July 5, 2011

Stig Dalager

Stig Dalager [Denmark]

Stig Dalager was born in Copenhagen in the post-war period of the 1950s—a time of painful remembrances of World War II, continued economic restrictions, and a growing optimism about the future. His parents were grocers throughout the 1950s and 1960s, until his father was struck by Parkinson Disease. He describes his radically changing family structure as he and his two younger brothers moved with their parents to the provincial town of Herning in Jutland, near where his father had been raised. There he graduated from high school, after which he attended the University of Århus, where he received his Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in comparative literature. It was there also where he became involved in the student movement of the 1970s. With his then fiancée, Anne Marie Mai, he wrote several books on literature, including a two volume study of Danish women writers from the middle ages to contemporary times.

In 1982 Dalager left the University of Copenhagen to live as a writer, which he has continued to do since. He has written over forty-seven books, in various genres, including poetry, fiction, drama and essays. Several of his poems and novels have been translated into other languages, and he has seen his plays staged in Moscow, New York, Berlin, and other international cities.

Dalager’s work concentrates on the existential conditions of ordinary people, with moments of psychological soul-searching expressed within a multitude of differing conditions. Dalager’s diverse gallery of characters ranges from the woman of his Sarajevo monologue, I Count the Hour to Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen in Lord and Shadow; from the dissident Count Claus Stuffenberg to Adolf Hitler in his novel To dage I juli (Two Days in July).

The poetry cycle Århaus-elegi (Aarhus eulogy) of 1986 represents his poetic breathrough. His most recent collection, Himlen åbner sig (The Sky Opens), was published in 2000. His latest work was the novel “Journey in Blue” published in 2004.

Dalager writes of his own poetry: “For me poetry gives room for a more intimate and personal reflection in an attempt to “answer” some of the changes of our times. What has particularly been of interest for me as a poet is to try to find the words for the vanitas of things in the midst of our modern lives. Having two daughters, 9 and 11 years of age, I have more and more come to see the emotions of love as the most important source of my writing.”


Opløsningstiden (Denmark: Arkona, 1982); Lindholmen station (Coppenhagen: Helka, 1985); Provinsidyl [with Peter Nielsen] (Copenhagen: Borgen, 1986); Århus-elegi (Copenhagen: Borgen, 1986); Vinter (Cophenagen: Centrum, 1987); Ansigt og årstid (Copenhagen: Borgen, 1988); Hjernen er en rød station (Copenhagen: Brøndum, 1989); Floden under huset (Copenhagen: Borgen, 1992); Wienerdage (Copenhagen: Borgen, 1994); Og du skal vågne igen (Copenhagen: Per Kofod, 1996); Himlen åbner sig (Cophenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 2000).

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