Denmark


Snow in Copenhagen
Photo of Copenhagen by Siebuhr used under a Creative Commons license.

Peter Høeg, Smilla’s Sense of Snow (Delta, 1995).

A small boy falls from the roof of Smilla Qaavigaaq Jasperson’s Copenhagen apartment building. An expert on the properties of snow and ice, she looks at the footprints and realizes that the boy ran to his death. She determines to find out who was chasing him, leading to no end of complications. Smilla is half-Danish and half-Greenlander, and the action in this thriller involves both countries. Høeg’s third novel was the first to be translated from Danish, and is more literary than most genre fiction. Also published (in the UK) as Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. Julia Ormond played Smilla in the 1997 movie, which did not get good reviews.

A flurry of reviews from Robert Nathan (The New York Times), Bridget, MagdaDH (and others), Danny Yee, Gnomey G, Isabella, John Regehr, Will, and Dave Knadler. It’s Tyler Cowen’s favorite Danish novel. And Wilson found an interesting receipt in his copy. Here is a scholarly article by Annalies van Hees called “Fiction and Reality in Smilla’s Sense of Snow.”

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Photo of Tolland Man by emeuser used under a Creative Commons license.

P.V. Glob, The Bog People (NYRB, 2004).
One spring morning in 1950, two men cutting peat in a Danish bog uncovered a well-preserved body of a man with a noose around his neck. Police were baffled until an archaeologist identified the body as that of a two-thousand-year-old man, ritually murdered and thrown in the bog as a sacrifice to the goddess of fertility. There’s very little here about modern Denmark, but an awful lot about life in northern Europe during the Iron Age. Well received when it was originally published, and now reissued by NYRB.

David Kraut reviewed the book at Bookslut. In 1991, Sarah Boxer wrote about the book’s influence on Seamus Heaney and other writers. Heaney has been rereading the book, and it has influenced other artists. William Clark offers a sort of introduction to the bog people. Two articles describes recent academic work on bog people. Via Chas. S. Clifton, Astrid catches recent archeological developments.

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