Jens Bjørneboe

Jens Bjørneboe

Infobox Writer
name = Jens Bjørneboe

birthdate = birth date|1920|10|9
birthplace = Kristiansand, Norway
deathdate = death date and age|1976|5|9|1920|10|9
deathplace = Veierland in Nøtterøy, Norway
occupation = School teacher, author
nationality = Norwegian
period = 1951–1976

Jens Ingvald Bjørneboe (born October 9, 1920 in Kristiansand, Norway, died May 9, 1976 in Veierland in Nøtterøy) was a Norwegian writer whose work spanned a number of literary formats. He was also a painter and a school teacher. Bjørneboe was a harsh and eloquent critic of Norwegian society and Western civilization on the whole. He led a turbulent life and his uncompromising humanity would cost him both an obscenity conviction as well as long periods of heavy drinking and bouts of depression, which in the end led to his suicide.

Jens Bjørneboe's first published work was "Poems" ("Dikt") in 1951. He is widely considered to be one of Norway's most important post-war authors. Bjørneboe identified himself, among other self-definitions, as an anarcho-nihilist.

Early life

Jens Bjørneboe was born in 1920, in Kristiansand to Ingvald and Anna Marie Bjørneboe. Although he grew up in a wealthy family, his father a shipping magnate and a Belgian consul. Having come from a long line of marine officers Bjørneboe went to sea also as a young man.

Bjørneboe had a troubled childhood with sickness and depressions. He was bedbound several years following severe pneumonia. Already at thirteen he attempted suicide by hanging himself. He began drinking when he was twelve, and he would often consume large amounts of wine when his parents were away. It is also rumoured that he drank his father's aftershave on several occasions.

In 1943 Bjørneboe fled to Sweden to avoid forced labor. During this exile, he met the German Jewish painter Lisel Funk, who later became his first wife.

Literary career

Bjørneboe's early work was poetry, and his first book was "Poems" ("Dikt", 1951), consisting mainly of deeply religious poetry.

Bjørneboe wrote a number of socially critical novels. Among those were "Ere the Cock Crows" ("Før Hanen Galer", 1952), "Jonas" (1955) and "The Evil Shepherd" ("Den Onde Hyrde", 1960)."Ere the Cock Crows" is a critique of the (in Bjørneboes' view) harsh post-World-War-II treatment of people viewed to be in any way associated with the Nazis (among those Norwegian writer and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Knut Hamsun). "Jonas" deals with injustices and shortcomings of the school system and "The Evil Shepherd' with the Norwegian prison system.

His most central work is by many considered to be the trilogy "The History of Bestiality", consisting of the novels "Moment of Freedom" (Frihetens Øyeblikk, 1966), "Powderhouse" ("Kruttårnet", 1969) and "The Silence" ("Stillheten", 1973).

Bjørneboe also wrote a number of plays, among those were "The Bird Lovers" ("Fugleelskerne", 1966), "Semmelweis" (1968) and "Amputation" ("Amputasjon", 1970), where he cooperated with Eugenio Barba and the Danish theatre ensemble Odin Teatret.

In 1967, he was convicted for publishing a novel deemed pornographic, "Without a Stitch" ("Uten en tråd", 1966), which was confiscated and banned in Norway. The trial, however, made the book a huge success (in foreign languages), and Bjørneboe's financial problems were (for a period) solved. His last major work was the novel "The Sharks" ("Haiene", 1974).

Death and legacy

After having struggled with depression and alcoholism for a long time, he committed suicide on May 9, 1976.

In his obituary in "Aftenposten", Bjørneboe's life and legacy was described: "For 25 years Jens Bjørneboe was a center of unrest in Norwegian cultural life: Passionately concerned with contemporary problems in nearly all their aspects, controversial and with the courage to be so, with a conscious will to carry things to extremes. He was not to be pigeonholed. He dropped in on many philosophical and political movements, but couldn't settle down in any of them. He was a wanderer, always traveling on in search of what was for him the truth -- and he was a free man, in that he always ruthlessly followed his innermost intentions. Perhaps he could say, like Søren Kierkegaard, that "subjectivity is truth," for he knew no other guide than his personal conviction and his own impulses -- but he related not merely to himself; his deepest concern was society and the person in society. His subjective grasp always involved the totality."



