has made his own. Here we must bear in mind the fact that
much of the language in the sonnets is purely conventional. We should
have a difficult time indeed determining just how much is biographical
and how much belongs to the stock in trade of Elizabethan sonneteers.
Brettville Jensen points out that if the sonnets are the expression of
grief at the loss of his beloved, it is a queer contradiction that
Sonnet 144, which voices his most poignant sorrow, should date from
1599, the year, according to Brandes, when Shakespeare's comedy period

It is doubtless true that the plays and even the sonnets mark great
periods in the life of the poet, but we may be sure that the relation
between experience and literary creation was not so literal as Brandes
would have us believe. The change from mood to mood, from play to play,
was gradual, and it never destroyed Shakespeare's poise and sanity. We
shall not judge Shakespeare rightly if we believe that personal feeling
rather than artistic truth shaped his work.

Two years later Collin, a critic of fine insight and appreciation, wrote
in _Samtiden_[20] an article on the sonnets of Shakespeare. He begins by
picturing Shakespeare's surprise if he could rise from his grave in the
little church at Stratford and look upon the pompous and rather naive
bust, and hear the strange tongues of the thousands of pilgrims at his
shrine. Even greater would be his surprise if he could examine the
ponderous tomes in the Shakespeare Memorial Library at Birmingham which
have been written to explain him and his work. And if any of these
volumes could interest him at all it would doubtless be those in which
ingenious critics have attempted to discover the poet in the plays and
the poems. Collin then gives a brief survey of modern Shakespearean
criticism--Furnivall, Dowden, Brandl, Boas, ten Brink, and, more
recently, Sidney, Lee, Brandes, and Bierfreund. An important object of
the study of these men has been to fix the chronology of the plays. They
seldom fully agree. Sidney Lee and the Danish critic, Bierfreund, do not
accept the usual theory that the eight tragedies from _Julius Caesar_ to
_Coriolanus_ reflect a period of gloom and pessimism. In their opinion
psychological criticism has, in this instance, proved a dismal failure.

    [20. Vol. XII, pp. 61 ff.]

The battle has raged with particular violence about the sonnets.
Most scholars assume that we have in them a direct presentation
(fremstilling) of a definite period in the life of the poet. And by
placing this period directly before the creation of _Hamlet_, Brandes
has succeeded in making the relations to the "dark lady" a crisis in
Shakespeare's life. The story, which, as Brandes tells it, has a
remarkable similarity to an ultra-modern naturalistic novel, becomes
even more piquant since Brandes knows the name of the lady, nay, even of
the faithless friend. All this information Brandes has, of course, taken
from Thomas Tyler's introduction to the Irving edition of the sonnets
(1890), but his passion for the familiar anecdote has led him to
embellish it with immense enthusiasm and circumstantiality.

The hypothesis, however, is essentially weak. Collin disagrees
absolutely with Lee that the sonnets are purely conventional, without
the slightest biographical value. Mr. Lee has weakened his case by
admitting that "key-sonnet" No. 144 is autobiographical. Now, if this
be true, then one must assume that the sonnets set forth Shakespeare's
relations to a real man and a real woman. But the most convincing
argument against the Herbert-Fitton theory lies in the chronology. It is
certain that the sonnet fashion was at its height immediately after the
publication of Sidney's sequence in 1591, and it seems equally certain
that it had fallen off by 1598. This chronology is rendered probable
by two facts about Shakespeare's work. First, Shakespeare employs the
sonnet in dialogue in _Two Gentlemen of Verona_ and in _Romeo and
Juliet_. These plays belong to the early nineties. Second, the moods
of the sonnets exactly correspond, on the one hand, to the exuberant
sensuality of _Venus and Adonis_, on the other, to the restraint of the

An even safer basis for determining the chronology of the sonnets Collin
finds in the group in which the poet laments his poverty and his outcast
state. If the sonnets are autobiographical--and Collin agrees with
Brandes that they are--then this group (26, 29, 30, 31, 37, 49, 66,
71-75, 99, 110-112, 116, 119, 120, 123, and 124) must refer to a time
when the poet was wretched, poor, and obscure. And in this case, the
sonnets cannot be placed at 1598-99, when Shakespeare was neither poor
nor despised, a time in which, according to Brandes, he wrote his gayest

It seems clear from all this that the sonnets cannot be placed so late
as 1598-1600. They do not fit the facts of Shakespeare's life at this
time. But they do fit the years from 1591 to 1594, and especially the
years of the plague, 1592-3, when the theaters were generally closed,
and Shakespeare no doubt had to battle for a mere existence. In 1594
Shakespeare's position became more secure. He gained the favor of
Southampton and dedicated the _Rape of Lucrece_ to him.

Collin develops at this point with a good deal of fullness his
theory that the motifs of the sonnets recur in _Venus and Adonis_
and _Lucrece_--in _Venus and Adonis_, a certain crass naturalism;
in _Lucrece_ a high and spiritual morality. In the sonnets the same
antithesis is found. Compare Sonnet 116--in praise of friendship--with
129, in which is pictured the tyranny and the treachery of sensual love.
These two forces, sensual love and platonic friendship, were mighty
cultural influences during Shakespeare's apprentice years and the young
poet shows plainly that he was moved by both.

If all this be true, then the Herbert-Fitton theory falls to the ground,
for in 1597 Herbert was only seventeen. But unquestionably the sonnets
are autobiographical. They reveal with a poignant power Shakespeare's
sympathy, his unique ability to enter into another personality, his
capacity of imaginative expansion to include the lives of others.
Compare the noble sonnet 112, which Collin translates:

  Din kjærlighed og medynk dækker til
  det ar, som sladderen paa min pande trykket.
  Lad andre tro og sige, hvad de vil,--
  du kjærlig mine feil med fortrin smykket.

  Du er mit verdensalt, og fra din mund
  jeg henter al min skam og al min ære.
  For andre er jeg død fra denne stund,
  og de for mig som skygger blot skal være.

  I avgrunds dyp jeg al bekymring kaster!
  for andres røst min høresans er sløv.
  Hvadenten de mig roser eller laster,
  jeg som en hugorm er og vorder døv.

  Saa helt du fylder ut min sjæl herinde,
  at hele verden synes at forsvinde.

At this point the article in _Samtiden_ closes. Collin promises to give
in a later number, a metrical translation of a number of significant
sonnets. The promised renderings, however, never appeared. Thirteen
years later, in 1914, the author, in a most interesting and illuminating
book, _Det Geniale Menneske_,[21] a study of "genius" and its relation
to civilization, reprinted his essay in _Samtiden_ and supplemented it
with three short chapters. In the first of these he endeavors to show
that in the sonnets Shakespeare gives expression to two distinct
tendencies of the Renaissance--the tendency toward a loose and
unregulated gratification of the senses, and the tendency toward an
elevated and platonic conception of friendship. Shakespeare sought in
both of these a compensation for his own disastrous love affair and
marriage. But the healing that either could give was at best transitory.
There remained to him as a poet of genius one resource. He could gratify
his own burning desire for a pure and unselfish love by living in his
mighty imagination the lives of his characters. "He who in his yearning
for the highest joys of love had been compelled to abandon hope, found
a joy mingled with pain, in giving of his life to lovers in whom the
longing of William Shakespeare lives for all time.

"He has loved and been loved. It was he whom Sylvia, Hermia, Titania,
Portia, Juliet, Beatrice, Rosalind, Viola, and Olivia loved,--and
Ophelia, Desdemona, Hermione and Miranda."

    [21. Chr. Collin, Christiania. 1914. H. Aschehoug & Co.]

In the second chapter Collin argues, as he had done in his essay on
_Hamlet_[22] that Shakespeare's great tragedies voice no pessimism, but
the stern purpose to strengthen himself and his contemporaries against
the evils and vices of Jacobean England--that period of moral and
intellectual disintegration which followed the intense life of the
Elizabethan age. Shakespeare battles against the ills of society as the
Greek dramatists had done, by showing sin and wickedness as destroyers
of life, and once this is done, by firing mankind to resistance against
the forces of ruin and decay. "To hold the mirror up to nature," that
men may see the devastation which evil and vice bring about in the
social body. And to do this he does not, like some modern writers, shun
moralizing. He warns against sensual excess in Adam's speech in _As You
Like It_, II, 3:

      Let me be your servant;
  Though I look old, yet am I strong and lusty;
  For in my youth I never did apply
  Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood;
  Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo
  The means of weakness and debility;

    [22. See pp. 71 ff. below.]

Or, compare the violent outburst against drunkenness in _Hamlet_ Act 1,
Sc. 4, and the stern warning against the same vice in _Othello_, where,
indeed, Cassius' weakness for strong drink is the immediate occasion of
the tragic complication. In like manner, Shakespeare moralizes against
lawless love in the _Merry Wives_, in _Troilus and Cressida_, in
_Hamlet_, in _Lear_.

On the other hand, Shakespeare never allows artistic scruples to
stand in the way of exalting simple, domestic virtues. Simple conjugal
fidelity is one of the glories of Hamlet's illustrious father and of the
stern, old Roman, Coriolanus; the young prince, Malcolm, is as chaste
and innocent as the young barbarians of whom Tacitus tells.

In a final section, Collin connects this view of Hamlet which he has
developed in his essay on _Hamlet_ and the Sonnets, with the theory of
human civilization which his book so suggestively advances.

The great tragedies from _Hamlet_ to _Timon of Athens_ are not
autobiographical in the sense that they are reflections of Shakespeare's
own concrete experience. They are not the record of a bitter personal
pessimism. In the years when they were written Shakespeare was contented
and prosperous. He restored the fortunes of his family and he was hailed
as a master of English without a peer. It is therefore a priori quite
unlikely that the tragic atmosphere of this period should go back
to purely personal disappointments. The case is more likely this:
Shakespeare had grown in power of sympathy with his fellows and his
time. He had become sensitive to the needs and sorrows of the society
about him. He could put himself in the place of those who are sick in
mind and heart. And in consequence of this he could preach to this
generation the simple gospel of right living and show to them the
psychic weakness whence comes all human sorrow.

