Karl Adolph Gjellerup

Karl Adolph Gjellerup

Infobox writer
name = Karl Gjellerup

imagesize =
caption = Karl Adolph Gjellerup
birthdate = birth date|1857|6|2|mf=y
birthplace = Roholte vicarage at Præstø, Denmark
deathdate = death date and age|1919|10|13|1857|6|2|mf=y
deathplace = Klotzsche, Germany
nationality = Danish
awards = awd|Nobel Prize in Literature|1917 (shared)

Karl Gjellerup (June 2, 1857 – October 13, 1919) was a Danish poet and novelist who together with his compatriot Henrik Pontoppidan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1917. He belonged to the Modern Break-Through. He occasionally used the pseudonym Epigonos.

Gjellerup was the son of a vicar in Zealand and grew up in a national and romantic idealistic atmosphere. In the 1870s he broke with his background and at first he became an enthusiastic supporter of the naturalist movement and Georg Brandes, writing audacious novels about free love and atheism. Strongly influenced by his origin he gradually left the Brandes line and 1885 he broke totally with the naturalists, becoming a new romanticist. A central trace of his life was his Germanophile attitude, he felt himself strongly attracted to German culture (his wife was a German) and 1892 he finally settled in Germany, which made him unpopular in Denmark on both the right and left wing. As years passed he totally identified with the German Empire, including its war aims 1914-18.

Among the works of Gjellerup must be mentioned his most important novel "Germanernes Lærling" (1882, i.e. "The German Student"), a partly autobiographic tale of the development of a young man from being a conformist theologian to a pro-German atheist and intellectual. Some Wagnerian dramas show his growing romanticist interests. An important work is the novel "Møllen" (1896, i. e. "The Mill"), a sinister melodrama of love and jealousy.

Late years

In his last years he was clearly influenced by Buddhism and Oriental culture. His work "Der Pilger Kamanita"/"Pilgrimen Kamanita" (1906, i.e. "The Pilgrim Kamanita") has been called 'one of the oddest novels written in Danish'. It features the journey of Kamanita, an Indian merchant's son, from earthly prosperity and carnal romance through death and reincarnation towards nirvana.

"Den fuldendtes hustru" (1907, i.e. "The wife of the perfect") is a versified drama, inspired by Dante's "Divine Comedy", about Buddha's earthly life as Siddharta, being inhibited in his spiritual efforts by his wife, Yacodhara. The giant novel "Verdensvandrerne" (1910, i.e. "The world roamers") takes its contemporary starting point in a German female academic on a study tour in India, but evolves across chronological levels, in which characters re-experience what has happened in former eons, thus featuring souls roaming from one incarnation to another.

"Rudolph Stens Landpraksis" (1913, i.e. "The country practice of [physician] Rudolph Sten") is set in the rural Zealand of Gjellerup's youth. The main character develops from a liberal, superficial outlook on life, including youthful romantical conflicts, through years of reflection and asketic devotion to duty towards a more mature standpoint, hinting at the author's own course of life.

"Das heiligste Tier" (1919, i.e. "The holiest animal") was Gjellerup's last work. Having elements of self-parody, it is regarded his only attempt of humour. It is a peculiar mythological satire in which animals arrive at their own Elysium after death. These include the snake that killed Cleopatra, Odysseus' dog Argos, Wisvamitra (the holy cow of India), the donkey of Jesus and the horses of various historical commanders in field. The assembly select, after discussion, Buddha's horse Kantaka as the holiest of animals, but it has left without a trace to follow its master to nirvana.


In Denmark, Gjellerup's Nobel award was received with little enthusiasm. He had long been regarded as a German writer. During various stages of his career, he had made himself impopular with both the naturalist left surrounding Georg Brandes and the conservative right. His nomination for the Nobel award was, however, supported from Danish side for several times. Because Sweden was neutral during World War I, the divided prize did not arouse political speculations about partial decision, but showed on the other hand allegiance between the Nordic neighbors.

