Nu vil jeg fortælle Jer mere – Fortællingen om Uglenspeil fra folkebog til roman
Keywords:Danish novel, 18th century studies, the novel genre, fictionality, Volksbuch (folkebog), Carl August Thielo, Tiile Ugelspegel, The Young Uglenspeil, or the Person who was brought up badly.
Now I will tell you more – The story of Uglenspeil from the Volksbuch to the Novel.
“Nu vil jeg fortælle Jer mere – Fortællingen om Uglenspeil fra folkebog til roman” [Now I will tell you more – The story of Uglenspeil from the Volksbuch to the Novel] addresses one of the most frequently debated matters in the historiography of the novel, namely the question of continuity and rupture: did the novel grow out of earlier forms, or rise as a profoundly new genre? Whereas the question of legacy informs the historiography on the English novel, there are surprisingly few investigations of the 18th century Danish novel and its relation to previous literary forms. This article investigates the relationship between the novel and the most widely read literary genre before the novel in Denmark, namely the volksbuch. It does so through a comparative analysis of Carl August Thielo's novel Den Unge Uglenspeil, eller det slet opdragne Menneske [The Young Uglenspeil, or the Person who was brought up badly] (1759) and the Volksbuch Tiile Ugelspegel (1669) (in Jacobsen, Olrik and Paulli 1930). These works are particularly informative for understanding the relationship between the two genres as Thielo’s novel is built on – and at the same time comments on – the earlier genre. The article argues that the differences between the texts concerning fictionality, narrative techniques, structure, and their levels of reflections are so fundamental that the novel cannot be regarded a genre that simply grew out of the former. Especially with regard to fictionality, it becomes clear that the volksbuch and the novel are two very different genres. Whereas the novel comes to admit its own fictional status, the volksbücher were perceived of and intended to be taken as true stories. For those reasons, the article concludes that compared to previously most popular prose genre in Denmark, the Danish novel is to be considered a profoundly new genre.
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