Edmund Gosse om Munch

I tidsskriftet i Fraser's Magazine, bd. 6 (1872), s. 443, gir den britiske oversetteren og kritikeren Edmund W. Gosse følgende vurdering av Andreas Munchs diktning i artikkelen "Norwegian Literature since 1814". 

In Cowley's comedy of The Guardian a poet is introduced, who is so miserable that everything he sees reminds him of Niobe in tears. "That Niobe, Doggrell, you have used worse than Phoebus did. Not a dog looks melancholy but he's compared to Niobe." So it is with the person that meets us next upon our pilgrimage. Nothing ever cheers or enlivens him; at the slightest excitement he falls into floods of genteel grief, and when other people are laughing he is thinking of Niobe, Andreas Munch, a son of the poet-bishop of Christianssand, was born in 1811, and through a long life has been the author of a great many lyrical and dramatic volumes. After the turmoil of Syttendemai-Poesi and the rage of the great critical controversy, it was rather refreshing to meet with a poet who was never startling or exciting, whose song-life was pitched in a minor key, and whose personality seemed moist with dramatic tears. If he had no great depth of thought, he had at least considerable beauty of metrical form, and was always "in good taste." Andreas Munch basked for a while in universal popularity. He was called "Norway's first skald," but whether first in time or first in merit would seem to be doubtful. It was not till 1846 that he published any work of real importance, and in that year appeared Den Eensomme ("The Solitary"), a romance founded on the morbid but fascinating idea of a soul that, folding inward upon itself, ever increasingly shuns the fellowship of man-kind, while the agonies of isolation rack it more and more. The scene of the story is laid in modern times, and an additional horror is by that means given to an idea which, though it would hardly have presented itself to any but a sickly mind, is carried out with skill and effect. Shortly upon this followed another prose work of considerable merit Billeder fra Nord og Syd ("Pictures from North and South") which had a great success. In 1850 he printed Nye Digte ("New Poems"), which are the prettiest he produced, and mark the climax of his literary life. The melancholy tone of these poems does not reach the maudlin, and goes no farther than the shadowy pensiveness of which the Danish Ingemann had set the example. All through life Munch was strongly influenced by the works of Ingemann, whose most consistent scholar he was. Even here, however, we feel that there is want of power and importance; these are only verses of occasion. "Miscellany Poems", as our great-grandfathers called them, the world has seen enough of; it is a grave error for an eminent writer to add to their number.

With the year 1852 begins Munch's period of greatest volubility. It would be a weariness to enumerate his works, but there are two that we must linger over, because of their extreme popularity, and because they are the very first works a novice in Norwegian is likely to meet with; I mean the dramas Solomon de Caus and Lord William Russell. The first of these was published in 1855, and caused a sensation not only in Scandinavia, but as far as Germany and Holland. De Caus was the man who discovered the power of steam, and who was shut up in a mad-house as a reward for his discovery. There is decidedly a good tragical idea involved in this story, and Munch deserves praise for noticing it. But his treatment of the plot leaves much to be desired, and a religious element is dragged in, which is incongruous and confusing. The poem is fairly good, but when so much has been written about it, praising it to the skies, one is surprised, on a closer inspection, to find it so tame and unreal. Of a better order of writing is Lord William Russell, 1857, on the whole, perhaps, the best work of Andreas Munch's, well considered, carefully written, and graceful. But there is, even here, little penetration of character, and the worst fault is that the noble figure of Rachel Russell is drawn so timidly and faintly that the true tragical heart of the story is hardly brought before us at all. Lady Russell, it is true, constantly walks the stage, but she weeps and sentimentalises, describes the landscape, and cries, "Fie, bad man!", does everything, in fact, but show the noble heroism of Russell's wonderful wife. The dialogue is without vigour, but it is purely and gracefully written; and, to give the author his due, the play is a really creditable production, as modern tragedies go. But no one that could read Ibsen would linger over Munch [...].

Andreas Munch has continued to the present date to issue small volumes of lyrics in smart succession. Gradually he has lost even the charm of form and expression, and his best admirers are getting weary of him. In truth, he belongs to the class of graceful sentimentalists that Hammond and L. E. L. successively represented with us, and but few of his writings can hope to retain the popular ear. One of his latest labours has been to translate Tennyson's Enoch Arden very prettily. Indeed, in pretty writing he is unrivalled.

Ingen kommentarer :

Legg inn en kommentar