What is Scandinavian Literature Fundamentally?

If you have come to this magazine by chance and now want to understand a bit more about Scandinavian literature, these are some of the basic facts to start with.

The Definition

Scandinavian literature is made up of every orally transmitted story or tale, and all the written ones that originated in Scandinavian countries like Norway and Denmark.

The Languages

When you look for Scandinavian literature in its original language, you will find works written in all the North Germanic languages. These include Danish, Swedish, Faroese, Icelandic, which appear similar to all readers of these works.

Finland’s Special Case

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Sweden conquered and ruled over this country for over 6 centuries, resulting in Finish literature to become embedded with that of Sweden. The Finish language is not a part of the North Germanic group of languages, but rather closer to Karelian and Estonian.

It is only due to the Swedish invasion that Finland’s literature ended up being considered a part of the Scandinavian literature works.

Cultural Influences

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Reading some literary works, you will realize that the one thing they all have in common is the language similarities, as the contents themselves are vastly different between them.

Each work is expressed within the cultural context of the country it comes from, whether it is Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Faroe Islands, Sweden, or Finland. You will find stark differences in the way facts and stories are told, their set up, and the tone of the writings.

Separate Sub-Categories for Studying

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Since there are different languages and cultures in use within the realm of Scandinavian literature, they are separated for ease of study. The subcategories are Faroese literature, Swedish literature, Icelandic literature, Norwegian literature, and Danish literature.

Finland is again a special case, as the works in Swedish written in that country, are studied as a part of Finnish literature.

Mythology and Poetry

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Poetry is regarded as paramount in Norse culture, given that in their mythology Odin brought poetry to Asgard. The Old Norse poets were called skalds and regarded as high-class citizens among the Vikings, who had a great appreciation for arts and poetry.

Nordic Noir

Modern Scandinavian literature’s most famous genre is Nordic Noir, which comprises novels of crime fiction that are typically crude, raw, mysterious, and alluring for all readers. One of the most famous examples of the genre is the bestselling book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Swedish author Stieg Larsson and turned into a movie back in 2011.

However, this is only one of the Nordic Noir books that have shocked the world, as you can also find titles like The Boy at the Door, Smilla’s Sense of Snow and many others. They all have the same taboo-free writing style and will grab your attention to the very last word.

Scandinavian literature is a broad subject to discuss, with its roots in folklore and Old Norse poetry, the role played in it by history, culture, and mythology, and we could go on. Whether you want to study each subcategory separately or dive into modern Nordic Noir books, there is something for each different taste within Scandinavian literature.

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