* "Duke Hans" ("Hertug Hans", 1972)
* "Ere the Cock Crows" ("Før hanen galer", 1952)
* "Jonas" (1955)
* "Under a Harsher Sky" ("Under en hårdere himmel", 1957)
* "Winter in Bellapalma" ("Vinter i Bellapalma", 1958)
* "Little Boy Blue" ("Blåmann", 1959)
* "The Evil Shepherd" ("Den onde hyrde", 1960)
* "The Dream and the Wheel" ("Drømmen og hjulet", 1964), about author Ragnhild Jølsen
* "Moment of Freedom" ("Frihetens øyeblikk", 1966) ("translated by Esther Greenleaf Mürer, Norvik Press / [ Dufour] ", 1999)
* "Without a Stitch" ("Uten en tråd", 1966)
* "Powderhouse" ("Kruttårnet", 1969) ("translated by Esther Greenleaf Mürer, Norvik Press / [ Dufour] ", 2000)
* "The Silence" ("Stillheten", 1973) ("translated by Esther Greenleaf Mürer, Norvik Press / [ Dufour] ", 2000)
* "The Sharks" ("Haiene", 1974) ("translated by Esther Greenleaf Mürer, Norvik Press / Dufour", 1992)


* "Many Happy Returns" ("Til lykke med dagen", 1965)
* "The Bird Lovers" ("Fugleelskerne", 1966) ("translated by Frederick Wasser, Sun&Moon Press", 1994)
* "Semmelweis" (1968) ("translated by Joe Martin, Sun&Moon Press", 1999)
* "Amputation (Amputasjon", 1970). Reprinted as: "Amputations: Texts for an Extraordinary Spectacle" ("translated by Solrun Hoaas & Esther Greenleaf Mürer", Xenos Books, 2002)
* "The Torgersen Case" ("Tilfellet Torgersen", 1972)
* "Blue Jeans" ("Dongery", 1976)

Poem collections

* "Poems" ("Dikt", 1951)
* "Ariadne" (1953)
* "The Great City" ("Den store by", 1958)
* "Happy Birthday" ("Til lykke med dagen", 1965)

Essay collections

* "Norway, my Norway" ("Norge, mitt Norge", 1968)
* "We Who Loved America" ("Vi som elsket Amerika", 1970)
* "Police and Anarchy" ("Politi og anarki", 1972)


* Obituary, "Aftenposten", May 11, 1976

External links

* [ Jens Bjørneboe in English] online archives
* [ Gary Kern on Jens Bjørneboe and the "History of Bestiality"]

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  • Jens Bjørneboe — Jens Ingvald Bjørneboe (* 9. Oktober 1920 in Kristiansand, Norwegen; † 9. Mai 1976 in Veierland bei Tønsberg, Norwegen) war ein zu Lebzeiten stark umstrittener norwegischer Schriftsteller und Lehrer. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Leistungen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jens Bjørneboe — Jens Ingvald Bjørneboe (né le 9 octobre 1920 à Kristiansand, mort le 9 mai 1976 à Veierland, Nøtterøy) était un écrivain norvégien, notable pour sa vaste production et son fort engagement social. Biographie Cette section est… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jens Ingvald Bjørneboe — Jens Bjørneboe Jens Ingvald Bjørneboe (* 9. Oktober 1920 in Kristiansand, Norwegen ; † 9. Mai 1976 in Veierland bei Tønsberg, Norwegen) war ein zu Lebzeiten stark umstrittener norwegischer Schriftsteller und Lehrer. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Jens Bjoerneboe — Jens Bjørneboe Jens Ingvald Bjørneboe (* 9. Oktober 1920 in Kristiansand, Norwegen ; † 9. Mai 1976 in Veierland bei Tønsberg, Norwegen) war ein zu Lebzeiten stark umstrittener norwegischer Schriftsteller und Lehrer. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bjørneboe — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Jens Bjørneboe (1920–1976), norwegischer Schriftsteller Liv Benedicte Bjørneboe (* 1965), norwegische Organistin, Komponistin und Kantorin Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur U …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bjørneboe, Jens — ▪ Norwegian author in full  Jens Ingvald Bjørneboe  born October 9, 1920, Kristiansand, Norway died May 9, 1976, Veierland       Norwegian novelist, dramatist, essayist, and poet whose work was generally inspired by a sense of outrage at the… …   Universalium

  • Bjørneboe —   [ bjœrnəbuː], Jens Ingvald, norwegischer Schriftsteller, * Kristiansand 9. 10. 1920, ✝ Veierland (bei Tønsberg) 9. 5. 1976; prangert in Romanen, auch in Schauspielen und Essays die Bevormundung des Individuums durch staatliche Institutionen wie …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Bjørneboe, Jens — (1920 1976)    A Norwegian novelist, playwright, poet, and essayist, Bjørneboe was profoundly influenced by the culture of Continental Europe. His literary debut was a collection of poetry entitled simply Dikt (1951; Poems), which was followed by …   Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater

  • NORWAY, bibliography — Bibliographic Resources Grønland, Erling. Norway in English. Oslo: Norwegian Universities Press, 1961. Hoberman, John. Bibliographical Spectrum. Review of National Literatures 12 (1983): 185 207. Næss, Harald. Norwegian Literary Bibliography 1956 …   Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater

  • History of Bestiality — The History of Bestiality is a trilogy by the Norwegian writer Jens Bjørneboe. It consists of the three books Moment of Freedom ( Frihetens øyeblikk , 1966), Powderhouse ( Kruttårnet , 1969) and The Silence ( Stillheten , 1973). Moment of Freedom …   Wikipedia

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