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Linné on line arrow The History of Ideas arrow Linnaeus in poetry: ... arrow Linnaeus as a priest of nature arrowThe author Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom

The author Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom


Portrait from Uppsala University Library, Section for Maps and Images.
 

It is said of Per Daniel Amadeus Atterbom (1790–1855) that as a little boy he would sit quietly reading or writing. When he was eight he had written a novel titled Alphonsus and Marina, A Tale Made by Me. When he was ten he had learnt German from his parents’ books. And of course he had read many other things, not comic books exactly, but more or less difficult philosophic texts. We can assume that he didn’t have very many peers to talk to about what he read, but in 1805—when he was fifteen—he began his studies at Uppsala, and there he found like-minded friends. Together they formed a society that they called the Aurora Association.

The name tells us somethong about what the young men intended their society to be. Aurora is the name of the godess of the sunrise in Roman mythology. Her duty is to open the eastern gates every morning with rosy fingers so the chariot of the sun can get through. The young men no doubt chose this name because they saw themselves as the ones who would open the gates for the sun. And to them the sun was beautiful and living poetry.

The 18th century’s normal way of writing was moralizing and lifeless, they felt. It was a waste of poetry, which was a spiritual primeval force and which, if it was good enough, could even transform life. A good poem, according to Atterbom and his friends, expresses feelings and moods and contains many colors and images. It should preferably be about the soul and nature and how nature and the human soul go together.

There was a strident and protracted debate about how you should write. Atterbom and his like-minded friends were on one side, and representatives of the old style were on the other. Atterbom both published his own journals and contributed to others.

Literature about Atterbom and his poetry:
E. Tykesson, Atterbom: En levnadsteckning (1954)

L. Vinge, Morgonrodnadens stridsmän (1978)

R. G:son Berg, ”Atterbom” i Nordisk Familjebok 2:a uppl. (1904)