Dan Turèll

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Dan Turèll
Born(1946-03-19)March 19, 1946
Vangede, Denmark
DiedOctober 15, 1993(1993-10-15) (aged 47)
Copenhagen, Denmark

Dan Turèll[1] (March 19, 1946 – October 15, 1993), affectionately nicknamed "Onkel Danny" (Uncle Danny), was a popular Danish writer with notable influence on Danish literature. Influenced by the Beat Generation his work crossed a number of genres including autobiography, Beat literature and crime fiction.


Dan Turèll grew up in Vangede, which at that time was a town outside Copenhagen surrounded by fields; today it is a part of Greater Copenhagen. He died from esophageal cancer[2] and is buried at Assistens Cemetery. On Sunday March 19, 2006, on what would have been his 60th birthday, part of the town square of Halmtorvet in Copenhagen was named Onkel Dannys Plads (English: Uncle Danny's Square) in Dan Turèlls honour and remembrance.

Turèll was unruly, modern, and experimental when it came to both content and form. He might probably himself have claimed to let the form at all times be a consequence of an interaction between theme and subject, which inevitably would lead to a flood of crossing genres; delightfully difficult to fit into a box.

There is often a touch of autobiography, or perhaps rather self-orchestration, to his works. He was very conscious of his own image. Many will remember him for his black nail polish. Thus his major breakthrough was the autobiographical novel, Vangede Billeder (English: Images of Vangede) from 1975. He shares subjects with the American Beat poets (mainly Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac & William S. Burroughs): jazz, metropolis, drugs, and zen. He has an eye for the aesthetic dimensions of decline and degeneration, which he cultivates not least in his series of crime novels. Other recurring topics include Copenhagen, Malta, the teachings of Donald Duck, icons of American culture and the Americanisation, which the United States, for better or worse, had on Denmark.

Turèll loved his city of Copenhagen, its life, its noise and perhaps especially the little stories, that lurked everywhere. This love for the city is portrayed in many of his stories. It must be said, however, that his portrayal of Vesterbro is considerably more romantic than the Vesterbro of real life.

Turèll published quite a bit of his material himself, especially early in his career. He wrote in both Danish and English and has been translated into Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Norwegian, Swedish and Serbian.


Dan Turèll was a highly prolific writer, and this bibliography[3] is in no way complete. He has contributed to numerous anthologies in his time and collections of his works are still being published to this day. He has also written a vast number of articles and essays for newspapers and various magazines on countless subjects. His wrapsheet is breathtaking. Danish literary critic and writer, Lars Bukdahl, put it this way:[4] He only lived to the age of 47, and it is as though he knew he had to hurry.

Cut-up literature[edit]

  • Changes of Light, 1970
  • Occult Confessions, 1970
  • Speed of Light, 1970.
  • Opsvulmede byer i sigtekornet flagrende skud i bevidstheden (English: Inflated Cities in the Sight Fluttering Shots in the Consciousness), 1972.
  • Sidste forestilling bevidstløse trancebilleder af eksploderende spejltricks igennem flyvende tidsmaskine af smeltende elektriske glasfotos (English: Last Performance of Unconscious Trance Images of Exploding Mirror Tricks through Flying Time Machine of Melting Electrical Glass Photos), 1972
  • Feuilleton 1: Faraway Signs (English: Serial 1: Faraway Signs), 1972
  • Feuilleton 2: Laser Time Switch (English: Serial 2: Laser Time Switch), 1972
  • Feuilleton 3: Filmen synker igennem Deres øjne (English: Serial 3: The Film Sinks Through Your Eyes), 1972
  • Feuilleton 4: The Edison Kinetogram (English: Serial 4: The Edison Kinetogram), 1972
  • Feuilleton 5: It's Just Another Whistle Stop (English: Serial 5: It's Just Another Whistle Stop), 1973
  • Feuilleton 6: Not Fade Away ... (English: Serial 6: Not Fade Away ...), 1973
  • Feuilleton 7: Deres kodeskrift under Dobbelt Sol (English: Serial 7: Your Cipher under Double Sun), 1973
  • Feuilleton 8: Strangers in the Night (English: Serial 8: Strangers in the Night), 1978


  • Dét døgn, da - (English: That Day, When -), 1992

The Murder Series[edit]

The so-called Mord-serie (English: Murder Series) consists of ten novels and two volumes of short stories in the "American" school of crime fiction, known from writers like Raymond Chandler. All twelve volumes follow the same protagonist, a nameless detective / reporter, a freelance writer for a fictitious Copenhagen newspaper, plainly called Bladet (English: The Paper). In each novel the protagonist is hurled into a new murder mystery, often along recurring characters, centrally among them Politiinspektør Ehlers (English: Inspector Ehlers). The stories are self contained, but settings, relations, and characters evolve as the series progress.

