Contemporary Danish Biographical Novel – the Genre’s Identity on the Example of Peer Hultberg’s Præludier. Joanna Cymbrykiewicz
Contemporary Danish Biographical Novel – the Genre’s Identity on the Example of Peer Hultberg’s Præludier Joanna Cymbrykiewicz Typically a biographical novel’s main concern is to present a given person’s life and highlight the milestones and achievements of the character in question, at least in the traditional Boswellian or even Stracheyan understanding of the genre.1 A problem occurs, though, when a work does not fulfill the expectation to cover the whole lifespan of the biographee and focuses on his/her childhood instead. Can the work still be treated as a legitimate member of the family called a „literary biography“? Or, does it deserve to be called a literary orphan, as it falls outside the category of biography - failing to comprise the whole life of its subject? Peer Hultberg’s (1935-2007) novel on Frédéric Chopin, Præludier (Preludes,2 1989), is an extremely rewarding subject of reflection on the issue since it constitutes a special type of a biographical novel. It hardly fulfills any of the traditional „demands“ of a biographical novel and diverts significantly from the fundamental (or traditional) demand of describing the biographee’s life from cradle to grave, made by the genetic variant of the genre.3 As Hultberg’s novel concentrates on the biographee’s childhood and ends at the outset of his adolescence, one could enquire whether the notion „biographical“ is at all justified here in the orthodox sense, which perceives a biography as linear, composed according to temporal sequence of events, and, last but not least, providing the character’s...
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