And through this expansion of his ethical consciousness what had
he gained? Not merely a fine insight as in _Macbeth_, _Antony and
Cleopatra_, and _Coriolanus_, an insight which enables him to treat with
comprehending sympathy even great criminals and traitors, but a high
serenity and steady poise which enables him to write the romances of his
last years--_Cymbeline_, _A Winter's Tale_, and _The Tempest_. He had
come to feel that human life, after all, with its storms, is a little
thing, a dream and a fata morgana, which soon must give place to a
permanent reality:

      We are such stuff
  As dreams are made of, and our little life
  Is rounded with a sleep.

In 1904 Collin wrote in _Nordisk Tidskrift för Vetenskap, Konst och
Industri_[23] a most suggestive article on Hamlet. He again dismisses
the widely accepted theory of a period of gloom and increasing pessimism
as baseless. The long line of tragedies cannot be used to prove this.
They are the expression of a great poet's desire to strengthen mankind
in the battle of life.

    [23: This article is reprinted in _Det Geniale Menneske_ above
    referred to. It forms the second of a group of essays in which
    Collin analyzes the work of Shakespeare as the finest example of
    the true contribution of genius to the progress and culture of
    the race. Preceding the study of _Hamlet_ is a chapter called
    _The Shakespearean Controversy_, and following it is a study of
    Shakespeare the Man. This is in three parts, the first of which
    is a reprint of an article in _Samtiden_ (1901).

    In _Det Geniale Menneske_ Collin defines civilization as that
    higher state which the human race has attained by means of
    "psychic organs"--superior to the physical organs. The psychic
    organs have been created by the human intellect and they are
    controlled by the intellect. Had man been dependent upon the
    physical organs solely, he would have remained an animal. His
    psychic organs have enabled him to create instruments, tangible,
    such as tools and machines; intangible, such as works of art.
    These are psychic organs and with their aid man has become a
    civilized being.

    The psychic organs are the creation of the man of genius. To
    create such organs is his function. The characteristics, then,
    of the genius are an immense capacity for sympathy and an immense
    surplus of power; sympathy, that he may know the needs of mankind;
    power, that he may fashion those great organs of life by which the
    race may live and grow.

    In the various chapters of his book, Collin analyzes in an
    illuminating way the life and work of Wergeland, Ibsen, and
    Bjørnson as typical men of genius whose expansive sympathy gave
    them insight and understanding and whose indefatigable energy
    wrought in the light of their insight mighty psychic organs of
    cultural progress.

    He comes then to Shakespeare as the genius par excellence. The
    chapter on the _Shakespearean Controversy_ gives first a survey
    of the development of modern scientific literary criticism from
    Herder to Taine and Saint Beuve. He goes on to detail the
    application of this method to the plays and sonnets of
    Shakespeare. Furnivall, Spalding, and Brandes have attempted to
    trace the genesis and the chronology of the plays. They would have
    us believe that the series of tragedies--_Hamlet_, _Macbeth_,
    _Othello_, _Lear_, _Antony and Cleopatra_, _Troilus and Cressida_,
    _Coriolanus_, and _Timon_ are the records of an increasing
    bitterness and pessimism. Brandes and Frank Harris, following
    Thomas Tyler have, on the basis of the sonnets, constructed a
    fascinating, but quite fantastic romance.

    Vagaries such as these have caused some critics, such as Sidney
    Lee and Bierfreund, to declare that it is impossible on the basis
    of the plays to penetrate to Shakespeare the man. His work is
    too purely objective. Collin is not willing to admit this. He
    maintains that the scientific biographical method of criticism
    is fundamentally sound. But it must be rationally applied. The
    sequence which Brandes has set up is quite impossible. Goswin
    Kønig, in 1888, applying the metrical tests, fixed the order as
    follows: _Hamlet_, _Troilus and Cressida_, _Measure for Measure_,
    _Othello_, _Timon_, and _Lear_, and, in another group, _Macbeth_,
    _Antony and Cleopatra_, and _Coriolanus_. These results are
    confirmed by Bradley in his _Shakespearean Tragedy_.

    Collin accepts this chronology. A careful study of the plays in
    this order shows a striking community of ethical purpose between
    the plays of each group. In the plays of the first group, the poet
    assails with all his mighty wrath what to him seems the basest of
    all wickedness, treachery. It is characteristic of these plays
    that none of the villains attains the dignity of a great tragic
    hero. They are without a virtue to redeem their faults.
    Shakespeare's conception of the good and evil in these plays
    approaches a medieval dualism. In the plays of the second group
    the case is altered. There is no longer a crude dualism in the
    interpretation of life. Shakespeare has entered into the soul of
    Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, of Antony and Cleopatra, of Coriolanus,
    and he has found underneath all that is weak and sinful and
    diseased, a certain nobility and grandeur. He can feel with the
    regicides in Macbeth; he no longer exposes and scourges; he
    understands and sympathizes. The clouds of gloom and wrath have
    cleared away, and Shakespeare has achieved a serenity and a fine

    It follows, then, that the theory of a growing pessimism is
    untenable. We must seek a new line of evolution.]

We need dwell but little on Collin's sketch of the "Vorgeschichte"
of _Hamlet_, for it contributes nothing that is new. _Hamlet_ was a
characteristic "revenge tragedy" like the "Spanish Tragedy" and a whole
host of others which had grown up in England under the influence, direct
and indirect, of Seneca. He points out in a very illuminating way how
admirably the "tragedy of blood" fitted the times. Nothing is more
characteristic of the renaissance than an intense joy in living. But
exactly as the appetite for mere existence became keen, the tragedy of
death gained in power. The most passionate joy instinctively calls up
the most terrible sorrow. There is a sort of morbid caution here--a
feeling that in the moment of happiness it is well to harden oneself
against the terrible reaction to come. Conversely, the contemplation of
suffering intensifies the joys of the moment. At all events, in such a
time, emotions become stronger, colors are brighter, and contrasts are
more violent. The "tragedy of blood," therefore, was more than a learned
imitation. Its sound and fury met the need of men who lived and died

The primitive _Hamlet_ was such a play. Shakespeare took over, doubtless
with little change, both fable and characters, but he gave to both a new
spiritual content. Hamlet's revenge gained a new significance. It is no
longer a fight against the murderer of his father, but a battle against
"a world out of joint." No wonder that a simple duty of blood revenge
becomes a task beyond his powers. He sees the world as a mass of
faithlessness, and the weight of it crushes him and makes him sick at
heart. This is the tragedy of Hamlet--his will is paralyzed and, with
it, his passion for revenge. He fights a double battle, against his
uncle and against himself. The conviction that Shakespeare, and not his
predecessor, has given this turn to the tragedy is sustained by the
other plays of the same period, _Lear_ and _Timon of Athens_. They
exhibit three different stages of the same disease, a disease in which
man's natural love of fighting is turned against himself.

Collin denies that the tragedy of Hamlet is that of a contemplative soul
who is called upon to solve great practical problems. What right have we
to assume that Hamlet is a weak, excessively reflective nature? Hamlet
is strong and regal, capable of great, concrete attainments. But he can
do nothing except by violent and eccentric starts; his will is paralyzed
by a fatal sickness. He suffers from a disease not so uncommon in modern
literature--the tendency to see things in the darkest light. Is it far
from the pessimism of Hamlet to the pessimism of Schopenhauer and
Tolstoi? Great souls like Byron and Heine and Ibsen have seen life as
Hamlet saw it, and they have struggled as he did, "like wounded warriors
against the miseries of the times."

But from this we must not assume that Shakespeare himself was
pessimistic. To him Hamlet's state of mind was pathological. One might
as well say that he was a murderer because he wrote _Macbeth_, a
misogynist because he created characters like Isabella and Ophelia, a
wife murderer because he wrote _Othello_, or a suicide because he wrote
_Timon of Athens_ as to say that he was a pessimist because he wrote
_Hamlet_--the tragedy of an irresolute avenger. This interpretation
is contradicted by the very play itself. "At Hamlet's side is the
thoroughly healthy Horatio, almost a standard by which his abnormality
may be measured. At Lear's side stand Cordelia and Kent, faithful
and sound to the core. If the hater of mankind, Timon, had written
a play about a rich man who was betrayed by his friends, he would
unquestionably have portrayed even the servants as scoundrels. But
Shakespeare never presented his characters as all black. Pathological
states of mind are not presented as normal."

Collin admits, nevertheless, that there may be something
autobiographical in the great tragedies. Undoubtedly Shakespeare felt
that there was an iron discipline in beholding a great tragedy. To live
it over in the soul tempered it, gave it firmness and resolution, and it
is not impossible that the sympathetic, high-strung Shakespeare needed
just such discipline. But we must not forget the element of play.
All art is, in a sense, a game with images and feelings and human
utterances. "In all this century-old discussion about the subtlety of
Hamlet's character critics have forgotten that a piece of literature is,
first of all, a festive sport with clear pictures, finely organized
emotions, and eloquent words uttered in moments of deep feeling." The
poet who remembers this will use his work to drive from the earth
something of its gloom and melancholy. He will strengthen himself
that he may strengthen others.

I have tried to give an adequate synopsis of Collin's article but, in
addition to the difficulties of translating the language, there are the
difficulties, infinitely greater, of putting into definite words all
that the Norwegian hints at and suggests. It is not high praise to say
that Collin has written the most notable piece of Shakespeare criticism
in Norway; indeed, nothing better has been written either in Norway or

The study of Shakespeare in Norway was not, as the foregoing shows,
extensive or profound, but there were many Norwegian scholars who had
at least considerable information about things Shakespearean. No great
piece of research is to be recorded, but the stimulating criticism of
Caspari, Collin, Just Bing, and Bjørnson is worth reading to this day.

The same comment may be made on two other contributions--Wiesener's
_Almindelig Indledning til Shakespeare_ (General Introduction to
Shakespeare), published as an introduction to his school edition of
_The Merchant of Venice_,[24] and Collin's _Indledning_ to his edition
of the same play. Both are frankly compilations, but both are admirably
organized, admirably written, and full of a personal enthusiasm which
gives the old, sometimes hackneyed facts a new interest.

    [24. _Shakespeares The Merchant of Venice. Med Anmærkninger og
    Indledning_. Udgivet af G. Wiesener. Kristiania, 1880.]

