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Jens Peter Jacobsen


Jens Peter Jacobsen (1847 – 1885) was a poet and a scientist. Jacobsen’s canon consists of two novels, seven short stories, and one posthumous volume of poetry - small, but enough to place him as one of the most influential Danish writers.

As a boy, he showed a remarkable talent for science, in particular botany.At the same time the discoveries of Charles Darwin began to fascinate him. Realizing that the work of Darwin was not well known in Denmark, he translated The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man into Danish.

Unlike many of his colleagues Jacobsen did not take much interest in politics, his main interests being science and psychology. He is primarily an artist: his ability to create “paintings” and arabesque-like scenes both in his prose and his poetry (which has sometimes been criticized as “mannered”) is one of the secrets of his art. It has been said that his novels are a presentation of various snapshots rather than tales of action.

In 1876 He had a lot of succes with his historic-psychological novel Fru Marie Grubbe. The first novel in the history of Danisch literature in which a female protagonist is driven by instinct and desire.

In spite of his not very extensive oeuvre Jacobsen’s international influence has been quite strong. In Germany both his novels and poems were widely read and they are known to have influenced Thomas Mann, as well as the Englishman D. H. Lawrence.

Jens Peter Jacobsen

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