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Wessel Johan Herman
(17421785)

Wessel Johan Herman (17421785)

Johan Herman Wessel was a major name in Norwegian and Danish literature. (Norway-Denmark being in union at the time.) Some of his satirical poems are still popular. The traditional restaurant Wesselstuen in Bergen, Norway contains many of his works as decorations. He was born and raised in Vestby, Akershus, Norway, son of a priest, and was the elder brother of mathematician Caspar Wessel. He was a relative of the naval hero Peder Tordenskjold.

Living most of his (bohemian) life in Copenhagen dependent on casual work and weakened by a bad health and drinking Wessel became the popular and admired centre of Norske Selskab ("The Norwegian Society") a very important club of Norwegian literary figures cultivating their national identity and writing in classical metres.

First of all Wessel is known for his many humorous and satiric verse tales (ed. 1784-1785), referring to mans foolishness and injustice. Most famous is Smeden og Bageren (The Smith and the Baker) about the only smith of a village who is pardonned for manslaughter since the village people need one, while a more superfluous baker is executed instead (there are two bakers, the village only needs one) in order to observe the rules that life pays life. In Herremanden (The Squire) a man coming to Hell makes unpleasant discoveries of the origin of his own son while Hundemordet (The Dog Murder) tells about wrangle about trivial things. The or "Love with out stockings" , 1774) is a biting parody of poor imitations of the French classical drama (not as often thought on French classical drama in itself); it takes place in a daily milieu of banal conflicts but observes the formal rules of heroic language. It is still performed.


Norway, 1942, Johan Herman Wessel

Norway, 1942, Johan Herman Wessel

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