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not only because Geijer here stood on German feet, but because
the new forms were old. Atterbom adopts his customary
method and compares, briefly, the Norse myths with those of

i Fosforos, 1811, p. 177. Cf. above, note 3, p. 34. For whole review,
see pp. i77ff.



41

India and Greece. He looks at his Scandinavian ancestors
here from an historical, political and ethical standpoint also.
His forefathers were fighters because fighting was, historically,
a part of their moral and religious conviction; the old Goths
had a "restless fighting virtue and faith in warlike gods." 1
And, he avers in his spirit of a Rousseauite, if the (political)
states are to become what they once were, the age of mythol-
ogy must return. 2 In the recension of the Swedish translation
of Nyerup's Edda, 3 Atterbom says he has been "pleasantly"
superseded by Iduna and lauds the thorough description in it
of the relation between superstition, myth and religion. Here,
however, our Fosforist has a tendency again to become philo-
sophical and obscure. In regard to translations from the Ice-
landic he is sensible and self-critical; he admits willingly his
own linguistic limitations. He says very little about these for
he confesses too great a weakness in Icelandic to compare them
intelligently with the original, 4 and this in itself is a feature
of Atterbom's interest which points in the right direction.

We have described the nature of the interest in the saga ele-
ment in F os for os, as it was exemplified in the leader of the
Fosforists, Atterbom. It consisted (i) of enthusiastic reviews
of modern Scandinavian literature based in any way on Scan-
dinavian antiquity, (2) of sympathetic announcements of saga
literature which had appeared in Denmark, and (3) of an
original poem by Atterbom, accompanied by a detailed and
philosophic commentary on Norse mythology. Henceforth the
last of these three -drops out; i. e., there is no more original
"Gothic" poetry by a genuine Fosforist. In 1813 Forsforos
died and was replaced by another annual, Svensk Litteratur-

iFosforos, 1811, p. 183.

2 Ibid., p. 183.

3 Nyerup's Edda had appeared in Copenhagen in 1808. It was trans-
lated into Swedish by Jakob Adlerbeth and published in Stockholm, 1811.
In regard to Nyerup's Edda, Atterbom writes to Hammarskjold, February
4, 1811 : "If Nyerup's Edda is for sale in Stockholm, buy a copy for me a
tout prix." See Frunck: " Bref," IV, p. 229. And, again, on May 5, iS'ii,
to the same friend : " It pleases me beyond description that Adlerbeth's
Edda has appeared. Would to God that it were only here." Frunck :

Bref," IV, p. 301. There is no lukewarmness about such expressions.
* Fosforos, 1811, p. 182.



42

Tidning. In this organ the interest in the saga age is limited
to announcements and reviews. That Atterbom did not write
another "Skaldarmal," as he had intended to do, 1 must be due,
in part, to his activities along other lines of his cult, and to the
appearance of other literary men and women, most of them
members of the Gothic Society, who now sought to cover this
national part of the field. And so, for the present, the future
historian of Swedish literature began to lay the foundation for
his "Swedish Seers and Skalds" (Svenska siare och skalder)
by a systematic study of old Scandinavian monuments, the
fruits of which could only appear very much later. He fos-
tered the Gothic movement, temporarily, by a consistently ex-
pressed sympathy and by the writing and editing of occasional
reviews.

As an illustration of the " consistently expressed sympathy,"
I need only cite the Fosforists' abiding attitude toward Iduna,
as we find it in Svensk Litteratur-Tidning, and for which Atter-
bom and Palmblad are jointly responsible. And it was not a
lukewarm, polite formality, for politeness in literary matters
at the time was out of fashion, but it was a real interest. The
same policy adopted by Fosforos was continued in its successor.
The review of the fourth number of Iduna, for instance, is
extremely favorable: "With warm and hearty joy the reviewer
announces a new number of this excellent periodical, which
has contributed so much to awaken a love among our country-
men for our ancestors' hardy era, and has called attention to
the only means whereby it might return with higher potency." 2
Then the Gothic organ is eulogized for its " manly enthusiasm "
for all that is good and beautiful, and is criticized intelligently
at great length. When the second edition of Iduna for 1811
had appeared, Svensk Litteratur-Tidning came out at once 3
with a retrospect of Iduna's work. The former numbers, we
are told, had had better original poetry, but the more recent
ones more valuable results of antiquarian investigations. Eu-
logistic adjectives like excellent (fortrafBig) and superb

