Literary modernism is usually defined in contradistinction to realism and naturalism, and especially in opposition to the scientific worldview on which they rest. One of the great early European modernists was Knut Hamsun, whose novel Sult (1890; tr. Hunger, 1899) offers a textbook example ofmodernism's emphasis on a distinctive imagination and attention to peculiar psychological states. Sult tells about its narrator's mental experiments as he periodically starves himselfso as to observe the effects ofstarvation on his mind.
   The decade of the 1930s was the time when modernism had its definitive breakthrough in Scandinavian literature. While such poets as the Finland-Swedish writers Edith Södergran and Elmer Diktonius had presented modernist poetry in Scandinavia quite early, the Swede Par Lagerkvist wrote both modernist poetry and prose and became one of modernism's great champions in Scandinavian literature. Modernist poetry became increasingly significant in Scandinavian literature both before and after World War II, and a number ofmodernist prose writers were also active. In addition to Lagerkvist, the Dane Tom Kristensen published his important modernist novel Hærværk (1930; tr. Havoc, 1968), and the Norwegian Cora Sandel published her Alberte trilogy, consisting of Alberte og Jakob (1926; tr. Alberta and Jacob, 1962), Alberte og friheten (1931; tr. Alberta and Freedom, 1963), and Bare Alberte (1939; tr. Alberta Alone, 1965). Other modernists of the interwar period are the Finland-Swedish novelist Hagar Olsson and the Swede Moa Martinson.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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