The series primarily takes place in an alternate version of the borough of Vesterbro in Copenhagen, which serves as a backdrop for considerably more criminal endeavours than real life will probably ever match. Also certain aspects of the city's geography has been altered. Certain streets lie differently, for instance.

  • Mord i mørket (English: Murder in the Dark), 1981
  • Mord i Rodby (English: Murder in Rodby), 1981
  • Mord ved Runddelen (English: Murder by the Circle), 1983
  • Mord på Malta (English: Murder on Malta), 1983
  • Mord i marts (English: Murder in March), 1984
  • Mord i september (English: Murder in September), 1984
  • Mord i myldretiden (English: Murder during Rush Hour), 1985
  • Mord på møntvaskeriet og andre kriminalhistorier (English: Murder in the Launderette and Other Crime Stories), short stories, 1986
  • Mord i rendestenen (English: Murder in the Gutter), 1987
  • Mord i Paradis (English: Murder in Paradise), 1988
  • Mord på medierne (English: Murder on the Media), 1988
  • Mord på markedet (English: Murder on the Market), 1989
  • Mord i San Francisco (English: Murder in San Francisco), 1989


  • Vibrationer (English: Vibrations), 1966
  • 40 ark (English: 40 Sheets), 1969
  • 40 linier (English: 40 Lines), 1969
  • Manuskripter I: Øjne/Further instructions (English: Manuscripts I: Eyes/Further Instructions), 1970
  • Manuskripter II: Af beskrivelsen af det/Hvidt lys (English: Manuscripts II: From the Description of It/White Light), 1970
  • Manuskripter om hvad som helst (English: Manuscripts about anything), 1971.
  • Bevægelser, formålsløst cirklende (English: Movements, pointlessly circling), 1971
  • Dobbeltskrift (English: Double Writing), 1973 - with Peter Laugesen
  • Onkel Danny's dadaistiske discjockey djellaba jazzjungle joysticks (English: Uncle Danny's Dadaistic Disc-Jockey Djellaba Jazz-Jungle Joysticks), 1973
  • Sekvens af Manjana - den endeløse sang flimrende igennem hudens pupiller (English: Sequence of Manjana, the Endless Song Flickering through the Pupils of the Skin), 1973
  • Lissom (English: Like), 1973
  • Digte m. m. (English: Poems and more), 1973 - with Peter Laugesen, Jens Smærup Sørensen, & Henning Mortensen
  • Onkel Danny's drivende dansende dirrende dinglende daskende dryppende danske dåse-digte (English: Uncle Danny's Driving Dancing Dithering Dangling Dawdling Dripping Danish Dried Poems), 1974
  • Onkel Danny's deliristiske jukebox jitterbug (English: Uncle Danny's Delirious Jukebox Jitterbug), 1974
  • Karma Cowboy (English: Karma Cowboy), 1974; shortened version released in 1983
  • Drive-in digte: non-stop neon-nat lys-avis (English: Drive-In Poems: Non-Stop Neon-Night Electric Newspaper), 1976
  • Nytår i Rom (English: New Year in Rome), 1976
  • Live-show feed-back: 5 sæt af Bøgernes Bog (English: Live-Show Feed-Back: 5 Sets of the Book of Books), 1976
  • 3-D digte (English: 3-D Poems), 1977
  • Storby-Blues (English: Big City Blues), 1977
  • Vesterbrobilleder (English: Images of Vesterbro), 1977 - with photos by Kurt Lesser
  • Onkel Danny's små sorte sitrende swingende saxsoli sæbeboble-sange (English: Uncle Danny's Small Sable Shuddering Swinging Sax Solos Soapbubble Songs), 1978
  • Onkel Danny's rullende rallende regnvejrs ragtime rhapsodi (English: Uncle Danny's Rolling Rollicking Rainstorm Ragtime Rhapsody), 1979
  • Døgn-digte: udvalgte digte fra 70'erne (English: 24 Hour Poems: Selected Poems from the 70s), 1979
  • Ulysses' spejl (English: Ulysses' Mirror), 1981 - with Henrik Nordbrandt, illustrated by Barry Lereng Wilmont
  • Alhambra blues (English: Alhambra Blues), 1983
  • Kom forbi: sange & recitationer (English: Drop By: Songs & Recitals), 1984
  • Jazz-digte: et udvalg 1966-1986 (English: Jazz Poems: A Selection 1966-1986), 1986 - illustrated by Peter Hentze
  • Forklædt til genkendelighed: sange, digte & recitationer (English: Recognizably Disguised: Songs, Poems & Recitals), 1988
  • Himalaya Hilton (English: Himalaya Hilton), 1991
  • Gud & Gokke (English: The Lord & Hardy), 1992
  • Tja-a Cha-Cha (English: Tja-a Cha-Cha), 1993
  • Udvalgte digte 1: 1969-1974 (English: Selected Poems 1: 1969-1974), 2003
  • Udvalgte digte 2: 1973-1993 (English: Selected Poems 2: 1973-1993), 2004


