Alf Larsen

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Alf Larsen (22 July 1885, Tjøme – 12 December 1967) was a Norwegian poet, essayist and magazine editor.

He made his literary debut in 1912 with the poetry collection Vinterlandet. He supported Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy, and edited the magazine Janus from 1933 to 1941. He co-founded the publishing house Dreyers forlag in 1942.[1][2] He was awarded the Gyldendal's Endowment in 1959.[3]

Larsen himself considered his magazine Janus to be his most valuable contribution to Norwegian cultural life. There he presented what in hinsight stands out as a surprisingly clear-sighted criticism of nazi-Germany, and he also drew attention to the pre-nazistoid tendencies in the work of Norway's greatest writer, Knut Hamsun. Further he radically criticized other totalitarian ideologies of the time, Stalinism and fascism, underscoring that they undermined the individuality and responsibility of man, as man is primarely to be understood as a spiritual being. And though Larsen considered himself a Christian, he strongly rejected the then widespread message of the so-called Oxford Group, most notably represented by the evangelist Frank Buchman, claiming that they represented a materialistic mentality.

In Janus Larsen also presented the work of many international writers to the Norwegian public, both in the form of reviews and first-time translations. Further, Janus was Larsen's main channel for advocating the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, both with regards to education and art, and as a general philosophy of life. This movement has later continued in the cultural magazines Spektrum, Horisont and Arken, and by such prolific writers as André Bjerke, Jens Bjørneboe and Kaj Skagen.

In 2009 Larsen was discovered to be an anti-Semite by historian of ideas Jan Erik Ebbestad Hansen, who in archives found a pamphlet named Jødeproblemet (The Jew Problem). Hans Fredrik Dahl referred to Larsen as "the worst Jew-hater of Norwegian twentieth-century literature".[4] Larsen's post-war openly expressed antipathy towards the Jews may not represent the complete truth on this sensitive matter, however, as one of his favourite authors is known to have been the Jewish born catholic philosopher Max Picard. Larsen had also, as mentioned, in Janus several times rejected the racial theories of the Nazis, see JANUS - et tidsskrift og en tid, by Terje G. Simonsen. It seems, though, that Larsen's views after World War II for some reason - some say because the absence of his late wife's mellowing influence - happened to become increasingly cliche-filled and eventually right out antisemitic.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alf Larsen". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  2. ^ Lotherington, Tom. "Alf Larsen". In Helle, Knut. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  3. ^ "Gyldendalprisen" (in Norwegian). forfatterportalen.no. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Dahl, Hans Fredrik (18 October 2009). "En norsk antisemitt trer fram". Dagbladet (in Norwegian). p. 48.