Wiesener's edition was published in 1880 in Christiania. The text is
that of the Cambridge edition with a few necessary cuttings to adapt it
for school reading. His introduction covers fifty-two closely printed
pages and gives, within these limits, an exceedingly detailed account of
the English drama, the Elizabethan stage, Shakespeare's life and work,
and a careful study of _The Merchant of Venice_ itself. The editor does
not pretend to originality; he has simply tried to bring together well
ascertained facts and to present them in the simplest, clearest fashion
possible. But the _Indledning_ is to-day, thirty-five years after it was
written, fully up to the standard of the best annotated school editions
in this country or in England. It is, of course, a little dry and
schematic; that could hardly be avoided in an attempt to compress such a
vast amount of information into such a small compass, but, for the most
part, the details are so clear and vivid that their mass rather
heightens than blurs the picture.

From the fact that nothing in this introduction is original, it is
hardly necessary to criticise it at length; all that may be demanded
is a short survey of the contents. The whole consists of two great
divisions, a general introduction to Shakespeare and a special
introduction to _The Merchant of Venice_. The first division is, in
turn, subdivided into seven heads: 1. _The Pre-Shakespearean Drama_.
2. _The Life of Shakespeare_. 3. _Shakespeare's Works--Order and
Chronology_. 4. _Shakespeare as a Dramatist_. 5. _Shakespeare's
Versification_. 6. _The Text of Shakespeare_. 7. _The Theatres of
Shakespeare's Time_. This introduction fills thirty-nine pages and
presents an exceedingly useful compendium for the student and the
general reader. The short introduction to the play itself discusses
briefly the texts, the sources, the characters, Shakespeare's relation
to his material and, finally, the meaning of the play. The last section
is, however, a translation from Taine and not Wiesener's at all.

The text itself is provided with elaborate notes of the usual text-book
sort. In addition to these there is, at the back, an admirable series
of notes on the language of Shakespeare. Wiesener explains in simple,
compact fashion some of the differences between Elizabethan and modern
English and traces these phenomena back to their origins in Anglo-Saxon
and Middle English. Inadequate as they are, these linguistic notes
cannot be too highly praised for the conviction of which they bear
evidence--that a complete knowledge of Shakespeare without a knowledge
of his language is impossible. To the student of that day these notes
must have been a revelation.

The second text edition of a Shakespearean play in Norway was Collin's
_The Merchant of Venice_.[25] His introduction covers much the same
ground as Wiesener's, but he offers no sketch of the Elizabethan drama,
of Shakespeare's life, or of his development as a dramatic artist. On
the other hand, his critical analysis of the play is fuller and, instead
of a mere summary, he gives an elaborate exposition of Shakespeare's

    [25. _The Merchant of Venice_. Med Indledning og Anmærkninger ved
    Chr. Collin. Kristiania. 1902.]

Collin is a critic of rare insight. Accordingly, although he says
nothing new in his discussion of the purport and content of the play,
he makes the old story live anew. He images Shakespeare in the midst of
his materials--how he found them, how he gave them life and being. The
section on Shakespeare's language is not so solid and scientific as
Wiesener's, but his discussion of Shakespeare's versification is
both longer and more valuable than Wiesener's fragmentary essay, and
Shakespeare's relation to his sources is treated much more suggestively.

He points out, first of all, that in Shakespeare's "classical" plays the
characters of high rank commonly use verse and those of low rank, prose.
This is, however, not a law. The real principle of the interchange of
prose and verse is in the emotions to be conveyed. Where these are
tense, passionate, exalted, they are communicated in verse; where they
are ordinary, commonplace, they are expressed in prose. This rule will
hold both for characters of high station and for the most humble. In Act
I, for example, Portia speaks in prose to her maid "obviously because
Shakespeare would lower the pitch and reduce the suspense. In the
following scene, the conversation between Shylock and Bassanio begins in
prose. But as soon as Antonio appears, Shylock's emotions are roused to
their highest pitch, and his speech turns naturally to verse--even
though he is alone and his speech an aside. A storm of passions sets
his mind and speech in rhythmic motion. And from that point on, the
conversations of Shylock, Bassanio, and Antonio are in verse. In short,
rhythmic speech when there is a transition to strong, more dramatic

The use of prose or verse depends, then, on the kind and depth of
feeling rather than on the characters. "In Act II Launcelot Gobbo and
his father are the only ones who employ prose. All the others speak in
verse--even the servant who tells of Bassanio's arrival. Not only that,
but he speaks in splendid verse even though he is merely announcing a

          "Yet have I not seen
  So likely an ambassador of love," etc.

Again, in _Lear_, the servant who protests against Cornwall's cruelty to
Gloster, nameless though he is, speaks in noble and stately lines:

        Hold your hand, my lord;
  I've served you ever since I was a child;
  But better service have I never done you
  Than now to bid you hold.

When the dramatic feeling warrants it, the humblest rise to the highest
poetry. The renaissance was an age of deeper, mightier feelings than
our own, and this intense life speaks in verse, for only thus can it
adequately express itself.

All this is romantic enough. But it is to be doubted if the men of the
renaissance were so different from us that they felt an instinctive need
of bursting into song. The causes of the efflorescence of Elizabethan
dramatic poetry are not, I think, to be sought in such subtleties as

Collin further insists that the only way to understand Shakespeare's
versification is to understand his situations and his characters. Rules
avail little. If we do not _feel_ the meaning of the music, we shall
never understand the meaning of the verse. Shakespeare's variations from
the normal blank verse are to be interpreted from this point of view.
Hence what the metricists call "irregularities" are not irregularities
at all. Collin examines the more important of these irregularities and
tries to account for them.

1. Short broken lines as in I, 1-5: _I am to learn._ Antonio completes
this line by a shrug of the shoulders or a gesture. "It would be
remarkable," concludes Collin, "if there were no interruptions or pauses
even though the characters speak in verse." Another example of this
breaking of the line for dramatic purposes is found in I, 3-123 where
Shylock suddenly stops after "say this" as if to draw breath and arrange
his features. (Sic!)

2. A verse may be abnormally long and contain six feet. This is
frequently accidental, but in _M of V_ it is used at least once
deliberately--in the oracular inscriptions on the caskets:

  "Who chooseth me shall gain what men desire."
  "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves."
  "Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he has."

Collin explains that putting these formulas into Alexandrines gives them
a stiffness and formality appropriate to their purpose.

3. Frequently one or two light syllables are added to the close of the

  Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster.


  Sleep when he wakes and creep into the jaundice.

Again, in III, 2-214 we have two unstressed syllables:

  But who comes here? Lorenzo and his infidel?

"Shakespeare uses this unaccented gliding ending more in his later works
to give an easier more unconstrained movement."

4. Occasionally a syllable is lacking, and the foot seems to halt as in
V, 1-17:

  As far as Belmont. In such a night, etc.

Here a syllable is lacking in the third foot. But artistically this is
no defect. We cannot ask that Jessica and Lorenzo always have the right
word at hand. The defective line simply means a pause and, therefore,
instead of being a blemish, is exactly right.

5. On the other hand, there is often an extra light syllable before the
caesura. (I, 1-48):

  Because you are not merry; and 'twere as easy, etc.

This extra syllable before the pause gives the effect of a slight
retardation. It was another device to make the verse easy and

6. Though the prevailing verse is iambic pentameter, we rarely find
more than three or four real accents. The iambic movement is constantly
broken and compelled to fight its way through. This gives an added
delight, since the ear, attuned to the iambic beat, readily recognizes
it when it recurs. The presence of a trochee is no blemish, but a

  Vailing her high tops higher than her ribs. (I, 1-28)

This inverted stress occurs frequently in Norwegian poetry. Wergeland
was a master of it and used it with great effect, for instance, in his
poem to Ludvig Daa beginning:

  Med døden i mit hjerte,
  og smilet om min mund,--

All this gives to Shakespeare's verse a marvellous flexibility and
power. Nor are these devices all that the poet had at his disposal. We
frequently find three syllables to the foot, giving the line a certain
fluidity which a translator only rarely can reproduce. Finally, a
further difficulty in translating Shakespeare lies in the richness of
the English language in words of one syllable. What literature can rival
the grace and smoothness of:

  In sooth I know not why I am so sad.

Ten monosyllables in succession! It is enough to drive a translator to
despair. Or take:

  To be or not to be, that is the question.

To summarize, no other language can rival English in dramatic dialogue
in verse, and this is notably true of Shakespeare's English, where the
word order is frequently simpler and more elastic than it is in modern

Two reviews of Collin quickly appeared in a pedagogical magazine, _Den
Höiere Skole_. The first of them,[26] by Ivar Alnæs, is a brief, rather
perfunctory review. He points out that _The Merchant of Venice_ is
especially adapted to reading in the gymnasium, for it is unified in
structure, the characters are clearly presented, the language is not
difficult, and the picture is worth while historically. Collin has,
therefore, done a great service in making the play available for
teaching purposes. Alnæs warmly praises the introduction; it is
clear, full, interesting, and marked throughout by a tone of genuine
appreciation. But right here lies its weakness. It is not always easy
to distinguish ascertained facts from Collin's imaginative combinations.
Every page, however, gives evidence of the editor's endeavor to give to
the student fresh, stimulating impressions, and new, revealing points of
view. This is a great merit and throws a cloak over many eccentricities
of language.

    [26. Vol. 5 (1903), pp. 51 ff.]

But Collin was not to escape so easily. In the same volume Dr.
August Western[27] wrote a severe criticism of Collin's treatment
of Shakespeare's versification.

    [27. _Ibid._ pp. 142 ff.]

He agrees, as a matter of course, that Shakespeare is a master of
versification, but he does not believe that Collin has proved it. That
blank verse is the natural speech of the chief characters or of the
minor characters under emotional stress, that prose is _usually_ used by
minor characters or by important characters under no emotional strain
is, in Dr. Western's opinion, all wrong. Nor is prose per se more
restful than poetry. And is not Shylock more emotional in his scene
(I, 3) than any of the characters in the casket scene immediately
following (II, 1)? According to Collin, then, I, 3 should be in verse
and II, 1 in prose! Equally absurd is the theory that Shakespeare's
characters speak in verse because their natures demand it. Does Shylock
go contrary to nature in III, 1? There is no psychological reason for
Verse in Shakespeare. He wrote as he did because convention prescribed
it. The same is true of Goethe and Schiller, of Bjørnson and Ibsen in
their earlier plays. Shakespeare's lapses into prose are, moreover, easy
to explain. There must always be something to amuse the gallery. Act
III, 1 must be so understood, for though Shakespeare was undoubtedly
moved, the effect of the scene was comic. The same is true of the
dialogue between Portia and Nerissa in Act I, and of all the scenes
in which Launcelot Gobbo appears.

