Dorothe Engelbretsdatter, Norwegian author, 1634–1716
By Inger Vederhus, Oslo University College
The term ”sacrifice” in religious poetry was endowed with a feminine sign in Dorothe Engelbretsdatter’s writing. Respecting the conventions of her contemporary stratified society, she was open about herself writing as a woman, especially as a mother, wife and later as a widow, and in religious terms as a sinner. One of her frequent rhetorical formulas is the formula of modesty, i.e. becoming worthy by appearing as humble. The Taare-Offer cycle is about the weeping and kissing Mary at the feet of Jesus, anointing Christ ”with the hair of her head”. By concentrating on such feminine images, Engelbretsdatter created dignified, active women so that she herself might achieve authority as a poet and professional writer. She endeavoured to be someone who supplied dignified ”sacrifices”, preaching and meditative poems which were in principle available to anyone who was able to buy and read them. In her day this was a radical thing to do, and certainly a great leap for a woman.
- Samlede skrifter, ed. by Kristen Valkner. Foreword, Laila Akselen, Inger Vederhus (Oslo: Aschehoug, 1999).
Criticism and Comparative Analysis:
- Sarah Paulsen, ‘Dorothe Engelbretsdatter: Poetess of the Baroque’, in Female Voices of the North. An Anthology. Eds. Inger M. Olsen and Sven H. Rossel (Wien: Praesens Verlag, 2002), 117–24.
- Inger Vederhus, ’“Den første “Hun Poet J Arve-Kongens Lande”. Dorothe Engelbretsdatter (1634–1716)’, in Norsk kvinnelitteraturhistorie, Vol. 1 (Oslo, 1988), pp.19–26.
- Inger Vederhus, ’“Kieck i pennen, kieck i Bleck”. Om Dorothe Engelbretsdatter’, in E. M. Jensen et al., Nordisk kvindeliteraturhistorie, Vol 1, I Guds navn. 1000–1800 (Copenhagen: Rosinante, 1993), pp. 163–175.
- For other Norwegian books and articles, see: Bibliografi over norsk litteraturforsking
AsK November 2010
- Portraits of Authors: Dorothe Engelbretsdatter >