Someone should let me know one way or another, because one thing that I have not yet figured out since beginning this project is exactly how to create another blog still linked in to our group blog in some way. Maybe this is it. Maybe I'm writing this and it will enter The piece of geography that the University lays claims to in internet land and be lost forever.
In any event. This week I have primarily been focusing my research upon the history surrounding the frame of our research project, as well as focusing a bit upon Holberg himself. A few things have stood out. Primarily I spent some time reading Selected Essays of Ludvig Holberg The man, while primarily known in regards to Scandinavian Literature and Theatre, was also, during his time, known for his philosophical writings. Some of these essays are included in this collection. Some are on serious topics, others not so much. A few were quite pertinent, though I must confess to reading his ode to coffee/tea/tobacco as well, in which he defends his consumption of them and proclaims their health benefits (67).
The most interesting essay that I have read thus far has been "Good and Bad Comedies" (95). In this essay he discusses, amongst other things, that plays originally written in other languages and translated for Danish audiences have not fared well traditionally, with the exception of Molière. He claims that this has been the case, without the audience knowing, or even caring who the author of the play might be. He attributes this to the Danish audience being a more discerning type of audience than that of the Parisians. "Since in all countries Molière's comedies are considered to be masterpieces and since our Northern spectators can stomach only very few of the comedies written after Molière's time, one can be adjudge their taste to good." (95).
This series of essays are from a larger volume of essays in Danish that were released during Holbergs lifetime, though from this collection it is not made clear what essays appeared when. That having been said, it does seem to relate to the call for a truly Danish comedy, the likes of which is the focus of our topic. Having commented that many notice that the same plays are staged to frequently, Holberg dismisses by this tactic, one of the two options presented: translating the newest French and English plays. That only leaves creating new, Danish, plays as a way to answer this problem. He tells the reader that it has been done before and it can be done again. He takes this opportunity to place himself in the company of Molière, mentioning that "it is because of the applause of such [Danish] spectators that I have a good opinion of my own dramas, for I have seen them stand up against Molière's comedies in our theatre, whereas most of the translated pieces cannot do so." (97-98).
I look forward to reading some of Holberg's plays this week and seeing whether to my mind they do, in fact, stand up to Molière.
Despite this mention of his Danish plays as a positive note, this essay would seem to have been written after the "failure" of the "Danish Play" project. He does not seem to recommend translating pieces from other countries, as to him they are nearly all terrible, nor does he recommend the creation of new works. "Experience has shown that innumerable authors have tried in vain ... I cannot advise anyone to venture out into such waters" (96). As far is he is concerned, for an essay entitled Good and Bad Comedies, there are apparently only bad ones. "It may be said that from the the age of Plautus until Molière, a period of two thousand years, no drama of note of which anything is known came into being" (97).
These are no longer the words of a man who sees a strong future for the theatre.
Holberg, Ludvig. Selected Essays of Ludvig Holberg. Ed. P. M. Mitchell. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1955. Print.