Kai Friis Moeller – H.G. Wells – Queen Christina – Madame de Pompadour

(18.Sept.2018) Today is tuesday and I believe perhaps I’ve never seen a nicer September day here in Copenhagen. Bright and clear and sunny and neither hot nor cold nor windy – just about perfect.

It was thus sort of unfortunate that I didn’t feel like making a photographic outing with one of my old plate cameras this morning. Also I have some Ektachromes in the refrigerator in various cut film sizes that perhaps ought to be put to task before too long. But just not today.

Instead I’ve managed to get Ubuntu installed on an old ThinkPad of mine. And – ofcourse – I’ve also managed to get a chance to visit the book cases in the Copenhagen book street, Fiolstraede, as well as the ongoing dutch book sale in the CoalMarket (Kultorvet).

At Paludan’s in Fiolstraede I found two slim volumes by one of the greatest critics in 20th century Denmark – le redoutable Kai Friis Moeller. Both volumes issued in 1946. The price was 10 kr each ($1,50).

1. ET NARRESKIB. Af Kai Friis Moeller. Copenhagen, 1946, Gyldendal, 75p. Very nicely bound in contemporary, wine red cloth. Original edition was issued in 1935.

The six essays offered here seem to more or less have a common thread of sarcasm. Here is the beginning of item number four: LE NU ARTISTIQUE.

‘Hr. Dr. phil. Martin Ellehauge, der har vundet sig en position ved at skrive bøger paa engelsk om engelske dramatikere, er nu debuteret ogsaa som dansk forfatter med en bog om sine dramatiske landsmænd.

‘Hvad man end kan sige om denne gennemgang af efterkrigstidens danske dramatik, saa vil den i hvert fald ikke friste læseren til at gentage den kompliment, som hans første bog om engelsk skuespildigtning skal have indbragt ham i TIMES’ LITERARY SUPPLEMENT, at ‘hans kritik er behagelig fri for modefordomme’:

‘Bogen er i hver eneste linje ligefrem imprægneret med alle den hyperortodokse psyko-analytikers seksuelle tvangstanker, ytrede med en fanatisk ihærdighed, som hundrede aar ud i fremtiden vil gøre den til en lækkerbidsken for den forsker, der maatte ønske at studere danske modefordomme af 1933 i deres naiveste form.’

(There you are – please!)

2. PROFANE PROFETER. Af Kai Friis Moeller. Copenhagen, 1946, Gyldendal, 148p. Original edition was issued in 1922.

There are 11 essays, and here a couple of samples from EN GUDFORLADT BIBEL:

‘I et tidligere kapitel har jeg refereret, hvorledes H.G.Wells i sin nyeste bog, THE SALVAGING OF CIVILISATION, foreholder vor stakkels verdensdel USA som den ideelle, rent unationale statsformation, efter hvis mønster man foreløbig burde omdanne de nationalitetsbestemte europæiske riger til ‘Europas forenede Stater’ – som det første skridt henimod virkeliggørelsen af tusindaarsriget ‘The World State’. Jeg har tillige paavist, at denne skønne fantasi bygger paa en fuldkommen misforstaaelse af amerikanismen.

A few pages later he says:

‘Lad os et øjeblik sammenholde denne kaadmundede bestemmelse af nationalitetsbegrebet med en anden og mere alvorlig. Den hidrører ikke fra nogen af Mr. Wells’ modstandere, men tværtimod fra en af de store ahner til den tidsaand, hvis endelige forfald markeres tydeligt igennem bøger som den foreligende.

‘Den jeg vil citere, er ERNEST RENAN: I et navnkundigt foredrag, holdt paa Sorbonne i 1882, har han stillet nøjagtigt det samme spørgsmaal som nu Wells: Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? Og ligesom wells, blot grundigere, har han paavist, at hverken i Racen, Sproget, Religionen, Interessefællesskabet eller Geografien har nationen det, den kan hælde sit hoved til.

‘Men af den grund falder det ham ikke ind at lade haant om den nationale idé. Tværtimod giver han den klare definition heraf, som Encyclopaedia Britannica opgiver at finde, og som Wells finder det næsten hyklersk blot at søge efter:

‘En nation er en sjæl, et aandeligt princip. To omstændigheder, der i virkeligheden er een og samme, danner denne sjæl, dette aandelige princip. Den ene ligger i det forbigangne, den anden i det nærværende. Den ene er den fælles besiddelse af en rig arv af minder; den anden er den nuværende slægts samtykke, beslutningen om at leve sammen, viljen til fremdeles at gøre den arv gældende, som man har modtaget udelt’.

These lines of M. Renan brings to mind an essay from two years ago (Link 1) in which I stated: ‘Moral betyder ansvar for vort fælles kosmiske arvegods’, which should somehow update the above to be suitable for our own age, the Space Age? (The mantra may perhaps be translated into English approx. like this: ‘Morality means respect and responsibility for the common cosmic heritage’?).

