Meïr Aron Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt was born in Vordingborg but raised in Copenhagen. He belonged to a strictly orthodox family but his meeting with classical Greek culture changed much of this attitude and made him hereafter trying to balance between Jewish and non-Jewish thoughts. Especially the Greek idea of Nemesis impressed him and imbued much of his later works.
He graduated in 1836. In 1837 he founded Præstø Amts Tidende which in 1839 merged with Callundborg Ugeblad to become Sjællandsposten. He sold that in 1840 and in the same year founded the weekly political and satirical Corsaren ("The Corsair") where, under the cover of different editors, he criticised the king. As the real editor, he was sentenced to prison (6 times 4 days), a fine, and future censorship on June 7, 1843, in the Supreme Court. Corsaren remains an innovation of Danish journalism.
Goldschmidt had previously praised Søren Kierkegaard for his Either/Or, but the friendship was destroyed after the Corsar's continued attack on Kierkegaard. In 1846 Goldschmidt sold Corsaren. In the years 1847-1859 he ran a political magazine called Nord og Syd ("North and South").
Politically Goldschmidt was at the beginning a rebel with republican sympathies and flirting with Utopian socialist views (a novelty of Danish literature) but from the 1850s he came closer to a more traditional liberal ideology, and his attempts of playing a political role as an editor aroused accusations of opportunism. About 1860 he stopped his career as an opinion former and concentrated on literature.
His literature shows an interest in the metaphysical and philosophical. His first novel En Jøde (1845; Eng. transl. A Jew, 1990) is the first description of the Copenhagen Jewish milieu viewed from within. The large novel Hjemløs ("Homeless", 1853) deals with the idea of Nemesis and so does the important Arvingen (1865, "The Heir"), the first Danish fine literary treatment of divorce. Very valuable are his tales and novellas dealing with Jewish individuals described in a special mixture of irony and sympathy. Not seldom realism is broken by a special mysticism.
From a short-lived marriage he had a son in 1846 and a daughter in 1848.
Posterity has regarded Goldschmidt an uneven author. His novels are often weakened by long passages of pure action and outward events but in shorter forms (especially in the novellas of his old age) his considered much more successful. Being a romanticist himself his interest of problems and psychology in some ways anticipates the Modern Break-Through, not least the writings of Henrik Pontoppidan.. Finally he must be regarded one of the pioneers of a modern and independent Danish journalism.
He published several novels:
- 1845 - En Jøde, published under the pseudonym Adolph Meyer
- 1853-1857 - Hjemløs
- 1865 - Arvingen
- 1867 - Ravnen ("The Raven")
He also wrote a few dramas, and an autobiography (1877).
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Goldschmidt, Meier Aaron". Encyclopedia Americana.
- Meir Aaron Goldschmidt and the Poetics of Jewish Fiction by David Gantt Gurley, 2016, Syracuse University Press