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Title: Novels of Tom Kristensen
Author: Byram, Michael Stuart
ISNI:       0000 0001 0900 8277
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1975
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The dissertation consists of five chapters. The first contains a brief introduction to Tom Kristensen as a central cultural figure in Denmark in the decade 1920 to 1930. It also contains an explanation of the point of view and method used in the later chapters. It is explained that Kristensen’s novels aimed to communicate with the public and that, given this kind of work, it is useful to place it in a "literary communication paradigm" adapted from the analysis of ordinary communication. The paradigm helps to relate the work to the society and culture within which it was written, which in turn help us to a fuller understanding of the work’s meaning and significance. The emphasis is therefore very much on the work, but the method leads to accounts of the ideas and emotions of a particular section of Danish society. Such accounts go no further than the requirements for the interpretation of the novels, but they show how the novels lead into and clarify aspects of social, political and cultural life otherwise hidden. It is suggested that Kristensen first used art as a means of exploring and simultaneously sheltering from the crises and brutality experienced throughout Europe in the immediate post-1918 period, (in Livets Arabesk, 1921). Kristensen’s "use" of his art is compared with contemporary attitudes and beliefs about the artist’s social situation and purpose, and Kristensen is related to the contemporary scene. The contextualisation of the second novel (En Anden, 1923) serves above all to relate its epistemological content to an important debate running through contemporary philosophical and critical discussion. The analysis serves to draw out the authorial attitudes and these are given a particular political significance in the described context. The chapter on Hærværk attempts to show how Kristensen’s critical and artistic attitudes change in the mid-1920’s and how these indicate a change in political alignment. The analysis of the novel itself describes the formal and content patterns in the text and brings these together in a total interpretation of meaning. The account of the novel’s context then allows us to assign political significance to the meaning. The final chapter begins with an account of the conceptual and emotional development and change from novel to novel culminating in the "classic of modern Danish literature", Hærværk. As such this chapter makes explicit the links between the preceding three. It also, finally, returns to a point raised in the introductory chapter, the discussion of Tom Kristensen as a typical figure of the post-war decade. A distinction is drawn between a "typical" figure which Kristensen is not, and a "representative" figure which he is. The limitations of his work are then accounted for in terms of his representativeness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral