Jeppe Aakjær (1866-1930)

Writer, studied history and worked as a correspondent for the socialist press around 1900, farmer in Jutland 1907-30.

In the beginning of the twentieth century Jeppe Aakjær was among the most popular writers of social realism and regional literature in Denmark. He wrote poems, stories and cultural studies about his native region, the moors of central Jutland. In the winter of 1887-1888, when a young Aakjær advocated free thought and socialism, he was a student at Askov Folk High School. Aakjær and a group of fellow freethinkers complained that modern literature and Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was ignored by the teachers. When the students made their own study group in order to pursue their interests, they found themselves in open conflict with the teachers who proclaimed that people not willing to accept the Christian and anti-materialist atmosphere at the school should stay away. This restriction of the students’ freedom made Aakjær critical of Grundtvigianism. He was especially unsympathetic towards the Askov physicist Poul la Cour’s orthodox Christian views including his literal interpretation of Scripture. However, from 1891 to 1892 the liberal neo-Grundtvigian clergyman Morten Pontoppidan employed him as teacher of natural history from a Darwinian perspective at his folk high school in Copenhagen. While Aakjær occasionally debated and taught Darwinism in the 1880s and 1890s, he did not publish on the topic.

Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

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