Western admits, however, that much of the prose in Shakespeare cannot
be so explained; for example, the opening scenes in _Lear_ and _The
Tempest_. And this brings up another point, i.e., Collin's supposition
that Shakespeare's texts as we have them are exactly as he wrote them.
When the line halts, Collin simply finds proof of the poet's fine ear!
The truth probably is that Shakespeare had a good ear and that he always
wrote good lines, but that he took no pains to see that these lines were
correctly printed. Take, for example, such a line as:

  As far as Belmont.
      In such a night

This would, if written by anyone else, always be considered bad, and Dr.
Western does not believe that Collin's theory of the pauses will hold.
The pause plays no part in verse. A line consists of a fixed number
of _heard_ syllables. Collin would say that a line like I, 1-73:

  I will not fail you,

is filled out with a bow and a swinging of the hat. Then why are the
lines just before it, in which Salarino and Salario take leave of each
other, not defective? Indeed, how can we be sure that much of what
passes for "Shakespeare's versification" is not based on printers'
errors? In the folio of 1623 there are long passages printed in prose
which, after closer study, we must believe were written in verse--the
opening of _Lear_ and _The Tempest_. Often, too, it is plain that
the beginnings and endings of lines have been run together. Take the

  Why, then you are in love.

      Fie, fie!

  Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad--

The first line is one foot short, the second one foot too long. This
Collin would call a stroke of genius; each _fie_ is a complete foot,
and the line is complete! But what if the line were printed thus:

  Why, then you are in love.

      Fie, fie!

          Not in
  Love neither? Then let us say you are sad.

or possibly:

  Love neither? Then let's say that you are sad.

Another possible printer's error is found in I, 3-116:

  With bated breath and whispering humbleness
  Say this;
  Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last.

Are we here to imagine a pause of four feet? And what are we to do with
the first folio which has

  Say this; Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last.

all in one line? Perhaps some printer chose between the two. At any
rate, Collin's theory will not hold. In the schools, of course, one
cannot be a text critic but, on the other hand, one must not praise in
Shakespeare what may be the tricks of the printer's devil. The text is
not always faultless.

Finally, Dr. Western objects to the statement that the difficulty in
translating Shakespeare lies in the great number of monosyllables and

  In sooth, I know not why I am so sad

as proof. Ten monosyllables in one line! But this is not impossible in

  For sand, jeg ved ei, hvi jeg er saa trist--

It is not easy to translate Shakespeare, but the difficulty goes deeper
than his richness in words of one syllable.

With the greater part of Dr. Western's article everyone will agree. It
is doubtful if any case could be made out for the division of prose and
verse based on psychology. Shakespeare probably wrote his plays in verse
for the same reason that Goethe and Schiller and Oehlenschläger did. It
was the fashion. And how difficult it is to break with fashion or with
old tradition, the history of Ibsen's transition from poetry to prose
shows. It is equally certain that in Collin's _Introduction_ it is
difficult to distinguish ascertained facts from brilliant speculation.
But it is not easy to agree with Dr. Western that Collin's explanation
of the "pause" is a tissue of fancy.

In the first place, no one denies that the printers have at times
played havoc with Shakespeare's text. Van Dam and Stoffel, to whose book
Western refers and whose suggestions are directly responsible for this
article, have shown this clearly enough. But when Dr. Western argues
that because printers have corrupted the text in some places, they must
be held accountable for every defective short line, we answer, it does
not follow. In the second place, why should not a pause play a part in
prosody as well as in music? Recall Tennyson's verse:

      Break, break, break,
  On thy cold, grey stones, o sea!

where no one feels that the first line is defective. Of course the
answer is that in Tennyson no accented syllable is lacking. But it is
difficult to understand what difference this makes. When the reader has
finished pronouncing _Belmont_ there _must_ be a moment's hesitation
before Lorenzo breaks in with:

  In such a night

and this pause may have metrical value. The only judge of verse, after
all, is the hearer, and, in my opinion, Collin is right when he points
out the value of the slight metrical pause between the bits of repartee.
Whether Shakespeare counted the syllables beforehand or not, is another
matter. In the third place, Collin did not quote in support of his
theory the preposterous lines which Dr. Western uses against him. Collin
does quote I, 1-5:

  I am to learn.

and I, 1-73:

  I will not fail you

is a close parallel, but Collin probably would not insist that his
theory accounts for every case. As to Dr. Western's other example of
good meter spoiled by corrupt texts, Collin would, no doubt, admit
the possibility of the proposed emendations. It would not alter his
contention that a pause in the line, like a pause in music, is not
necessarily void, but may be very significant indeed.

The array of Shakespearean critics in Norway, as we said at the
beginning, is not imposing. Nor are their contributions important.
But they show, at least, a sound acquaintance with Shakespeare and
Shakespeareana, and some of them, like the articles of Just Bing,
Brettville Jensen, Christen Collin, and August Western, are interesting
and illuminating. Bjørnson's article in _Aftenbladet_ is not merely
suggestive as Shakespearean criticism, but it throws valuable light
on Bjørnson himself and his literary development. When we come to the
dramatic criticism of Shakespeare's plays, we shall find renewed
evidence of a wide and intelligent knowledge of Shakespeare in Norway.


Performances Of Shakespeare's Plays In Norway


The first public theater in Christiania was opened by the Swedish
actor, Johan Peter Strömberg, on January 30, 1827, but no Shakespeare
production was put on during his short and troubled administration.
Not quite two years later this strictly private undertaking became a
semi-public one under the immediate direction of J.K. Böcher, and at
the close of the season 1829-30, Böcher gave by way of epilogue to
the year, two performances including scenes from Holberg's _Melampe_,
Shakespeare's _Hamlet_, and Oehlenschläger's _Aladdin_. The Danish actor
Berg played Hamlet, but we have no further details of the performance.
We may be sure, however, that of the two translations available, Boye's
and Foersom's, the latter was used. _Hamlet_, or a part of it, was thus
given for the first time in Norway nearly seventeen years after Foersom
himself had brought it upon the stage in Denmark.[1]

    [1. Blanc: _Christianias Theaters Historie_, p. 51.]

More than fourteen years were to elapse before the theater took
up Shakespeare in earnest. On July 28, 1844, the first complete
Shakespearean play was given. This was _Macbeth_ in Foersom's version
of Schiller's "bearbeitung," which we shall take up in our studies of
Shakespeare in Denmark.[2] No reviews of it are to be found in the
newspapers of the time, not even an announcement. This, however, does
not prove that the event was unnoticed, for the press of that day was
a naive one. Extensive reviews were unknown; the most that the public
expected was a notice.

    [2. Blanc does not refer to this performance in his _Historie_.
    But this and all other data of performances from 1844 to 1899 are
    taken from his "Fortegnelse over alle dramatiske Arbeider, som
    siden Kristiania Offentlige Theaters Aabning, den 30. Januar 1827,
    har vært opført af dets Personale indtil 15 Juni 1899." The work
    is unpublished. Ms 4to, No. 940 in the University Library,

We are equally ignorant of the fate of _Othello_, performed the next
season, being given for the first time on January 3, 1845. Wulff's
Danish translation was used. Blanc says in his _Historie_[3] that
Desdemona and Iago were highly praised, but that the play as a whole
was greatly beyond the powers of the theater.

    [3. See p. 94, note 1.]

Nearly eight years later, November 11, 1852, _Romeo and Juliet_ in
Foersom's translation received its Norwegian premiere. The acting
version used was that made for the Royal Theater in Copenhagen by A.E.
Boye in 1828.[4] _Christiania Posten_[5] reports a packed house and a
tremendous enthusiasm. Romeo (by Wiehe) and Juliet (by Jomfru Svendsen)
revealed careful study and complete understanding. The reviewer in
_Morgenbladet_[6] begins with the little essay on Shakespeare so common
at the time; "Everyone knows with what colors the immortal Shakespeare
depicts human passions. In _Othello_, jealousy; in _Hamlet_, despair;
in _Romeo and Juliet_, love, are sung in tones which penetrate to the
depths of the soul. Against the background of bitter feud, the love of
Romeo and Juliet stands out victorious and beneficent. Even if we cannot
comprehend this passion, we can, at least, feel the ennobling power of
the story." Both of the leading parts are warmly praised. Of Wiehe the
reviewer says: "Der var et Liv af Varme hos ham i fuldt Maal, og den
grændseløse Fortvivlelse blev gjengivet med en næsten forfærdelig

    [4. See Aumont og Collin: _Det Danske Nationalteater_. V Afsnit,
    pp. 118 ff.]

    [5. _Christiania Posten_. November 15, 1845.]

    [6. _Morgenbladet_. November 15, 1845.]

The same season (Dec. 11, 1852) the theater also presented _As You
Like It_ in the Danish version by Sille Beyer. The performance of two
Shakespearean plays within a year may rightly be called an ambitious
undertaking for a small theatre without a cent of subsidy. _Christiania
Posten_ says: "It is a real kindness to the public to make it acquainted
with these old masterpieces. One feels refreshed, as though coming
out of a bath, after a plunge into their boundless, pure poetry. The
marvellous thing about this comedy (_As You Like It_) is its wonderful,
spontaneous freshness, and its freedom from all sentimentality and
emotional nonsense." The acting, says the critic, was admirable, but
its high quality must, in a measure, be attributed to the sympathy and
enthusiasm of the audience. Wiehe is praised for his interpretation of
Orlando and Jomfru Svendsen for her Rosalind.[7] Apparently none of the
reviewers noticed that Sille Beyer had turned Shakespeare upside down.
Her version was given for the last time on Sept. 25, 1878, and in this
connection an interesting discussion sprang up in the press.

    [7. _Christiania Posten_. Dec. 12, 1852.]