1 Cf. above, pp. 37-38, and note i.

2 Svensk Litteratur-Tidning for October 23, 1813, No. 42.

3 November 13, 1813, No. 45.



43

(ypperlig) are plentiful and give the tone of the resume.
The fifth number of Iduna is hailed by the Fosforists' organ
as a " precious gift " which has again been given to the public, 1
and the sixth number 2 as a "useful" contribution. In the
same organ for iSip 3 Iduna is mentioned as one of the period-
icals of the New School, and the eighth number 4 is character-
ized as the " clearest celestial signs " which appear on the con-
temporary horizon of Swedish letters; the reviewer is afraid
he cannot find anything blameworthy in the " Fragments of
' Frithiofs Saga ' which now appeared in Iduna."

And not only Iduna but all of the important Gothic produc-
tions received an almost disproportionately large amount of
attention in Svensk Litter atur-Tidning. It is this generosity
of space devoted to reviews of national poetry that I wish to
emphasize. The review of Ling's "Gylfe" (edition of 1812,
Lund) runs through three numbers (No. 8 of February 27;
No. 10, March 15; No. 12, March 27, 1813 ), and that of "Gefion,"
by Fru d'Albedyhll, two numbers (numbers 23 and 24
for June n and 18, 1814). Granberg's "Jorund" is lashed
for maltreatment of saga sources through two numbers (num-
bers 20 and 21, 1814), and Geijer and Afzelius get two num-
bers full of commendation for their folksongs in 1815 (num-
bers 45, 46, for nth and i8th November). Count v. Skjolde-
brand gets due attention for an heroic poem in ten songs, enti-
tled " Odin." 5 Rask's review of Hammarskj old's publication
of the Jomsvikinga Saga appears in number 14 (April 5) for
1817, the number for May 3 (No. 18) of the same year con-
tains a review of eight songs of Ling's " Asarne " by the same
eminent Dane, and Ling's " Eddornas sinnebildslara " is hon-
ored with 31 pages (pp. 545~575> numbers 35 and 36) in 1820.
The editors are very generous, also, in the space allotted to an-
nouncements of books on Icelandic topics, or to translations

1 October i, 1814, No. 39.

2 July 6, 1816, No. 27.

3 P. 441.

4 Reviewed in Svensk Litter atur-Tidning for 1820, pp. 769^., 78sff.,
8oiff. and 8i7ff.

5 Stockholm, 1816. Reviewed in Svensk Litter atur-Tidning, No. 48, for
November 30, 1816,



44

from Old Norse. 1 Finally, in 1824, four numbers (57-60)
are devoted to the recent dramatic works of Ling. 2

It would be futile to give a review of all these recensions;
the fact that they are there in conspicuous length is what is
important for our purpose. It will be seen, however, that after
about 1813 the nature of the study of ancient Scandinavian cul-
ture necessarily changed, even for the Fosforists. What had
appeared in print before that time had been more a study and
eulogy of Norse mythology in general and a rather indefinitely
focused enthusiasm for all former ages ; now, when individual
sagas began to be translated or employed as the basis for poetic
experimentations, the attention of the critic had to be concen-
trated on specific mythical or heroic sagas. The reviews, there-
fore, become scrupulously critical and exhaustive. For exam-
ple, in Atterbom's somewhat prejudiced criticism of Granberg's
"Jorund" (which we shall treat in detail in the next chapter)
a great deal of the unmerciful attack is directed pointedly
against the distortion of the historical Jorund as 'described in
the original source: the Ynglinga Saga by Sturleson. This
called for specific information. But we shall see that Atter-
bom had more than kept up with his contemporaries, was well
prepared to review any saga-product that might appear, and
certainly knew more about the individual sagas than some of
those who used them in their poetry. And so his criticisms
become real, erudite supplements to the original, and in some
cases he adds valuable material which has no direct bearing
upon the specific topic treated. This is the case with his above-
mentioned recension of " Gefion " by Charlotta d'Albedyhll,
which tells us as much, if not more, about Atterbom than it
does about the authoress of the original poem. 3

