Danish Golden Age, Denmark, European women's literature


Translator’s Note: For most readers outside of Denmark, the Danish Golden Age begins and ends with Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. At the time, however, both Andersen and Kierkegaard were outsiders in respect to the dominant cultural circle, that of the actress Johanne Luise Heiberg, her husband Johan Ludvig Heiberg, and his mother Thomasine Gyllembourg. Gyllembourg, along with Steen Steensen Blicher and Bernhard Severin Ingemann, is credited with giving Denmark its first canonical prose fiction. Despite her importance to Danish Golden Age literature and the history of European women’s literature, Gyllembourg is virtually unknown outside of Denmark, except among the Kierkegaard scholars who have read of her in the philosopher’s flattering reviews. Until now, no work by Gyllembourg has been published in its entirety in English. In my translation, I have tried to underscore the affinities Gyllembourg shares with her British contemporary, Jane Austen.