In the work of writers in 1930s Denmark connected to the arts journal Linien – such as Hulda Lütken and Bodil Bech – the power and expressivity, the new, demanding ego that was given voice in Södergran’s writing, first made its mark. In their writings, inspiration from Södergran is seen as an intense provocation of the traditional late-Romantic verse language and poetic fixtures.It is tempting to say that the Södergran influence takes their writing to the verge of breakdown, whereas the third woman poet of the 1930s, Tove Meyer, lives and writes for long enough to accomplish the difficult manoeuvre out of late-Romanticism and into a new modernist style.
The start of the 1960s saw the publication of the first poetry collection by Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir who, as a modernist and a multifaceted cultural figure, has inspired both a younger generation of Icelandic female poets and poets of her own generation.Poets such as Þóra Jónsdóttir, who made her debut in 1973, and Þuríður Guðmundsdóttir, who published her first book in 1969, were, like Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir, born and brought up in the countryside, and later settled in Reykjavík, and they are, to some extent, preoccupied with the same poetic subjects. They express themselves in precisely chiselled, minimalist poems that demand the reader’s full attention.
The Icelandic author Unnur Benediktsdóttir Bjarklind chose the pseudonym Hulda, which means the subterranean, the hidden. In her early works, a battle is being fought in the young female artist’s soul between, on the one hand, the expectations of duty and family, and, on the other, the dreams and desires of the girl. In her later poems and short stories, motherhood is viewed as incompatible with freedom, art, and even true love.Hulda often draws on Norse mythology when she wishes to express conflicts between the desire for freedom and the need for security. In her first three poetry collections, she experimented with the form. Inspired by symbolist poetry, she prioritised rhythm and sonority over traditional prosody. She held on to alliteration, but varied the rhymes and the lengths of the stanzas. She became one of the pioneers of prose poetry within Icelandic literature.
When the Danish author Magdalene Thoresen let Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson publish her first book Digte af en Dame (Poems by a Lady) the ‘women’s question’ had long been a topic of political debate and a literary theme. Her oeuvre, which would soon prove to be one of the most extensive and significant of the period, addressed the issue in its own particular larger-than-life way, blending some of the most patriarchal notions of Romanticism with aspects of the new cultural departures of the decades to come.The focus of Thoresen’s works is the depiction of nature and people in the Norway that became her adopted country. Her biggest popular success was the two-volume ‘travelogue’ from the northernmost area, Billeder fra Midnatsolens Land (Pictures from the Land of the Midnight Sun). She achieved her greatest success, in the opinion of reviewers and readers, with her travel books, but these did not represent her main genre. Most of her literary output falls within two other genres: the ‘peasant tale’ and the realistic contemporary drama.
The Danish author Anna Margrethe Lasson decided to tackle the novel genre head-on by writing her own prose novel. This resulted in Den beklædte Sandhed (The Truth in Disguise), which was ready in manuscript form as early as 1715; it was published in 1723, and can thus actually claim to be the first published Nordic prose novel.“No living soul can stand to read it to the end,” wrote literary historian Rasmus Nyerup of Den beklædte Sandhed in 1828, and in the history of literature the novel has become something of a curiosity, which is only remembered because it was one of the few published Nordic pastoral novels to be written as a prose narrative.Anna Margrethe Lasson had various ambitions and ideas with her novel. She wanted to entertain her reader, demonstrate women’s writing abilities, and make her literary contribution to the national Danish language.
While the new women’s movement in the course of the 1970s brought the reader out and made her a writer, confessor, or debater in a large-scale discourse on life as a woman and gender roles, the women and men of the 1980s literary community formulated the relationship between reader and writer in other terms. The scene changed quickly and dramatically: experience and conversation were no longer at the centre; exploration and aesthetics had supplanted them.A new professionalisation of literature took place, and the young, well-educated readers were not looking for answers or validation in literature but rather experiences, temptation, beauty, and insight. And they flocked around the young poets at the well-illuminated cafés that soon replaced the old pubs and watering holes.