1 Cf. review of Afzelius's translation of " Edda Saemundar hinns Froda,"
pp. 6sff., 97ff. Review of G. G. Liljegren's edition of " Svenska fornal-
drens hjeltesagor," pp. 129, 209, 241, 593, and (3) review of " Svenska
folksagor," edited by H(ammarskjol)d and I(mmeliu)s, Stockholm, 1819,
pp. 4496*. All these in annual for 1819.

2 " Blot-Sven," " Injalld Illrada," " Wisburs Soner " and " Styrbjorn
Starke."

3 Cf. next chapter, where analysis of " Gefion " is given.



45

This review, 1 which I shall take as an illustration, is prefaced
by an exposition of the transition from Scandinavian literature
in general to the beginning of Swedish literature in particular.
It is the preface that I desire to mention here, as showing
Atterbom's progress in his studies of early Scandinavian litera-
ture and history. As in " Skaldarmal " the tone of regret for
a contemporary lack of interest in primitive Sweden is present
here also, but it is a regret in the light of historical develop-
ment. The original "Norrana-language" was preserved among
the " republican and historically-minded Icelanders of Iceland,"
while Christian sentiment destroyed almost all traces of heathen-
ism in Sweden. 2 The old letters disappeared probably before
the language, yet the sound of "Gothic drapa" (drapa, a song
of praise for a king) did not cease to vibrate in Sweden until
after the middle of the fourteenth century, when Birger Jarl
and his son, Magnus Ladulas, reigned, and when their court-
skald Sturle Thordarson lived. 3 But from now on the old lan-
guage was not understood. Swedish had become isolated and
independent, no more skalds appeared in Sweden, and Ice-
landers stayed away for the very reason that they could not be
well understood. The Ynglinga-dynasty died out in Norway
in 1319, and then after the passing of the Norrana-Skald the
knowledge of the Old Norse sagas in Sweden became hazy.
The Danes had Saxo, who wrote an invaluable historical work
in Latin, which, in spite of its faults, is as accurate as we can
expect from a Catholic clergyman. 4 But the Swedes had no
Saxo to collect material where such was to be had, and so it
was not until the middle of the seventeenth century that they
knew anything about their ancestors' life and art, except that
they were "blind heathens and worshipped three idols, whose
names were Thor, Odin, and Frigga." 5 Then Atterbom criti-
cizes previous historians ; Lagerbring was really the " father

1 Printed also in Atterbom: " Litterara karakteristiker," Orebro, 1870,
pp. 115-135- References will be made to this edition, which is more
accessible.

2 Cf. ibid., p. 115.

3 Ibid., p. 1 1 6.

4 Ibid., p. 1 1 8.

5 Ibid., p. 119.



46

of Swedish history," but had no sense for mythology and
poetry; Von Dalin was superficial, misunderstood these, and
soon led others astray, so that antiquarian and fantastic pedant
became synonymous terms. 1 In this same preface Atterbom
pays tribute to the work of Verelius and Rudbeck the Elder,
of the seventeenth century, showing that he had already com-
menced the foundation for his later exhaustive characterization
of these men. 2

