Gustaf Munch-Petersen

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Gustaf Munch-Petersen (February 18, 1912 – April 2,[1] 1938) was a Danish writer and painter. He wrote surreal prose-poems, considered groundbreaking in his time, which have inspired later writers.

Gustaf Munch-Petersen grew up in a rich and respectable home; he was son of Valfrid Palmgren, a Swedish born Associate Professor in Swedish at Copenhagen University and Jon Julius Munch-Petersen, Professor in Engineering Research at the Polytechnic School. He graduated from Gymnasium in 1930 and thereafter started several academic courses, but none could capture his interest for more than a short period of time.

Instead he focused on art (supported financially by his parents). He got his debut as a writer with ”Det nøgne menneske” (The Naked Human) in 1932. He also got his pictures on show at different exhibitions in 1932. In 1935 he moved to the Danish island of Bornholm, where he married Lise Hjort. In 1937 he joined the International Brigades and fought in the Spanish Civil War, where he fell the next year.

His cousin, Arne Munch-Petersen, was a well-known member of the Danish Communist Party (Danmarks Kommunistiske Parti, DKP) who worked for the Comintern in Moscow. In 1937, he was imprisoned in Butyrka prison on charges of sabotage, where he died of tuberculosis in 1940.


  1. ^ „April 2” Svend Dahl/Poul Engelstoft: Dansk skønlitterært forfatterleksikon 1900–1950, vol. 2, Copenhagen 1960, p. 316. „Circa April 2” Dansk biografisk leksikon, vol. 10, Copenhagen 1982, p. 100. „March 28” Virpi Zuck: Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature, Chicago 1990, p. 422.