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JOHAN HENRIK KELLGREN (1751–1795)

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 719 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHAN HENRIK KELLGREN (1751–1795), Swedish poet and critic, was born at Floby in West Gothland, on the 1st of December 17 51. He studied at the university of Abo, and had already some reputation as a poet when in 1774 he there became a " docent " in aesthetics. Three years later he removed to Stock-holm, where in conjunction with Assessor Carl Lenngren he began in 1778 the publication of the journal Stockholmsposten, of which he was sole editor from 1788 onwards. Kellgren was librarian to Gustavus III. from 1780, and from 1785 his private secretary. On the institution of the Swedish Academy in 1786719 he was appointed one of its first members. He died at Stock-holm on the loth of April 1795. His strong satiric tendency led him into numerous controversies, the chief that with the critic Thomas Thorild, against whom he directed his satire Nyt forsok till orimmad vers, where he sneers at the " raving of Shakespeare " and " the convulsions of Goethe," His lack of humour detracts from the interest of his polemical writings. His poetical works are partly lyrical, partly dramatic; of the plays the versification belongs to him, the plots being due to Gustavus III. The songs interspersed in the four operas which they produced in common, viz., Gustaf Vasa, Gustaf Adolf och Ebba Brake, Aeneas i Kartago, and Drottning Krishna, are wholly the work of Kellgren. From about the year 1788 a higher and graver feeling pervades Kellgren's verses, partly owing to the influence of the works of Lessing and Goethe, but probably more directly due to his controversy with Thorild. Of his minor poems written before that date the most important are the charming spring-song Vinterns valde lyktar, and the satrical Mina lojen and Man eger ej snille for det man di- galen. The best productions of what is called his later period are the satire Ljusets fiender, the comic poem Dumboms lefverne, the warmly patriotic Kantat d. 1. jan. 1789, the ode Till Kristina, the fragment Sigwart och Hilma, and the beautiful song Nya skapelsen, both in thought and form the finest of his works. Among his lyrics are the choicest fruits of the Gustavian age of Swedish letters. His earlier efforts, indeed, express the superficial doubt and pert frivolousness characteristic of his time; but in the works"of his riper years he is no mere " poet of pleasure," as Thorild contemptuously styled him, but a worthy exponent of earnest moral feeling and wise human sympathies in felicitous and melodius verse. His Samlade skrifter (3 vols., 1796; a later edition, 1884–1885) were revised by himself. His correspondence with Rosenstein and with Clewberg was edited by H. Schilck (1886–1887 and 1894). See Wieselgren, Sveriges skOna litteratur (1833–1849); Atterbom, Svenska siare och skalder (1841–1855) ; C. W. Bottiger in Transactions of the Swedish Academy, xlv. to7 seq. (187o); and Gustaf Ljunggren's Kellgren, Leopold, och Thorild, and his Svenska vitterhetens hafder (1873-1877).
End of Article: JOHAN HENRIK KELLGREN (1751–1795)
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