A literary movement that had its origins in France in the second half of the 19th century, symbolism represents a romantic reaction against realism and is often referred to as neoromanticism in Scandinavian literary history. It lays stress on the personal and emotional response to events in the life of a writer or a character, as observed in such literary works as August Strindberg's novel I havsbandet (1890; tr. By the Open Sea, 1913 and 1984) and Arne Garborg's Trætte Mænd (1891; tr. Weary Men, 1999); the latter offered a careful articulation of the difference between the scientific worldview of the 1880s, represented by the character Georg Jonathan, and the religious striving of its narrator-protagonist, Gabriel Gram. But the most clear-cut example of the new subjectivist literature was Knut Hamsun's novel Sult (1890; tr. Hunger, 1899), which tells about its narrator's experimentation with his own mind. In drama, the female psyche was probed by Henrik Ibsen in the plays Fruen fra havet (1888; tr. The Lady from the Sea, 1890) and Hedda Gabler (1890; tr. 1891), while the male mind was similarly examined in Bygmester Solness (1892; The Master Builder, 1893). In Denmark Johannes Jørgensen championed the literary ideas of the 1890s in opposition to the naturalists through his editorship of the literary magazine Taarnet (1893-1894; The Tower).

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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