But Atterbom is still a typical Fosforist and after seven pages
of history there follows an introductory eulogy 3 of the au-
thoress of " Gefion " and her art, in a language which in spirit
reminds one strongly of the Prolog in Fosforos. It is a mix-
ture of Fosforism and Gothism. There is talk of the " heav-
enly ability of poetry " and the idea is set forth that the sanc-
tum sanctorum of man, the "pure feeling of the eternal, is
expressed in the genius of music." Therefore, why should not
daughters of these [ancestral] heroines follow the example of
their mothers when " maternal sound of harps has returned to
their mountainous region" (fjellbygd). We must cope with
Germany and Denmark unless we wish to feel ashamed of our-
selves. Iduna (the goddess of eternal youth; wife of Brage,
god of poetry) had returned to Sweden, "the golden shimmer
of her rejuvenating apples has begun already to beautify the
new dawn of Sweden's internal independence." 4 The spirits
of the Norrana-song descend into their former sacrificial
groves, "and so it ought not to astonish (us) if the women of
the North share the flame which Urda 5 has lit in the hearts of
Northmen. They have not forgotten that their mother Freya
was generated by the element of yearning 6 or that her relatives,
the maidens of the sea, praised the blissful secrets of the wave
with string-instrument and song." Then after mention of
Brynhilda, Aslaug, and Gudruna, he finally gets to the criticism.

1 Ibid., p. 121.

2 Cf. pp. 19-20 of Introduction.

3 Ibid., pp. 1 2 1-2.

4 Ibid., p. 121.

6 Urda generally conceived as the Norn of the Past. But see Sunden :
Oversikt av nordiska mytologien, p. 22.

6 See above in characterization of notes to " Skaldarmal," p. 35.



47

In true scientific style Atterbom gives first the complete
original of the Gefion Saga, 1 and gives it correctly. He makes
now a sharp distinction between pure mythology and saga, and
pronounces " Gefion " more allegorical than historical. He
calls attention to the mistake of confusing Allfather with Odin.
Odin was the son and instrument of Allfather and was limited
in time and space. He was the product of Fjolner (the con-
cealed) and Fimbultyr (the incomprehensible divinity) . 2 Much,
again, is made of the myth of Freya; she is the allegory of
Northern love, and then the Romantic idea is set forth that
poets are chosen as interpreters of " inner models of love." 3
The tone of the whole review is extremely flattering; Atter-
bom lauds the fervor of the authoress for arousing interest in
the Asa-myths in Sweden, and praises the first song of
" Gefion " as a complete masterpiece, consisting of scenes and
groups which together " form the most beautiful picture that
Swedish poetry up to this time has given of Northern mythol-
ogy." 4 It is interesting to note that Atterbom defends the
superabundance of kings and nobles in the poem. Most of us
would like to claim counts and kings as ancestors, is the frank
opinion of Atterbom, and he has little respect for those that
would not. 5

One evidence of Atterbom's interest in the saga element is
his increasing study of Fouque and enthusiasm for his " Sigurd
der Schlangentodter " (1808). This evidence we find in At-
terbom's reviews in Svensk Litteratur-Tidning. In connection
with the form of " Gefion," Atterbom adds : " Fouque has by
mighty efforts already proved the possibility of fulfilling the
requirements of Icelandic verse-structure. Its wonderful
rhythms, assonances, and alliterations possess a bewitching
power which now resembles the Dwarf -mal (mat, song) of
mild valleys, now the roar of storms and mountain torrents,
mingled with the clang of swords against the shields of Val-

1 See Ynglinga Saga by Sturleson, Chap. 5.

2 Sunden gives the meaning of Fimbultyr as equivalent to God of the
runes and attributes this quality to Odin himself. See " Oversikt," p. 30.

3 " Karakteristiker," p. 135.
* Ibid., p. 127.

5 Ibid., pp. 130-1.



48

kyrs." 1 In another review, 2 Atterbom compares the French
classical tragedies of Corneille and Racine with the treatment
of Norse sagas by Fouque : " What can that kind of tragedies
and epopees, of which the French boast so much, furnish to the
Scandinavians, who possess a primeval antiquity which has
descended from gods, and who possess heroic sagas with such
a wealth of tragic depth and inner beauty in their composition,
that no race on earth can show anything comparable? Take
all such works as those of Corneille (Corneillerier) and Racine
(Racineader) put together: What are they in comparison with
a single Volsunga-and-Niflunga Saga, treated by Fouque ! " 3
Again, in connection with his recension of the eighth number
of Iduna; "Why is this heroic drama (hjeltespel, meaning
' Sigurd der Schlangentodter '), the most powerful and most
beautiful of all Fouque's works, still so little known among
the youth of Sweden? Neither this nor its Urtext, such as it
is found in the Volsunga Saga in Bjorner's ' Norse Tales of
Combat' (Nordiska kampadater), should be missing on the
book-shelf of anyone who claims to have a spark of love for
Northern literature and poetry." 4

