Carl Hansen, prairie, sketch, writer, Scandinavian America


In 1906 Ivar Kirkegaard, editor of the magazine Norden in Racine , Wisconsin, asked the writer Carl Hansen for personal information that might be included in a biographical sketch in the journal. Carl Hansen of Tyler, Minnesota, was forty-six at the time, and by his own count the author of some seventy sketches and short stories. In reply to Kirkegaard, Hansen revealed that in his student days in Copenhagen he has been caught up in the intellectual ferment of "the Modern Breakthrough," the assertive embrace by Scandinavian intellectuals of socially critical realism. "Det moderne gennembrud" had no single philosophical doctrine at its center, unless it was the belief that abstract dogmas and doctrines had to be cast aside so that one might view life and society as they actually are. Much under the influence of Henrik Ibsen, Danish writers were escaping the ivory tower of romantic idealism. In the lofty thought of Romanticism the writers of the " Breakthrough" saw a falsification of life. They found a conceited blindness to the complexity of existence in the aesthetic philosophy of previous generations of writers. It is in the realistic, combative temper of the Modern Breakthrough that we find the origins of Carl Hansen's objectivity and social conscience as a writer in Scandinavian America.