The play was presented by student actors, and the performance
was therefore less finished than it would have been under other
circumstances. _Aftenposten_ was doubtless right when it criticised the
director for entrusting so great a play to unpractised hands, assuming
that Shakespeare should be played at all. "For our part, we do not
believe the time far distant when Shakespeare will cease to be a
regular part of the repertoire."[8] To this statement a contributor in
_Aftenposten_ for Sept. 28 objected. He admits that Shakespeare wrote
his plays for a stage different from our own, that the ease with which
Elizabethan scenery was shifted gave his plays a form that makes them
difficult to play today. Too often at a modern presentation we feel that
we are seeing a succession of scenes rather than unified, organic drama.
But, after all, the main thing is the substance--"the weighty content,
and this will most certainly secure for them for a long time to come a
place in the repertoire of the theater of the Germanic world. So long
as we admit that in the delineation of character, in the presentation
of noble figures, and in the mastery of dialogue, Shakespeare is
unexcelled, so long we must admit that Shakespeare has a place on the
modern stage."

    [8. _Aftenposten_. Sept. 21, 1878.]

Where did _Aftenposten_'s reviewer get the idea that Shakespeare's plays
are not adapted to the modern stage? Was it from Charles Lamb? At any
rate, it is certain that he anticipated a movement that has led to many
devices both in the English-speaking countries and in Germany to
reproduce the stage conditions under which Shakespeare's plays were
performed during his own life.

Of the next Shakespearean piece to be performed in Christiania,
_All's Well That Ends Well_, there is but the briefest mention in
the newspapers. We know that it was given in the curiously perverted
arrangement by Sille Beyer and was presented twelve times from January
15, 1854 to May 23, 1869. On that day a new version based on Lembcke's
translation was used, and in this form the play was given eight times
the following seasons. Since January 24, 1882, it has not been performed
in Norway.[9]

    [9. See Blanc's _Fortegnelse_. p. 93.]

At the beginning of the next season, October 29, 1854, _Much Ado About
Nothing_ was introduced to Kristiania theater-goers under the title
_Blind Alarm_. The translation was by Carl Borgaard, director of the
theater. But here, too, contemporary documents leave us in the dark.
There is merely a brief announcement in the newspapers. Blanc informs
us that Jomfru Svendsen played Hero, and Wiehe, Benedict.[10]

    [10. See Blanc's _Fortegnelse_. p. 93.]

After _Blind Alarm_ Shakespeare disappears from the repertoire for
nearly four years. A version of _The Taming of the Shrew_ under the
title _Hun Maa Tæmmes_ was given on March 28, 1858, but with no great
success. Most of the papers ignored it. _Aftenbladet_ merely announced
that it had been given.[11]

    [11. _Aftenbladet_. March 22, 1858.]

_Viola_, Sille Beyer's adaptation of _Twelfth Night_ was presented at
Christiania Theater on November 20, 1860, the eighth of Shakespeare's
plays to be presented in Norway, and again not merely in a Danish text
but in a version made for the Copenhagen Theater.

Neither the critics nor the public were exacting. The press hailed
_Viola_ as a tremendous relief from the frothy stuff with which
theater-goers had been sickened for a season or two. "The theater
finally justified its existence," says _Morgenbladet_,[12] "by a
performance of one of Shakespeare's plays. Viola was beautifully done."
The writer then explains in conventional fashion the meaning of the
English title and goes on--"But since the celebration of _Twelfth Night_
could interest only the English, the Germans have "bearbeidet" the play
and centered the interest around Viola. We have adopted this version."
He approves of Sille Beyer's cutting, though he admits that much is lost
of the breadth and overwhelming romantic fulness that mark the original.
But this he thinks is compensated for by greater intelligibility and the
resulting dramatic effect. "Men hvad Stykket ved saadan Forandring,
Beklippelse, og Udeladelse saaatsige taber af sin Fylde idet ikke alt
det Leende, Sorgløse og Romantiske vandre saa ligeberettiget side om
side igjennem Stykket, mens det Øvrige samler sig om Viola, det opveies
ved den større Forstaaelighed for vort Publikum og denne mere afrundede
sceniske Virkning, Stykket ved Bearbeidelsen har faaet." As the piece is
arranged now, Viola and her brother are not on the stage at the same
time until Act V. Both rôles may therefore be played by Jomfru Svendsen.
The critic is captivated by her acting of the double rôle, and
Jørgensen's Malvolio and Johannes Brun's Sir Andrew Aguecheek share
with her the glory of a thoroughly successful performance.

    [12. November 23, 1860.]

Sille Beyer's _Viola_ was given twelve times. From the thirteenth
performance, January 21, 1890, _Twelfth Night_ was given in a new form
based on Lembcke's translation.

A thorough search through the newspaper files fails to reveal even a
slight notice of _The Merchant of Venice_ (Kjøbmanden i Venedig) played
for the first time on Sept. 17, 1861. Rahbek's translation was used, and
this continued to be the standard until 1874, when, beginning with the
eighth performance, it was replaced by Lembcke's.

We come, then, to _A Midsummer Night's Dream_ (Skjærsommernatsdrømmen)
played in Oehlenschläger's translation under Bjørnson's direction on
April 17, 1865. The play was given ten times from that date till
May 27, 1866. In spite of this unusual run it appears to have been only
moderately successful, and when Bjørnson dropped it in the spring of
1866, it was to disappear from the repertoire for thirty-seven years.
On January 15, 1903, it was revived by Bjørnson's son, Bjørn Bjørnson.
This time, however, it was called _Midsommernatsdrömmen_, and the acting
version was based on Lembcke's translation. In this new shape it has
been played twenty-seven times up to January, 1913.

The interesting polemic which Bjørnson's production occasioned has
already been discussed at some length. This may be added, however:
A play which, according to the poet's confession, influenced his life as
this one did, has played an important part in Norwegian literature. The
influence may be intangible. It is none the less real.

More popular than any of the plays which had thus far been presented in
Norway was _A Winter's Tale_, performed at Christiania Theater for the
first time on May 4, 1866. The version used had, however, but a faint
resemblance to the original. It was a Danish revision of Dingelstedt's
_Ein Wintermärchen_. I shall discuss this Holst-Dingelstedt text in
another place. At this point it is enough to say that Shakespeare is
highly diluted. It seems, nevertheless, to have been successful, for
between the date of its premiere and March 21, 1893, when it was given
for the last time, it received fifty-seven performances, easily breaking
all records for Shakespearean plays at the old theater. And at the new
National Theater, where it has never been given, no Shakespearean play,
with the exception of _The Taming of the Shrew_ has approached its

_Aftenbladet_[13] in its preliminary review said: "Although this is
not one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, it is well worth putting on,
especially in the form which Dingelstedt has given to it. It was
received with the greatest enthusiasm." But _Aftenbladet's_ promised
critical review never appeared.

    [13. May 5, 1866.]

More interesting and more important than most of the performances
which we have thus far considered is that of _Henry IV_ in 1867, while
Bjørnson was still director. To his desire to give Johannes Brun an
opportunity for the display of his genius in the greatest of comic rôles
we owe this version of the play. Bjørnson obviously could not give both
parts, and he chose to combine cuttings from the two into a single play
with Falstaff as the central figure. The translation used was Lembcke's
and the text was only slightly norvagicized.

Bjørnson's original prompt book is not now available. In 1910, however,
H. Wiers Jensen, a playwright associated with the National Theater,
shortened and slightly adapted the version for a revival of the play,
which had not been seen in Kristiania since February 8, 1885. We may
assume that in all essentials the prompt book of 1910 reproduces that of

In this _Kong Henrik IV_ the action opens with I Henry IV, II-4, and Act
I consists of this scene freely cut and equally freely handled in the
distribution of speeches. The opening of the scene, for example, is cut
away entirely and replaced by a brief account of the robbery put naively
into the mouth of Poins. The opening of Act II is entirely new. Since
all the historical scenes of Act I of the original have been omitted, it
becomes necessary to give the audience some notion of the background.
This is done in a few lines in which the King tells of the revolt of
the nobles and of his own difficult situation. Then follows the king's
speech from Part I, Act III, Sc. 2:

  Lords, give us leave; the prince of Wales and I
  must have some conference...

and what follows is the remainder of the scene with many cuttings. Sir
Walter Blunt does not appear. His rôle is taken by Warwick.

Act II, Sc. 2 of Bjørnson's text follows Part I, Act III, Sc. 3 closely.

Act III, Sc. 1 corresponds with Part I, Act III, Sc. 1 to the point
where Lady Mortimer and Lady Percy enter. This episode is cut and the
scene resumes with the entrance of the messenger in Part I, Act IV,
Sc. 1, line 14. This scene is then followed in outline to the end.

Act III, Sc. 2 begins with Part I, Act IV, Sc. 3 from the entrance of
Falstaff, and follows it to the end of the scene. To this is added most
of Scene 4, but there is little left of the original action. Only the
Falstaff episodes are retained intact.

The last act (IV) is a wonderful composite. Scene 1 corresponds closely
to Part II, Act III, Sc. 4, but it is, as usual, severely cut. Scene 2
reverts back to Part II, Act III, Sc. 2 and is based on this scene to
line 246, after which it is free handling of Part II, Act V, Sc. 3.
Scene 3 is based on Part II, Act V, Sc. 5.

A careful reading of Bjørnson's text with the above as a guide will
show that this collection of episodes, chaotic as it seems, makes no
ineffective play. With a genius--and a genius Johannes Brun was--as
Falstaff, one can imagine that the piece went brilliantly. The press
received it favorably, though the reviewers were much too critical to
allow Bjørnson's mangling of the text to go unrebuked.

_Aftenbladet_ has a careful review.[14] The writer admits that in our
day it requires courage and labor to put on one of Shakespeare's
historical plays, for they were written for a stage radically different
from ours. In the Elizabethan times the immense scale of these
"histories" presented no difficulties. On a modern stage the mere
bulk makes a faithful rendition impossible. And the moment one starts
tampering with Shakespeare, trouble begins. No two adapters will agree
as to what or how to cut. Moreover, it may well be questioned whether
any such cutting as that made for the theater here would be tolerated in
any other country with a higher and older Shakespeare "Kultur." The
attempt to fuse the two parts of _Henry IV_ would be impossible in a
country with higher standards. "Our theater can, however, venture
undisturbed to combine these two comprehensive series of scenes into
one which shall not require more time than each one of them singly--a
venture, to be sure, which is not wholly without precedent in foreign
countries. It is clear that the result cannot give an adequate notion of
Shakespeare's 'histories' in all their richness of content, but it does,
perhaps, give to the theater a series of worth-while problems to work
out, the importance of which should not be underestimated. The attempt,
too, has made our theater-goers familiar with Shakespeare's greatest
comic character, apparently to their immense delight. Added to all this
is the fact that the acting was uniformly excellent."