  • Områder af skiftende tæthed og tomhed (English: Areas of Alternating Density and Void), 1970
  • Film (English: Film), 1973 - with Henrik Have
  • Vangede billeder (English: Images of Vangede), memoirs, 1975
  • Ezra Pound/William S. Burroughs/Lou Reed: 3 medie-montager (English: Ezra Pound/William S. Burroughs/Lou Reed: 3 Media Montages), 1975
  • Rockens rødder. Medie-montager II (English: The Roots of Rock. Media Montages II), 1975
  • SuperShowStjerneStøv. Medie-Montager III (English: SuperShowStarDust. Media Montages III), 1976
  • Onkel Danny fortæller (English: Uncle Danny Relates), memoirs, 1976
  • Af Livets Laboratorium. Medie-Montager IV (English: From the Lab of Life. Media Montages IV), 1977
  • MenneskeMyteMaskinen. Medie-Montager V (English: ManMythMachine. Media Montages V), 1977
  • Livets karrusel (English: The Merry-Go-Round of Life), 1977
  • Onkel Danny fortæller videre (English: Uncle Danny Relates Further), memoirs, 1978
  • Onkel Sams sønner. Medie-Montager VI (English: Uncle Sam's Sons. Media Montages VI), 1978
  • Alverdens vampyrer: første forestilling på Grusomhedens Teater eller En idés rejse fra 5000 f. Kristus til i dag (English: All the World's Vampires: First Performance of the Theatre of Cruelty or The Journey of an Idea from 5000 b. Christ until Today), 1978
  • Amerikanske ansigter: udvalgte artikler fra 70'erne (English: American Faces: Selected Articles from the 70's), 1979
  • Møde i Garda: en fortælling i forbigående (English: Meeting in Garda: A Story in Passing), 1979
  • Dan Turèll i byen: 50 historier af Københavns-krøniken fortalt fra dag til dag (English: Dan Turèll on the Town: 50 Stories from the Copenhagen Chronicle told from Day to Day), 1979 - illustrated by Peder Nyman
  • Onkel Danny fortæller i timevis (English: Uncle Danny Relates for Hours on End), 1979
  • Dan Turèll - et udvalg omkring en generation (English: Dan Turèll - A Selection About a Generation), 1981
  • Onkel Danny fortæller på talløse opfordringer (English: Uncle Danny Relates by Countless Requests), memoirs, 1982
  • Dan Turèll i byen igen: 50 historier af Københavns-krøniken fortalt fra dag til dag (English: Dan Turèll on the Town Again: 50 Stories from the Copenhagen Chronicle told from Day to Day), 1982 - illustrated by Peder Nyman
  • Omkring på Brevduebanen (English: Around at the Carrier Pigeon Track), 1982
  • Dansk dragefestival 1964-1984 (English: Danish Kite Festival 1964-1984), 1984 - with Bjarne Lynnerup
  • Sort film: en privat dagbog omkring kriminalgenren (English: Film Noir: A Private Journal about the Crime Genre), 1984
  • Shu-Bi-Dua - melodierne, teksterne, historien (English: Shu-Bi-Dua - the Melodies, the Lyrics, the Story), 1984 - essay by Turèll, note sheets and lyrics by Shu-Bi-Dua
  • Dan Turèll i byen så det basker: 50 historier af Københavns-krøniken fortalt fra dag til dag (English: Dan Turèll on the Town with a Vengeance: 50 Stories from the Copenhagen Chronicle told from Day to Day), 1985 - illustrated by Peder Nyman
  • Don Dobbeltliv og andre historier fra Stjernecaféen (English: Don Double-Life and Other Stories from Star Café), short stories, 1985
  • Nekrolog - blues for -- (English: Necrologue - Blues for --, 1987 - illustrated by Peter Hentze
  • Blues for Buddha (English: Blues for Buddha), 1988 - illustrated by Peter Hentze
  • Dan Turèll i byen - i dén grad!: 50 historier af Københavns-krøniken fortalt fra dag til dag (English: Dan Turèll on the Town - and how!: 50 Stories from the Copenhagen Chronicle told from Day to Day), 1988 - illustrated by Peder Nyman
  • As time goes by - :klip fra den fortsatte scrap-bog (English: As Time Goes By -: Cuts from the Continued Scrapbook), 1989
  • Dan Turèll i byen - og i baggårdene: 50 historier af Københavns-krøniken fortalt fra dag til dag (English: Dan Turèll on the Town - and in the Backyards: 50 Stories from the Copenhagen Chronicle told from Day to Day), 1991
  • Undervejs med Copenhagen All Stars: et jazzband på turné i Danmark (English: On the Road with Copenhagen All Stars: A Jazzband on Tour in Denmark), 1991
  • Dan Turèll i byen - for sidste gang: 37 historier af Københavns-krøniken fortalt fra dag til dag (English: Dan Turèll on the Town - One Last Time: 37 Stories from the Copenhagen Chronicle told from Day to Day), 1994
  • Just a gigolo: klip fra den store scrap-bog 1989-93 (English: Just a Gigolo: Cuts from the Great Scrapbook 1989-93), 1995
  • En nat ved højttaleren med sprogets mikrofon: rariteter, 1964-79 (English: A Night by the Speaker with the Mic of Language: rarities, 1964-79), 2003
  • Medie-montager: greatest hits (English: Media Montages: Greatest Hits), 2003
  • Charlie Parker i Istedgade: tekster om jazz (English: Charlie Parker in Istedgade: Texts about jazz), 2006

