July 30, 2011


Paal Brekke

Profil Group (Norway)

In the mid 1960s, Norway's writers became increasingly politically conscious, and were determined to bring Norwegian literature abreast of the rest of European literature. Profil would eventually become the most notable literary magazine.

To achieve their goals of radicalizing the writing of Norway, the writers of this journal rebelled against the traditional psychological fiction and poetry. The question of the true identify for the modern state was core. Dag Solstad contributed significantly to this late 60-figures modernism through his articles, essays and literary works.

Although poetry had already begun exhibiting a modernist style through the 1950's and early 60s, young poets sought a break with the traditionalists who still wrote in fixed stanza forms. The younger poets targeted replacing the 50s-style symbolism, and Jan Erik Vold was at the forefront of this insurgency. Profil poetry introduced a new simplicity, concretism, and use of everyday language.

Paal Brekke was particularly noted for promoting modern European poetry, both as poet and critic. He argued for a renewal of Norwegian poetry, and spread knowledge of foreign literature through translations of English modernist writers like T.S.Eliot. In the mid 1950s Brekke participated in the debate on lyrical form, and opposed AndrĂ© Bjerke and Arnulf Ă˜verland in the so-called Glossolalia debate. Among the established lyrists, Olav H. Hauge transitioned to modernistic and concretist poetry and enjoyed a renaissance, especially with his collection entitled Dropar in austavind, which inspired other, younger Norwegian poets, such as Vold.

After a short period the Profil group went separate routes, as authors such as Dag Solstad, Espen Haavardsholm, and Tor Obrestad turned to the newly formed party Workers' Communist Party (Arbeidernes kommunistparti or AKP), and become involved in formulating a new political program that based on the view that literature should serve the working people and their uprising against capitalism. Arild Asnes Solstad's 1970 is a key novel to understanding the desire of the modern intellectual to connect with something larger and more realistic – the working people and a cause.

--Douglas Messerli

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