    [14. February 18, 1867.]

But by what right is the play called Henry IV? Practically nothing is
left of the historical setting, and the spectator is at a loss to know
just what the whole thing is about. Certainly the whole emphasis is
shifted, for the king, instead of being an important character is
overshadowed by Prince Hal. The Falstaff scenes, on the other hand, are
left almost in their original fulness, and thus constitute a much more
important part of the play than they do in the original. The article
closes with a glowing tribute to Johannes Brun as Falstaff.

_Morgenbladet_[15] goes into greater detail. The reviewer seems to think
that Shakespeare had some deep purpose in dividing the material into two
parts--he wished to have room to develop the character of Prince Henry.
"Accordingly, in the first part he gives us the early stages of Prince
Hal's growth, beginning with the Prince of Wales as a sort of superior
rake and tracing the development of his better qualities. In Part II we
see the complete assertion of his spiritual and intellectual powers."
The writer overlooks the fact that what Shakespeare was writing first of
all--or rather, what he was revising--was a chronicle. If he required
more than five acts to give the history of Henry IV he could use ten and
call it two plays. If, in so doing, he gave admirable characterization,
it was something inherent in his own genius, not in the materials with
which he was working.

    [15. February 17, 1867.]

The history, says the reviewer, and the Falstaff scenes are the
background for the study of the Prince, each one serving a distinct
purpose. But here the history has been made meaningless and the Falstaff
episodes have been put in the foreground. He points out that balance,
proportion, and perspective are all lost by this. Yet, granting that
such revolutionizing of a masterpiece is ever allowable, it must be
admitted that Bjørnson has done it with considerable skill. Bjørnson's
purpose is clear enough. He knew that Johannes Brun as Falstaff would
score a triumph, and this success for his theater he was determined to
secure. The same motive was back of the version which Stjernstrøm put on
in Stockholm, and there can be little doubt that his success suggested
the idea to Bjørnson. The nature of the cutting reveals the purpose at
every step. For instance, the scene in which the Gadskill robbery is
made clear, is cut entirely. We thus lose the first glimpse of the
sterner and manlier side of the royal reveller. In fact, if Bjørnson had
been frank he would have called his play _Falstaff--based on certain
scenes from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Parts I and II_.

Yet, though much has been lost, much of what remains is excellent.
Brun's Falstaff almost reconciles us to the sacrifice. Long may he live
and delight us with it! It is one of his most superb creations. The cast
as a whole is warmly praised. It is interesting to note that at the
close of the review the critic suggests that the text be revised with
Hagberg's Swedish translation at hand, for Lembcke's Danish contains
many words unusual or even unfamiliar in Norwegian.

_Henry IV_ remained popular in Norway, although from February 8,
1885 to February 10, 1910 it was not given in Kristiania. When, in 1910,
it was revived with Løvaas as Falstaff, the reception given it by the
press was about what it had been a quarter of a century before.
_Aftenposten_'s[16] comment is characteristic: "The play is turned
upside down. The comic sub-plot with Falstaff as central figure is
brought forward to the exclusion of all the rest. More than this, what
is retained is shamelessly altered." Much more scathing is a short
review by Christian Elster in the magazine _Kringsjaa_.[17] The play,
he declares, has obviously been given to help out the box office by
speculating in the popularity of Falstaff. "There is no unity, no
coherence, no consistency in the delineation of characters, and even
from the comic scenes the spirit has fled."[17]

    [16. _Aftenposten_. February 25, 1910.]

    [17. _Kringsjaa_ XV, III (1910), p. 173.]

To all this it may be replied that the public was right when it
accepted Falstaff for what he was regardless of the violence done to the
original. The Norwegian public cared little about the wars, little even
about the king and the prince; but people will tell one today of those
glorious evenings when they sat in the theater and revelled in Johannes
Brun as the big, elephantine knight.

In the spring of 1813, Foersom himself brought out _Hamlet_ on the
Danish stage. Nearly sixty years were to pass before this play was put
on in Norway, March 4, 1870.

The press was not lavish in its praise. _Dagbladet_[18] remarks
that though the performance was not what it ought to have been, the
audience followed it from first to last with undivided attention.
_Aftenbladet_[19] has a long and interesting review. Most of it is
given over to a criticism of Isaachson's Hamlet. First of all, says
the reviewer, Isaachson labors under the delusion that every line is
cryptic, embodying a secret. This leads him to forget the volume of the
part and to invent all sorts of fanciful interpretations for details.
Thus he loses the unity of the character. Things are hurried through to
a conclusion and the fine transitions are lost. For example, "Oh, that
this too, too solid flesh would melt" is started well, but the speech at
once gains in clearness and decision until one wonders at the close why
such a Hamlet does not act at once with promptness and vigor. There are,
to be sure, occasional excellences, but they do not conceal the fact
that, as a whole, Isaachson does not understand Hamlet.

    [18. March 5, 1870.]

    [19. March 8, 1870.]

Since its first performance _Hamlet_ has been given often in
Norway--twenty-eight times at the old Christiania Theater, and (from
October 31, 1907) seventeen times at the new National Theater. Its
revival in 1907, after an intermission of twenty-four years, was a
complete success, although _Morgenbladet_[20] complained that the
performance lacked light and inspiration. The house was full and the
audience appreciative.

    [20. November 1, 1907.]

_Aftenposten_[21] found the production admirable. Christensen's Hamlet
was a stroke of genius. "Han er voxet i og med Rollen; han har trængt
sig ind i den danske Prins' dybeste Individualitet." And of the revival
the paper says: "The performance shows that a national theater can solve
difficult problems when the effort is made with sympathy, joy, and
devotion to art."

    [21. November 1, 1907.]

In my judgment no theater could have given a better caste for
_The Merry Wives of Windsor_ than that with which Christiania Theater
was provided. All the actors were artists of distinction; and it is
not strange, therefore, that the first performance was a huge success.
_Aftenposten_[22] declares that Brun's Falstaff was a revelation.
_Morgenbladet_[23] says that the play was done only moderately well.
Brun as Falstaff was, however, "especially amusing." _Aftenbladet_[24]
is more generous. "_The Merry Wives of Windsor_ has been awaited with a
good deal of interest. Next to the curiosity about the play itself, the
chief attraction has been Brun as Falstaff. And though Falstaff as lover
gives no such opportunities as Falstaff, the mock hero, Brun makes a
notable rôle out of it because he knows how to seize upon and bring out
all there is in it."

    [22. May 15, 1873.]

    [23. May 15, 1873.]

    [24. May 15, 1873.]

Johannes Brun's Falstaff is a classic to this day on the Norwegian
stage. In _Illustreret Tidende_ for July 12, 1874, K.A. Winterhjelm has
a short appreciation of his work. "Johannes Brun has, as nearly as we
can estimate, played something like three hundred rôles at Christiania
Theater. Many of them, to be sure, are minor parts--but there remains
a goodly number of important ones, from the clown in the farce to the
chief parts in the great comedies. Merely to enumerate his great
successes would carry us far afield. We recall in passing that he
has given us Falstaff both in _Henry IV_ and in _The Merry Wives of
Windsor_, Bottom in _A Midsummer Night's Dream_, and Autolycus in
_A Winter's Tale_. Perhaps he lacks something of the nobleman we feel
that he should be in _Henry IV_, but aside from this petty criticism,
what a wondrous comic character Brun has given us!"

As to the success of _Coriolanus_, the sixteenth of Shakespeare's plays
to be put on in Kristiania, neither the newspapers nor the magazines
give us any clew. If we may believe a little puff in _Aftenposten_ for
January 20, 1874, the staging was to be magnificent. _Coriolanus_ was
played in a translation by Hartvig Lassen for the first time on January
21, 1874. After thirteen performances it was withdrawn on January 10,
1876, and has not been since presented.

In 1877, _Richard III_ was brought on the boards for the first time, but
apparently the occasion was not considered significant, for there is
scarcely a notice of it. The public seemed surfeited with Shakespeare,
although the average had been less than one Shakespearean play a season.
At all events, it was ten years before the theater put on a new
one--_Julius Caesar_, on March 22, 1888. It had the unheard of
distinction of being acted sixteen times in one month, from the premiere
night to April 22. Yet the papers passed it by with indifference. Most
of them gave it merely a notice, and the promised review in
_Aftenposten_ never appeared.

_Julius Caesar_ is the last new play to be presented at Christiania
Theater or at the National Theater, which replaced the old Christiania
Theater in 1899. From October, 1899 to January, 1913 the National
Theater has presented eight Shakespearean plays, but every one of
them has been a revival of plays previously presented.


Up to a few years ago, the only theater of consequence in Norway,
outside of the capital, was at Bergen. In many respects the history of
the theater at Bergen is more interesting than that of the theater at
Christiania. Established in 1850, while Christiania Theater was still
largely Danish, to foster Norwegian dramatic art, it is associated with
the greatest names in Norwegian art and letters. The theater owes its
origin mainly to Ole Bull; Henrik Ibsen was official playwright from
1851 to 1857, and Bjørnson was director from 1857 to 1859. For a dozen
years or more "Den Nationale Scene i Bergen" led a precarious existence
and finally closed its doors in 1863. In 1876 the theater was reopened.
During the first period only two Shakespearean plays were
given--_Twelfth Night_ and _As You Like It_.

_As You Like It_ in Stille Beyer's version was played twice during the
season 1855-56, on September 30 and October 3. The press is silent about
the performances, but doubtless we may accept Blanc's statement that the
task was too severe for the Bergen theater.[25]

    [25. Norges Første Nationale Scene. Kristiania. 1884, p. 206.]

Rather more successful were the two performances of _Twelfth Night_ in
a stage version adapted from the German of Deinhardstein. The celebrated
Laura Svendsen played the double rôle of Sebastian-Viola with
conspicuous success.[26]

    [26. _Ibid._, p. 304.]