In the annual Poetisk Kalender (1812-1822), edited chiefly
by Atterbom, there are several poems of strictly national char-
acter, but not many which deal with the Scandinavian saga-
age. The viking element is incidental, and is general rather
than specific. No individual Icelandic sagas are dealt with,
but motifs are often taken from indigenous popular tradition
or saga and assume, then, a ballad-like character. Such is
Afzelius's metrical romance " Var-Ulfven," the story of a
lover who must pass fifteen years in the "dark forest" as a
wolf (ulf 5 ), and is based on a folk-saga from Southern Sweden.

1 Ibid., p. 133. Atterbom refers, of course, to such imitations of the
highly diversified Icelandic verse-structure, as are found interspersed in
" Sigurd."

2 Review of " Svenska akademiens handlingar if ran ar 1796. Femte
delen."

3 " Karakteristiker," p. 198.

4 Ibid., p. 266, and note. The modern critic, I think, would hardly agree
with Atterbom that Fouque's " Sigurd " is more beautiful than " Undine."
The exaggeration speaks for itself.

5 Poetisk Kalender for 1813, pp. 3;ff.



49

Atterbom sings of a proud mermaid who captures a sweetheart
of the shore, 1 Julia Nyberg (Euphrosyne) invents a historical
romantic ballad on the basis of an inscription upon a newly
discovered runestone, 2 and in " The Viking Maid " ( Vikings-
tarnan) the heroine sees from the shore her lover Ivar find a
grave in the waves and then joins him. 3 Often the interest
in antiquity takes the form of a poetic eulogy of those who
have treated Old Norse material in some substantial way. The
Kalender for 1815 contains two sonnets; one is entitled "The
Last Runestone" (Den siste runstenen) and, from what we
are told in a note, 4 is an indirect tribute to the Swedish anti-
quarian Rudbeck (the Elder) and Verelius; the other,
" Gefion," 5 is, of course, a direct recognition of the above-
mentioned Eleonora Charlotta d'Albedyhll. "The North"
(Norden) from the German byAmalia v. Helvig, and put into
Swedish by G(umaeliu)s, is steeped in northernism, Swedish
superstition, and Norse mythology. 6 In "Upon the Heights
of Uppsala" (Pa Upsala hogar), dated May 15, 1816, Atter-
bom seizes the opportunity for a solemn poetic reflection upon
old times, when the maiden "went up in flames hand in hand
with her bethrothed." 7 In some lyrics, terms from Norse my-
thology are employed merely for external ornamentation and
color; such are " Freya's Spinningwheel " (Freyas rock), by
Hammarskjold, and "The Warrior in the Northern Forest"
(Kampen i nordanskog), by Inge-1-gre-n. 8

i"Hafsfrun" in Kalender for 1813, pp. 6gff.

2 Cf. " Skattgrafvaren och brudsmycket " in Kalender for 1820, pp. SgS.,
and note, p. 89.

3 Kalender for 1821, pp. 54ff.

4 Andra upplagan, p. 69. It is signed S ++ .

5 Ibid., p. 90, signed H. R.

6 Kalender for 1821, pp. 24 iff.

7 Kalender for 1817, p. 80; Poem, pp. 79-81.

8 Kalender for 1812. Tredje upplagan, pp. 58-59, and annual for 1813.
Tredje upplagan, pp. 65-67, respectively. "Freyas Rock." " Rock," appar-
ently for " Spinnrock," is the name of the constellation Orion in southern
Sweden. See note, annual for 1812, p. 58. The last strophe of Ham-
marskj old's poem is a good example of Norse dress :

Sant Broder ! Forstummad ar Baldurs mun,
Och mer dricker Odin ej Mimers brunn
Och Valhallas murar de stortas i kras ;
Men Freya hon spinner annu.



