Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES


Scandinavian literatures are currently collected comprehensively. The growth of the collections in this area may be seen in the following:

1854 Astor Library809 volumes
1921 New York Public Library7,365

Danish Literature

There is a rich collection, numbering 6,500 volumes, for the study of Dano-Norwegian literature and philology. At one time the library added to its already valuable collection of early literary periodicals 21 titles covering the period 1720-1890, and later secured several more early Danish periodicals. Among the titles represented are the Danske Magazin (1794- ), Skandinavisk Museum ved et Selskab (1798-1803), Dansk Litteraturtidende (1720-1837), and Tilskueren (1884-1939). The library currently receives 4 literary periodicals from Denmark, including Perspektiv (1953- ), and Bog-Anmelderen (1945- , incomplete).

A work of world importance in Danish Medieval literature, the Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus, is in the library not only in its first printed edition (Paris, 1514) but in first editions of the translations into Italian, German, and English. Both Italian and German translations are also in the Spencer Collection.

Major Danish authors are held, for the most part, in collected editions, with many translations. In certain cases individual works are available in several separate translations, but appear only in a collected edition in the original Danish. The library has the first edition in Latin of Ludvig Holberg's Nicolai Klemii Iter Subterraneum (1741) and of the English translation entitled A Journey to the World Under-ground (1742). There are also many later editions of Holberg's plays, both in the original language and in translation, and vocal scores for operatic versions of his works. Hans Christian Andersen is abundantly represented in translations and in illustrated editions. There are also many scores, libretti, and prompt-books for musical and theatrical versions of his stories. Yiddish and Hebrew translations of Georg Brandes and Meïr Goldschmidt in the Jewish Division add to the general holdings in the original language and translations into Western European tongues.

Finnish Literature

The literature of Finland in Swedish and Finnish, both official languages of that country, is collected on a comprehensive basis; on the whole, works in Swedish are better represented, with translations into German and French. The collection of 3,250 volumes is uneven, however, the weakest holdings being for works published in the period from 1900 to 1925. General order arrangements enable the library to obtain all currently published materials in belles-lettres, and efforts have been made to fill gaps in the collections. The largest holdings are of fiction, with approximately 950 titles; there are 400 poetry and 230 drama titles.

Periodicals in both Finnish and Swedish are held in strength. Included are Finsk Tidskrift för Vitterhet, Vetenskap, Konst och Politik (1876- ), and the more specialized Kirjallisuudentutkijain Seuran Vuosikirja (1929- ), along with Toimituksia (1835- , incomplete), a publication of the Suomalaisen Kirjailisuuden Seura. As part of an extensive collection on the Kalevala,

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the Kalevalaseuran Vuosikirja (1921- , incomplete) is noteworthy.

In 1949 the Consul General of Finland presented to the library a 32-volume set of the Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot (Old Finnish Folklore) published by the Finnish Literature Society. The work contains folklore material, including epic poetry, lyrics, songs and nursery rhymes, from all Finnish-speaking districts of northern Europe.

Norse Literature (including Icelandic and Faeroese)

Some 2,200 volumes are included in the collection of Norse literature and philology. The extensive collection of some 800 sagas and 300 eddas includes facsimiles and early editions of those texts, critical works, and translations dating from the seventeenth century to the present. A feature of the holdings is the group of collected works in Ejnar Munksgaard's monumental series Corpus Codicum Islandicorum Medii Aevi, Finnur Jonsson's Norsk-isländske Skjaldedigtning, and most of the publications of Det Arnamagnaeanske Legat. Periodicals in the field in the Library are Félagsriten Gömlu (1780-89, lacking the final volume), and complete files of Ny Felagsrit (1841-73), and Safn Fraedafjelagsins (1922-43). Of interest among the English translations of the nineteenth century is The Saga Library, the joint work of William Morris and Eirikr Magnússon. In the Berg Collection is a holograph of "The Story of Magnus the Blind" with William Morris' corrections and additions, a part of Heimskringla.

Modern Icelandic literature after 1700 is not extensive, and the collection is not growing rapidly. There are some 200 fictional titles, with approximately 50 titles each in poetry and drama.

A small but significant collection of the literature of the Faeroe Islands reflects the revival of the language in the nineteenth century. There are some 20 poetry volumes, 10 volumes of drama, and 10 fiction titles. The periodical Faeroensia is available for the years 1945 onward.

Norwegian Literature

All periods of Norwegian literature and philology are represented in the library's collections, which number 3,250 volumes. Among important general periodical and society publications are the Memoires of the Kongelige nordiske Oldskrift-Selskab (1836-1933), various series of Aarbøger, and the Skrifter of the Kjeldeskriftfondet (1858- ). The library currently receives 2 Norwegian literary periodicals: Edda (1914- ), and Samtiden (1891- ).

Authors are best represented in collected editions, with a few individual works in separate editions. For the major figures of Norwegian literature, including Henrik Ibsen, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, and Sigrid Undset, the holdings are more extensive with many critical works. Literary manuscripts and first editions are not collected. Fiction and drama are the strongest aspects of the resources, with approximately 900 volumes in each category. There are about 300 poetry titles.

Norwegian-American literature can be studies in the works of such authors as Waldemar Ager and Ole Rølvaag, both in Norwegian and in English translation. The library also holds the Norwegian-American periodical Symra (1905-14).

Swedish Literature

The literature of Sweden is represented in a good collection, numbering 6,500 volumes; among histories and works of criticism few important titles are missing. Periodical and society publications are an important feature. Some of the more significant are the Redogörelse of the Kulturhistoriska Föreningen för Södra Sverige (1885- ); the Samlingar of the Svenska Fornskrift-Sällskapet (1844-62); Samlaren (1880- , incomplete); Svensk Litteraturtidskrift (1938- ), one of three complete files in the United States; and Bonniers litterära magasin (1932- ). The library currently receives five literary periodicals from Sweden.

The library has the second edition of Sveriges national-litteratur 1500-1920 (1921-22), in 30 volumes, among collected works. Holdings in drama and poetry are generally stronger than fiction, particularly for materials published before World War II. There has been no attempt to collect all editions of the individual works of major Swedish authors, the standard collected editions being considered sufficient. Literary criticism is adequate in all languages, although certain significant works of criticism are regrettably absent.

The library acquires all important translations of Swedish works into English. The most frequently translated classic is Esaias Tegnér's Frithiof's Saga; copies of some 28 separate versions in English include many presentation copies by American authors of the last century. "Children of the Lord's Supper," another translation from Tegnér by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is included in a presentation copy of his Ballads and Other Poems (1842) to William Cullen Bryant.

Holdings of Swedish-American authors are adequate, although not complete. Poetry is the strongest literary form among these works published in the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.