_The Merchant of Venice_ was given for the first time on October 9,
1878, two years after the reopening of the theater. _Bergens
Tidende_[27] calls the production "a creditable piece of amateur
theatricals," insisting in a review of some length that the young
theater cannot measure up to the demands which a play of Shakespeare's
makes. _Bergensposten_ is less severe. Though far from faultless, the
presentation was creditable, in some details excellent. But, quite apart
from its absolute merits, there is great satisfaction in seeing the
theater undertake plays that are worth while.[28] Both papers agree
that the audience was large and enthusiastic.

    [27. _Bergens Tidende_, October 10, 1878.]

    [28. _Bergensposten_, October 11, 1878.]

The next season _A Winter's Tale_ was given in H.P. Holst's
translation and adaptation of Dingelstedt's German acting version
_Ein Wintermärchen_. The press greeted it enthusiastically. _Bergens
Tidende_[29] says: "_A Winter's Tale_ was performed at our theater
yesterday in a manner that won the enthusiastic applause of a large
gathering. The principal actors were called before the curtain again and
again. It is greatly to the credit of any theater to give a Shakespeare
drama, and all the more so when it can do it in a form as artistically
perfect as was yesterday's presentation."

    [29. April 20, 1880. Cf. also _Bergensposten_, April 21, 1880.]

Concerning _Othello_, third in order in the Shakespearean repertoire in
Bergen, the reviews of the first performance, November 13, 1881, are
conflicting. _Bergens Tidende_[30] is all praise. It has no hesitation
in pronouncing Johannesen's Iago a masterpiece. _Bergensposten_[31]
calls the performance passable but utterly damns Johannesen--"nothing
short of a colossal blunder." Hr. Johannesen is commended to the easily
accessible commentaries of Taine and Genée, and to Hamlet's speech to
the players. Desdemona and Cassio are dismissed in much the same

    [30. November 14, 1881.]

    [31. November 15, 1881.]

A few days later, November 18, _Bergensposten_ reviewed the performance
again and was glad to note a great improvement.

_Bergens Addressecontoirs Efterretninger_[32] agrees with
_Bergensposten_ in its estimate of Johannesen. "He gives us only the
villain in Iago, not the cunning Ensign who deceives so many." But
Desdemona was thoroughly satisfying.

    [32. November 15, 1881.]

Whatever may have been its initial success, _Othello_ did not last. It
was given four times during the season 1881-2, but was then dropped and
has never since been taken up.

Three different groups of _Hamlet_ performances have been given in
Bergen. In September, 1883, the Ophelia scenes from Act IV were given;
the complete play, however, was not given till November 28, 1886. The
press,[33] for once, was unanimous in declaring the production a
success. It is interesting that an untried actor at his debut was
entrusted with the rôle. But, to judge from the press comments, Hr.
Løchen more than justified the confidence in him. His interpretation of
the subtlest character in Shakespeare was thoroughly satisfying.[34]

    [33. Cf. _Bergens Tidende_, November 29, 1886; _Bergens
    Aftenblad_, November 29, 1886; _Bergensposten_, December 2, 1886.]

    [34. Cf. _Bergens Tidende_, November 30, 1886; _Bergens
    Aftenblad_, November 29, 1886; _Bergensposten_, December 1, 1886.]

Finally, it should be noted that a Swedish travelling company under the
direction of the well-known August Lindberg played _Hamlet_ in Bergen on
November 5, 1895.

It is apparent, from the tone of the press comment that a Shakespearean
production was regarded as a serious undertaking. The theater approached
the task hesitatingly, and the newspapers always qualify their praise or
their blame with some apologetic remark about "the limited resources of
our theater." This explains the long gaps between new productions, five
years between _Othello_ (1881) and the complete _Hamlet_ (1886); five
years likewise between _Hamlet_ and _King Henry IV_.

_Henry IV_ in Bjørnson's stage cutting promised at first to establish
itself. Its first performance was greeted by a crowded house, and
enthusiasm ran high. The press questions the right of the play to the
title of _Henry IV_, since it is a collection of scenes grouped about
Prince Hal and Falstaff. But aside from this purely objective criticism
the comment is favorable.[35]

    [35. Cf. _Bergens Tidende_, March 2, 1891; _Bergens Aftenblad_,
    March 2, 1891.]

With the second performance (March 4, 1891) comes a change. _Bergens
Tidende_ remarks that it is a common experience that a second
performance is not so successful as the first. Certainly this was true
in the case of _Henry IV_. The life and sparkle were gone, and the
sallies of Falstaff awakened no such infectious laughter as they had a
few evenings before.[36] There was no applause from the crowded house,
and the coolness of the audience reacted upon the players--all in
violent contrast to the first performance. The reviewer in _Aftenbladet_
predicts that the production will have no very long life.[37] He was
right. It was given once more, on March 6. Since then the theater-goers
of Bergen have not seen it on their own stage.

    [36. Cf. March 5, 1891.]

    [37. Cf. March 5, 1891.]

Sille Beyer's _Viola_ (which, in turn, is an adaptation of the German of
Deinhardstein) had been played twice at the old Bergen Theater, July 17
and 18, 1861. It was now (Oct. 9, 1892) revived in a new cutting based
on Lembcke's Danish translation. _Bergens Aftenblad_ declares that the
cutting was reckless and the staging almost beggarly. The presentation
itself hardly rose above the mediocre.[38] _Bergens Tidende_, on the
other hand, reports that the performance was an entire success. The
caste was unexpectedly strong; the costumes and scenery splendid. The
audience was appreciative and there was generous applause.[39]

    [38. October 10, 1892.]

    [39. October 10 and 13, 1892.]

The last new play to find a place on the repertoire at Bergen is _Romeo
and Juliet_. This was performed four times in May, 1897. Like _Henry
IV_, it promised to be a great success, but it survived only four
performances. _Bergens Tidende_[40] gives a careful, well-written
analysis of the play and of the presentation. The reviewer gives full
credit for the beauty of the staging and the excellence of the acting,
but criticises the censor sharply for the unskillful cutting, and the
stage manager for the long, tiresome waits. _Bergens Aftenblad_[41]
praises the performance almost without reserve.

    [40. May 15, 1897.]

    [41. May 15, 1897.]

And the last chapter in the history of Shakespeare's dramas in Bergen
is a revival of _A Winter's Tale_ in the season 1902-3. The theater had
done its utmost to give a spendid and worthy setting, and great care was
given to the rehearsals. The result was a performance which, for beauty,
symmetry, and artistic unity ranks among the very best that have ever
been seen at the theater. The press was unanimous in its cordial
recognition.[42] The play was given no less than nine times during
October, 1902. Since then Shakespeare has not been given at _Den
Nationale Scene i Bergen_.

    [42. See _Bergens Aftenblad_ for October 6-9, 1902; _Bergens
    Tidende_, October 6, 1902.]


Register Of Shakespearean Performances In Norway


I. Christiania Theater.

The following record is an excerpt of all the data relating to
Shakespeare in T. Blanc: _Fortegnelse over alle dramatiske Arbeider, som
siden Kristiania Theaters offentlige Aabning den 30 Januar, 1827, har
været opførte paa samme af dets Personale indtil 15 Juni 1899_. This
_Fortegnelse_ is still unpublished. The MS. is quarto No. 940 in the
University Library, Kristiania.

1. Blind Alarm. Skuespil i fem Akter af Shakespeare. (Original Title:
_Much Ado About Nothing_). Translated by Carl Borgaard, from the
nineteenth performance, May 18, 1878, under the title _Stor Staahei
for Ingenting_, Oct. 29, 1854, May 26, 1878. 18 times.

2. Coriolanus. Sørgespil i 5 Akter af Shakespeare, bearbeidet for Scenen
af H. Lassen. Jan. 21, 1874--Jan. 10, 1876. 13 times.

3. De Muntre Koner i Windsor. Lystspil i 5 Akter af Shakespeare.
(Adapted for the stage by H. Lassen.) May 14, 1873, Nov. 8, 1876.
12 times.

4. En Skjærsommernatsdrøm. Eventyrkomedie i 5 Akter af W. Shakespeare.
(Original Title: _A Midsummer Night's Dream_.) Translated by
Oehlenschlæger. Music by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. April 17, 1865, May 27,
1866. 10 times.

5. Et Vintereventyr. Romantisk Skuespil i 5 Akter. Adapted from
Shakespeare's _A Winter's Tale_ and Dinglestedt's _Ein Wintermärchen_
by H.P. Holst. Music by Flotow. May 4, 1866, March 21, 1893. 57 times.

6. Hamlet. Tragedie i 5 Akter af W. Shakespeare. Translated by Foersom
and Lembcke. March 4, 1870, April 27, 1883. 28 times.

7. Hun Maa Tæmmes. Lystspil i 4 Akter. Adapted from Shakespeare's
_Taming of the Shrew_. March 21, 1858, April 12, 1881. 28 times.

8. Julius Caesar. Tragedie i 5 Akter af William Shakespeare. Translated
by H. Lassen. March 22, 1887, April 22, 1887. 16 times.

9. Kjøbmanden i Venedig. Skuespil i 5 Akter af Shakespeare. Adapted for
the stage from Rahbek's translation. From the eighth performance (Oct.
14, 1874) probably in a new translation by Lembcke. Sept. 17, 1861,
June 12, 1882. 23 times.

10. Kong Henrik Den Fjerde. Skuespil i 5 Akter af W. Shakespeare.
Adapted by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson from _King Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2_
in Lembcke's translation. Feb. 12, 1867, Feb. 8, 1885. 17 times.

11. Kong Richard III. Tragedie i 5 Akter af W. Shakespeare. Translated
by Lembcke. May 27, 1877, March 10, 1891. 26 times.

12. Kongens Læge. Romantisk Lystspil i 5 Akter efter Shakespeares
_All's Well That Ends Well_. Adapted by Sille Beyer. From the thirteenth
performance (May 23, 1869) given under the title _Naar Enden er god er
Alting godt_ in a new translation by Edvard Lembcke. Jan. 5, 1854, Jan.
24, 1882. 20 times.

13. Livet i Skoven. Romantisk Lystspil i 4 Akter efter Shakespeares
_As You Like It_. Adapted by Sille Beyer. Dec. 9, 1852, Sept. 25, 1878.
19 times.

14. Macbeth. Tragedie i 5 Akter af W. Shakespeare. Schiller's version
translated by Peter Foersom. Music by Weyse. July 28, 1844, Jan. 6,
1896. 37 times.

