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Litanic Verse II

Britannia, Germania et Scandinavia

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Edited By Witold Sadowski, Magdalena Kowalska and Magdalena Maria Kubas

The book contains comparative analyses of the development of litanic verse in European poetry, from medieval to modern times. Litanic verse is based on different syntactic devices, such as enumeration, parallelism, anaphora and epiphora. However, it is not to be seen merely as a convention of versification as the popularity of different variants of the verse in Europe reflects the religious, intellectual, social and political history of various European regions. The essays in the second volume focus on litanic verse in the Germanic languages. They discuss predominantly the literatures of Protestant countries (Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, Norway), but also Austrian poetry.

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“Norway, Norway…” From the End of the Eighteenth to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

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Asked about the litany, a Norwegian reader might find it difficult to apply the term to native literature — not only because of its connection with Catholicism, but also because in Norwegian culture litanic remnants were hidden under the cover of the Protestant psalmic tradition. In Norwegian studies on verse and poetics, litanic verse is similarly non-existent: entries on the “litany” or “litanic” are not to be found in books such as Inn i diktet,1 Lyriske strukturer,2 Norsk verslære3 and Versekunsten: rytme og rim.4 The outline presented below will therefore be based on the concept of the “litany undercover,” introduced earlier.

The year 1814 brought important changes in Norwegian history, which find their reflection in the field of literature, which had previously been utterly dependent on the influence of Copenhagen. It was in 1814 that the national identity began to be forged due to the separation of Norway and Denmark after a 434-year union. It is worth mentioning, however, that it was in the 1770s that Norwegian national literature began developing. In 1772 Norwegian students in Copenhagen established a club called Det Norske Selskab (The Norwegian Society). During their discussion meetings socio-political issues were raised and questions were asked about the essence of “Norwegianness,” i.e. a common national awareness which was not spoken of before that time.5 A country long dominated by agriculture and local life was now open to western influences — especially those of German and French philosophy and literature.6 Still, the country...

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