Aarhus Universitetsforlag

Mythology and Nation Building

N.F.S. Grundtvig and His European Contemporaries

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384 pages
ISBN 978 87 7184 626 3

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About the book

Stories of gods, heroes and monsters permeated discourses of national selfhood in the nineteenth century. During this tumultuous time, Europe’s modern nations arose from the misty waters of long-forgotten national pasts – or so was the perception at the time. Each embedded in their particular national and political contexts, towering cultural figures – N.F.S. Grundtvig, Jacob Grimm, Jonás Halgrímsson, William Morris, Adam Oehlenschläger and many more – were catalysts for the formation of national discourses of belonging, built upon the mythological story-worlds of Europe’s non-classical vernacular pasts.

This interdisciplinary book offers new perspectives on the uses of pre-Christian mythologies in the formation of national communities in nineteenth-century Northern and Western Europe. Through theoretical articles and case studies, it puts forth new understandings of how cultural thinkers across Europe utilized pre-Christian mythologies as symbolic resources in the forging of national communities. Perceptions of national identity were thus shaped, many of which are still at play today.

Press reviews

JoAnn Conrad, Folklore
"Reviewed together, the chapters in these books are illuminating to the general reader because they reveal the ways in which Romantic Nationalism played out quite differently at the periphery of Europe, as they also point to the ideological potency of mythology, no longer the exclusive purview of religious studies and folklore."

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