15. Othello, Moren af Venedig. Tragedie i 5 Akter af Shakespeare.
Translated by P.L. Wulff. Jan. 3, 1845, March 10, 1872. 10 times.

16. Romeo og Julie. Tragedie i 5 Akter af W. Shakespeare. Translated by
P. Foersom and A.E. Boye. From the sixth performance (April 4, 1880)
probably in a new translation by Lembcke. Nov. 11, 1852, July 12, 1899.
42 times.

17. Viola. Lystspil i 5 Akter efter Shakespeare's _Twelfth Night_.
Translated and adapted by Sille Beyer. From the thirteenth performance
(Jan. 21, 1890) under the title _Helligtrekongersaften, eller hvad man
vil_. (In Lembcke's translation with music by Catherinus Elling.) Nov.
20, 1860, May 31, 1891. 30 times.

II. Nationaltheatret.

The record of the Shakespearean performances at Nationaltheatret has
been compiled from the summary of performances given in the decade
1899-1909 contained in _Beretning om Nationaltheatrets Virksomhed i
Aaret 1909-1910_. Kristiania, 1910. The record of performances
subsequent to 1910, as well as the date of the first performances of
all plays, has been found in the Journal of the theater.

1. Helligtrekongersaften. (Twelfth Night). Oct. 5, 1899. 10 times.

2. Trold Kan Tæmmes. (The Taming of the Shrew.) Dec. 26, 1900. 35 times.

3. En Sommernats Dröm. (A Midsummer Night's Dream) Jan. 15, 1903.
20 times.

4. Kjöbmanden i Venedig. (The Merchant of Venice) Sept. 5, 1906.
20 times.

5. Hamlet. Oct. 31, 1907. 17 times.

6. Othello. Oct. 22, 1908. 12 times.

7. Henry IV. Feb. 10, 1910. 10 times.

8. As You Like It. Nov. 7, 1912. This play was still being given when
the investigation ceased. Ten performances had been given.


I. The First Theater in Bergen (1850-1863)

The information relating to Shakespeare at the old theater is gathered
from T. Blanc: _Norges første nationale Scene. Bergen 1850-1863. Et
Bidrag til den norske dramatiske Kunsts Historie. Kristiania, 1884_.

1. Livet I Skoven. Romantisk Skuespil i 4 Akter efter Shakespeares
_As You Like It_. Adapted by Sille Beyer. Sept. 30 and Oct. 9, 1855.
2 times.

2. Viola. Lystspil i 5 Akter efter Deinhardsteins Bearbeidelse af
Shakespeares _What You Will_. Adapted by Sille Beyer. July 17 and 18,
1861. 2 times.

II. The New Theater at Bergen (1876)

The following data have been communicated to me by Hr. Christian Landal,
of the theater at Bergen. They have been compiled from the _Journal
(Spillejournal)_ of the theater.

1. Kjöbmanden i Venedig (The Merchant of Venice) Oct. 9, 11, 13, 1878.
Friday, June 18, 1880, the Shylock scenes, with Emil Paulsen (of the
Royal Theater in Copenhagen) as guest. 4 times.

2. Et Vintereventyr. (A Winter's Tale) April 19, 21, 25, 26, 28, 1880;
May 9, 1880; Nov. 28, 29, 1889; Oct. 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 20,
1902. 18 times.

3. Othello. Nov. 13, 16, 18, 28, 1881. 4 times.

4. Hamlet. Nov. 28 and 29; Dec. 1, 5, 19, 1886. The Ophelia scenes from
Act 4 with Ida Falberg Kiachas as guest. Sept. 12, 14, 16, 21, 1883.
Guest performance by August Lindberg and his Swedish company. Nov. 15,
1895. 10 times.

5. Helligtrekongersaften. (_Twelfth Night_) in Lembcke's translation.
Oct. 9, 12, 14, 16, 1892; April 23, 1893 in Stavanger. 5 times.

6. Romeo og Julie. May 12, 16, 19, 27, 1897. 4 times.


There have been played in Christiania seventeen plays of Shakespeare's
with a total of 540 performances. In Bergen seven Shakespearean plays
have been played with a total of 49 performances.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Errors and Anomalies Noted by Transcriber:


    _variant spellings in original_

p. 6n.
  after 1807 the history of Shakespeare in Denmark is more complicated
    _original has_ Denkmark

p. 9
  It is Coriolanus' outburst of wrath against the pretensions of the
  tribunes (III, 1)
    _original has_ 111-1

p. 15
  even to thought as sophisticated as this
    _original has_ sophiscated

p. 32
  And when we read the scenes in which Lancelot Gobbo figures...
    _spelling as in original_

p. 36
  Titania's instructions to the fairies
    _original has_ faries

p. 39
  though there seems to be little to choose between them
    _original has_ thought here

p. 43
  the Foersom-Lembcke version has become standard
    _original has_ Forsom-Lembcke

p. 50
  notably in the duke's speech
    _original has_ notaby
  (Silvius and Pippa)
    _original has_ anid

p. 51
  dialogue between Orlando and Rosalind in II, 2
    _so in original_

p. 57
  Also he has acquitted himself well
    _original has_ aquitted

p. 68
  nothing to do with the case.
    _original has_ ...with case.

p. 69
    _original has_ Moliére

p. 80
  Cassius' weakness for strong drink
    _so in original_

p. 81n.
  The Shakespearean Controversy
    _original has_ Shakespeareen

p. 82n.
  and Bierfreund, to declare
    _original has_ ...Bierfreund to, declare

p. 86
  He images Shakespeare
    _so in original_: imagines?

p. 88
  in I, 3-123 where Shylock suddenly stops after "say this"
    _original has_ I-3-1.3
    _so in original_
  Occasionally a syllable is lacking
    _original has_ Occassionally

p. 89
  Vailing her high tops higher than her ribs. (I, 1-28)
    _original has_ I-1-28

p. 95nn.
  See p. 94, note 1.
    _original has_ p. 85, note 1
  November 15, 1845 (_twice_)
    _date and year as in original_

p. 97n.
  March 22, 1858.
    _date as in original_

p. 98
  This may be added, however: A play which, according to the...
    _original has_
    This may be according added, however: A play which, to the...

p. 98
  As the piece is arranged now, Viola and her brother
    _original has_ now Viola, and

p. 102, 103
  in the magazine _Kringsjaa_.[17] .... the spirit has fled."[17]
    _duplicate footnote reference in original_

p. 103n.
  November 1, 1907.
    _original has_ 1917

p. 104
  no theater could have given a better caste
    _spelling as in original_

p. 107
  commentaries of Taine and Genée
    _original has_ Genèe

p. 108
  The caste was unexpectedly strong
    _spelling as in original_

Danish and Norwegian:

p. 2
  hvad for en Aarsag afholder
    _original has_ an Aarsag
  Mig synes der er megen Fornuft
    _original has_ Meg synes...

p. 3
  Du maae læse Testamentet for os, Cæsars Testament!
    _original has_ Cæsars Testamment

p. 7
  Maaskee I har det hørt, men da de
    _original has_ Maaskee i har...
  Slags Smil, der sig fra Lungen ikke skrev
    _original has_ Smill

p. 8
  Endskjøndt de ikke alle kunde see
    _original has_ ...ikke all kunne...

p. 10
  Der mer agtværdig er end nogensinde
    _original has_ ...en nogensinde

p. 11
  endnu citeres af Fords _Perkin Warbeck_, II, 2
    _original has_ 11, 2

p. 13
  Kinn-Ljosken hadde skemt dei Stjernor (_second occurrence_)
    _original has_ Sternor

p. 17
  og aldrig hev eg set ein Engel gaa
    _original has_ en Engel
  og gjenta mi ser støtt eg gaa paa Jori
    _original has_ Jorl

p. 19
  Trojas Murtinder Troilus besteg,
    _original has_ trojas

p. 20
  de Trolddomsurter der foryngede / den gamle Aeson
    _original has_
    ...de Troldomsurter der foryngede den / gamle Aeson
  Løb fra Venedig med en lystig Elsker
    _original has_ er lystig Elsker
  hvis jeg ei hørte nogen komme--tys!
    _original has_ komm-/tys at line break

p. 22
  Brum saa dette stolte Hierte brister;
    _original has_ brist er

p. 33
  han hadde som ein attaat-snev;
    _original has_ altaat-snev

p. 33
  "Du fenden," segjer eg, "du raader meg godt."
    _original has_ "Du fenden, segjer eg... _missing close quote_

p. 33
  "I _Soga um Kaupmannen i Venetia_
    _original has_ I, Soga um...

p. 34
  Velkomen, vandrar; hev du blomen der?
    _original has_ Velkomon
  This is all in the first selection in _Syn og Segn_, No. 3.
    _original has_ Syn og segn

p. 36
  _Fjerde Alven_:
    _original has_ Fjorde
  Til Nattljos hennar voksbein slit i fleng
    _original has_ slitt

p. 37
  so god natt og bysselull (_first occurrence_)
    _original has_ byselul
  faa vaar dronning ottefull (_first occurrence_)
    _original has_ ottefulls
  faa vaar dronning ottefull (_second occurrence_)
    _original has_ otteful

p. 41
  Her er ei liste...
    _original has_ Mónsaas

p. 42
  langt fleir enn kvinnelippur fram hev bori
    _original has_ fler

p. 44
    _original has_ Bernado

p. 94n.
  "Fortegnelse over alle dramatiske Arbeider..."
    _original has_ over all

p. 97
  saaatsige taber af sin Fylde
    _not an error_ (saa at sige)

p. 107
  Bergens Addressecontoirs Efterretninger
    _spelling as in original_

p. 110
  har været opførte paa samme
    _original has_ varet opforte

p. 110
  bearbeidet for Scenen af H. Lassen
    _original has_ bearbeidet for / for Scenen _at line break_

p. 111
  efter Shakespeares _All's Well That Ends Well_
    _original has_ after Shakespeare's...

p. 111, 112 (twice)
  Romeo og Julie.
    _normal Dano-Norse form of name_

p. 112
  Deinhardsteins Bearbeidelse af Shakespeares _What You Will_
    _original has_ Shakespeare's ]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Essay Toward a History of Shakespeare in Norway" ***

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