Multi-ethnic, Indigenous, and Intertextual Dialogues in Drama
Edited By Dorothy Figueira and Marc Maufort
Steven P. Sondrup Thoughts on the Origin of Nordic Drama 15
Thoughts on the Origin of Nordic Drama Steven P. SONDRUP Brigham Young University At the mention of Scandinavian drama, thoughts of many will almost automatically turn to the two towering giants of the nineteenth century, Ibsen in Norway and Strindberg in Sweden. With the possible exception of Ludvig Holberg, a Danish academic, satirist, and dramatist writing in the first half of the eighteenth century, dramatists of such renown at home and abroad have never been known in Scandinavia. Even during their lifetimes, their plays were performed all over the world, and they exerted enormous influence on contemporary theatrical practice. The impact they had is still abundantly apparent in the theater today as well as in cinematic techniques many of Strindberg’s dramas adumbrate. Although extremely prominent by any standard, they are heirs to the theatrical traditions that had been developing on the Continent since Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and had made their way to the northern fringe of Europe in the performances of traveling companies and the contact church-related and royal drama had with the rest of Europe. My intention is not to trace the trajectory that broadly European practices followed as they migrated northward across Europe, but rather to examine sources native to the region that might profitably be read as early manifestations of drama. The texts I wish to propose as origins of Indigenous and thus obviously non-Aristotelian drama are those usually called the poems of the Poetic Edda, The Elder Edda, or the Saemundr Edda. All three names...
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