In the dutch book sale in the CoalMarket the price today is 20 kr ($3). I found these

3. BAROKTIDS-MÄNNISKORNA I ROM. Av Kasimir Chledowski. 2nd ed. (Translated from the polish by E.Weer). Hugo Gerber, Stockholm, 1920. 531 p. ill.

This beautifully bound volume, printed on de luxe paper, has 17 chapters and among the names treated are: Orsini, Borghese, Galilei, Bernini, de la Trémouille, and – in chapt. 12 – ‘Drottning Kristina in Rom’.

This strange woman probably still have an interest for some readers in the Nordic countries. The author treats of her on 82 pages, but doesn’t mention the follwing curious facts about her ancestors.

She may, ofcourse, have her name from her great-grandmother Christina, duchess of Holstein-Gottorp. Christina of Holstein again had the same name as her mother, Countess (‘Landgravess / Landgrevinde’) of Hesse, married to the well known Landgrave of Hesse, Philip the Magnanimous (1504-67), called ‘an eminent warrior’ but also renowned for his weakness towards the fair sex.

Philip was a direct descendent of Germany’s national Saint, St.Elizabeth – also called Elizabeth of Thüringen or of Hungary. Elizabeth (1207-31) was a daughter of the Hungarian king Andreas II and his German queen Gertrud of Merania.

Queen Christina also – through her great-grandfather, the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp – descended from a nephew af St.Elizabeth, i.e. the Hungarian king Stephan V, whose queen was a turkish princess Elizabeth of Kumania (daughter of a Prince Zayhan ‘of the family of the Chans of the Kuths’).

Queen Christina hence had trace amounts of both Hungarian and Turkish blood running in her veins, and this fact may, or may not, explain some of her resolve and hard edges, not (now) typical of the Nordic peoples?

Much has been written about Queen Christine (1629-89), but as far as I know the above facts haven’t been mentioned. Space age Germanic peoples – and especially the Nordics? – normally dont talk about their ancestors. Perhaps they have been mesmerized into believing they haven’t any?

If so this would fit smoothly with the modern (Danish) political philosophy of disruption: ‘Burn everything down every 7 years’ (link 2) – and ‘Don’t look back – look forward!’. The problem is, ofcourse, if you don’t have a history – neither do you have a future. (link 3)

In any case, the Nordic peoples and their culture are – sadly, but obviously – dying. The same applies, I’m afraid, to much of (Western) Europe. Except for Hungary, perhaps, that seems to have more stamina than most. (note 1)

(Incidentally queen Christina was a second cousin to one Joachim von Holstein, who owned an estate in Mecklenburg (note 2) and whose son was captain Philip Christoph von Holstein (1693-1759). This gentleman lived for a few years in the first half of the 18th century in a village in Northern Jutland, Goettrup. He was one of the Godfathers for my maternal great-great-great-great-grandfather, born 1742, who got his name Christopher after him).

4. MADAME DE POMPADOUR. By Nancy Mitford. Translated into Danish by K. Windfeld-Hansen. Copenhagen, Grafisk, 1955, soft cover.

I’ve already managed to read a few dozen pages of this very interesting tale from the reign of Louis XV, the french king that ruled for abt. two generations in the 18th century.

One irritating detail is she gets around the complicated family history of the most important persons she relates about in a rather cavalier way. F.i. she doesn’t mention, that the so-called Regent – the Duke (Philip) of Orleans, that ruled from 1715-23 while Louis XV was but a child – was a nephew of Louis XIV. And so on and so forth, the extended royal family was enormous and is hardly possible to keep tab on for most readers without some help from the author.

But it’s nearly always particularly interesting to read female authors of history and memoirs. Usually you are then also relieved of the burden of hearing of all the foolish and dreary wars and campaigns.

Note 1.
As an aside: The Hungarian language is said to have more affinities with Sumerian than any other known language. A distant second and/or third reportedly are Finnish and Turkish.

Note 2.
Joachim Jürgen v. Holstein was a grandson of the Duke Johan Frederik of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp (1578-1634). He became archbishop of Bremen-Verden and was, like his grandfather Philip the Magnanimous, renowned for his weakness towards the fair sex, even if he never married. A historian (1718) relates about him, that he was “von einer sehr geistlichen Lebens-Art, da er nur 3 Maitressen zugleich hielt”.

1. http://www.gamleboeger.dk/2016/09/01/fugleperspektiv/

2. http://www.gamleboeger.dk/2018/01/10/disruption-and-wispy-trails/

2. https://blocnotesimma.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/huxley-lauto-van-gogh-the-universe-piet-hein/


Crossposted on www.gamleboeger.dk and http://blocnotesimma.wordpress.com

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(*)My twitter account now has been banned by the friendly folks at Twitter – i.e. I cannot access it. My first blog www.imma.smartlog.dk, that I started in 2008 was totally blocked in 2014 (after attaining abt. 100 hits/day) when I posted this satire (in danish) http://blocnotesimma.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/krig-krig-krig/ ).