Spoken Word Recordings[edit]

  • Dansk tale: to monologer (English: Danish Speech: Two Monologues), MC, 1981
  • Dan Turèll & Sølvstjernerne (English: Dan Turèll & the Silver Stars), LP, 1991; CD, 1993 - with music by Sølvstjernerne
  • Pas på pengene! (English: Watch the Money), CD, 1993 - with music by Halfdan E
  • Glad i åbningstiden (English: Happy During Opening Hours), CD, 1996 - with music by Halfdan E
  • Dan Turèll & Sølvstjernerne vender tilbage (English: Dan Turèll & the Silver Stars Return), CD, 2004 - with music by Sølvstjernerne

Works in English[edit]

The following poems of Dan Turèll have been published in English since 2009 when the American writer, Thomas E. Kennedy, began to translate and write about Turèll with his widow’s permission: Three poems from Storby-Blues with essay, “Uncle Danny Comes to America,” in New Letters, 73:2&3 (2009):126-39; four poems from Storby Blues, with essay, “Smoking Dan Turèll’s 27-year-old Cigar,”in Absinthe: New European Writing 12 (2009):34-58 {Reprinted in Perigee: Publication for the Arts, Fall 2012.] “Deep Frost Film,” Poetry Wales, 46:2:6-7 (Autumn 2010); “My TV Drama,” in Ecotone 12 (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), Fall 2011, p. 73-75; “Total Euphoria,” “It Isn’t Easy,” “I Should Have Been a Taxi Driver,” “Today’s Sermon According to Disney,” and “Charlie Parker on Isted Street,” with an “Introduction to Dan Turèll” by the translator, in Poet Lore, Vol 107, Spring-Summer 2012, No.1-2, pp 96-114; . “Autumn Blues,” “Midnight Mass,” and “Teddy Bear” in McNeese Review: 50 (2013):22-28; “Too Much, Man,” in Epoch, Cornell University (forthcoming).

  • The Total-Copy System, poetry, 1971.
  • A Draft of XXX Space Cantos, crossover poetry, 1972
  • Here Comes Your 19th Nervous Breakdown/Stones: Last Words 1972, poem, 1973
  • Another Draft of Space Cantos, crossover poetry, 1974
  • A Third Draft of Space Cantos, crossover poetry, 1974
  • Feuilleton 8: Strangers in the Night (English: Serial 8: Strangers in the Night), 1978
  • And all that jazz: Copenhagen Jazz Festival (English: And All That Jazz: Copenhagen Jazz Festival), photobook; text in both Danish and English - photos by Gorm Valentin


  • His novels, Mord i mørket (English: Murder in the Dark) and Mord i Paradis (English: Murder in Paradise) both from 1981 were made into film in 1986 and 1988 respectively.
  • In 2006 a musical theatre production, Onkel Danny, was made about his life.


The square Dan Turèlls Plads in his native Vangede was named for him on 9 March 2007.[5] Onkel Dannys Plads (Uncle Danny's Square) in the Kødbyen area of Copenhagen's Vesterbro district is also named for him.


  1. ^ This article is based on the article on Dan Turèll in Danish Wikipedia
  2. ^ dk4 - Udfordrende tv 24 timer i døgnet
  3. ^ The bibliography of this article was researched by way of the following online resources: National Danish Online Library Database (https://bibliotek.dk), Danish Literature Centre (http://www.litteraturnet.dk) & The Turèll Collection (http://www.turellsamlingen.dk)
  4. ^ In The Danish Literature Centre's biography of Dan Turèll; see direct link under External links
  5. ^ "Dan Turèlls Plads". Gentofte Kommune (in Danish). Retrieved 1 March 2017.

External links[edit]