50

In an honest, straightforward, confessional preface to the
second edition of Poetisk Kalender for 1812-1813, dated June
9, 1816, we have further evidence of Norse sympathies. At-
terbom himself is there speaking of his past encouragement
from a small circle of literary sympathizers : " This circle ex-
isted, it expanded, and soon Iduna appeared, which showed
even the more skeptical that the foundation for the re-birth of
the new culture lies in the original Swedish sense of kinsman-
ship. 1 . . . The spirit of our pious, simple folksongs, as well
as of our gigantic heathen monuments (urminnen), begin at
last to be comprehensible, even to ourselves, since they have
long been so to our kinsmen. 2 Novalis, Tieck, Oehlenschlager,
and Fouque have introduced us into their magic world of eter-
nal love and unwithering youth, of loyal heroic power and
victorious renunciation." 3

In Poetisk Kalender for 1817 we get an interesting glimpse
of a somewhat different phase of Atterbom's Norse studies.
This volume contains "The Songs of Selma" (Sangerna i
Selma), a " Fantasy from Ossian." They are not translations,
but rather free adaptations in Swedish. These are followed
immediately by twenty pages 4 of remarks on the character and
problems of Ossian, and deal briefly with the viking element
in the Ossian poems. In so doing, he takes issue with Mac-
pherson in a matter of chronology. According to Atterbom
I am only giving his views Fingal must have lived "at or
shortly after, the days of Harald Fairhair" (863-936) , 5 and
bases his claim upon chapters 20 and 22 of the Heimskringla
by Sturleson. It was during the reign of Harald Fairhair that
the many viking expeditions and emigrations to Iceland, Scot-
land, and the Orkney Islands took place. "Harald himself
conquered the Orkney Islands, ravaged the coast of Scotland," 6
and went as far as the Isle of Man ; and Sigurd, the Earl of
the Orkneys, took possession of Caithness and Sutherland.

1 Poetisk Kalender for 1812-13, Tredje upplagan, p. iv.

2 Ibid., p. xvii.

3 Ibid., pp. xvii-xviii.

4 Ibid., pp. 30-49, for 1817.
6 Ibid., p. 43.

6 Ibid., p. 44.



51

" One knows that these islands for a long time were under the
dominion of Norway; but not until the reign of Harald Fair-
hair (see Saga, Chap. 20) were they discovered and settled, as
was Iceland, by mighty emigrating races/' 1 These are the his-
torical facts as Atterbom gives them to us, and he follows Stur-
leson religiously. 1 Now, in view of these facts, Atterbom rea-
sons and it must be admitted plausibly that before this time
(of Harald Fairhair) Fingal could not have lived; because the
Orkney Islands and those islands situated between Scotland
and Norway are in Ossian controlled by worshipers of Lo-
duinn (Odin), who seem plainly to stand under the supreme
rule of the kings of Scandinavia (Lochlin), or at least in imme-
diate relation with Lochlin." 2

Atterbom took an interest in folklore. Following the ex-
ample of Brentano and Arnim in " Des Knaben Wunderhorn,"
and encouraged by the examples of his fellow-countrymen,
Geijer and Afzelius, whose folksongs had begun to appear in
1814, Atterbom published a collection of folk-lore in Poetisk
Kalender for 1816. The group of songs itself is, to be sure,
not very remarkable and it is not a large group. The two divi-
sions of ballad-like " romances " and those of a more distinctly
lyrical character occupy only 119 pages in a pocket-size volume.
Nor are they very important for us, since the oldest romances
are taken from the fifteenth century and the pure " songs " are,
for the most part, from the comparatively modern period of
Gustavus Vasa (1521-1560) and his sons and from the seven-
teenth century. 3 But, as we might expect from Atterbom's
usual method, his collection is prefaced by a lengthy discourse
on European and Scandinavian folklore, about the sources of
his own songs, about the fundamental differences between
Northern and Southern poetry, and about the perfectly natural


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