Today Gjellerup is almost forgotten in Denmark. In spite of this, however, littery historians normally regard him as an honest seeker after truth.

Gjellerup's works have been translated into several languages, including German (often translated by himself), Swedish, English, Dutch, Polish and others. "The Pilgrim Kamanita" is his most widely translated book, having been published in several European countries, the United States, as well as in Thailand where excerpts of it have been used in secondary school textbooks.


*Georg Nørregård: "Karl Gjellerup - en biografi", 1988 (in Danish)
*Olaf C. Nybo: "Karl Gjellerup - ein literarischer Grenzgänger des Fin-de-siècle", 2002 (in German)
* Article in Vilhelm Andersen: "Illustreret dansk Litteraturhistorie", 1924-34 (in Danish)
*Article in Hakon Stangerup: "Dansk litteraturhistorie", 1964-66 (in Danish)

External links

* [http://literature.nobel.brainparad.com/karl_gjellerup.html Karl Gjellerup, Timeline of Nobel Winners] , brainparad.com
* [http://base.kb.dk/adl_pub/fportraet/cv/FpPdf.xsql?nnoc=&ff_id=27 Knud B. Gjesing: "Karl Gjellerup", portrait of the author] , Archive for Danish Litterature, Danish Royal Library (in Danish) (pdf)
*gutenberg author|id=Karl_Adolph_Gjellerup|name=Karl Adolph Gjellerup

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Karl Adolph Gjellerup — Karl Gjellerup um 1890. Karl Adolf Gjellerup (* 2. Juni 1857 in Roholte; † 11. Oktober 1919 in Klotzsche bei Dresden) war ein dänischer Schriftsteller und Nobelpreisträger. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Karl Adolph Gjellerup — Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Karl Adolph Gjellerup — Karl Gjellerup (2 juin 1857 13 octobre 1919) est un poète et romancier danois qui reçut avec son compatriote Henrik Pontoppidan le Prix Nobel de littérature en 1917. Il a utilisé le pseudonyme Epigonos …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Karl Adolph Gjellerup — (n. Roholte, 2 de junio de 1857 † Klotzsche, 13 de octubre de 1919). Dramaturgo y novelista danés. Comenzó a estudiar, pero abandonó sus estudios influido, quzás, por el crítico literario danés Georg Morris Brandes. A partir de 1892 vivió en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Gjellerup, Karl Adolph — born June 2, 1857, Roholte, Den. died Oct. 11, 1919, Klotzsche, Ger. Danish poet and novelist. The son of a parson, he studied theology, but after coming under the influence of Darwinism and the ideas of Georg Brandes, he considered himself an… …   Universalium

  • Gjellerup, Karl Adolph — (2 jun. 1857, Roholte, Dinamarca–11 oct. 1919, Klotzsche, Alemania). Poeta y novelista danés. Hijo de un clérigo, Gjellerup estudió teología, pero, luego bajo la influencia del darwinismo y las ideas de Georg Brandes, se volvió ateo, lo que… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Karl Gjellerup — um 1890. „Villa Baldur in Dresden Klotzsche …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Karl Gjellerup — Karl Adolph Gjellerup Karl Gjellerup (2 juin 1857 13 octobre 1919) est un poète et romancier danois qui reçut avec son compatriote Henrik Pontoppidan le Prix Nobel de littérature en 1917. Il a utilisé le pseudonyme Epigonos. Précédé de :… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Karl Gjellerup — Karl Adolph Gjellerup (2. juni 1857 i Roholte ved Præstø 13. oktober 1919 i Klotzsche ved Dresden) var en dansk forfatter som med Henrik Pontoppidan delte Nobelprisen i litteratur i 1917 …   Danske encyklopædi

  • Adolph — [ad′ôlf΄, ā′dôlf΄] n. 〚L Adolphus < OHG Adolf, Adulf, lit., noble wolf < adal, nobility + wolf, WOLF〛 a masculine name: equiv. L. Adolphus, Fr. Adolphe, Ger. Adolf …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”