Kaj Munk

Kaj Munk


He was born Kaj Harald Leininger Petersen on the island of Lolland, Denmark, and raised by a family named Munk after the death of his parents. From 1924, he was the vicar of Vedersø in Western Jutland.

The dramas of Munk were mostly performed and made public during the 1930s, although many were written in the 1920s. Much of his work is a contribution to the "philosophy-on-life debate" (religion - Marxism - Darwinism) which marked much of Danish cultural life during this period. He often used a historical background for his plays - among his influences were Shakespeare and Goethe.

In his dramas Munk often displays a fascination for "strong characters" and integrated people who fight wholeheartedly for their ideals (whether good or bad). In his play "En Idealist", for example, the "hero" is King Herod whose fight to maintain power is the motive behind all of his acts until he is at last defeated by a show of kindness to the Christ child in a weak moment.

"I Brændingen" is a camouflaged portrait of Munk's antagonist, the anti-religious Georg Brandes whose atheist attitude also impressed him.

His 1925 play Ordet (The Word) is often said to have been his best work; it is an investigation of miracles from the unique (at least, to theatre) viewpoint of one who was not prepared to dismiss them. A family of farmers - of differing degrees of faith - find themselves reconciled to their neighbours through a miracle. A 1955 film version of "Ordet" was directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, and won the Golden Globe Award that year for Best Foreign Language Film.

On one occasion, in the early 1930s, in a comment that would come back to haunt him in later years, Munk expressed admiration for Hitler (for uniting Germans) and wished that the same kind of unifying figure could be found for Danes. However, Munk's attitude towards Hitler (and Mussolini) quickly turned to outspoken disgust, as he witnessed Hitler's persecution of the German Jewish community, and Mussolini's conduct of the war in Ethiopia. Right from the start, Munk was a strong opponent of the German Occupation of Denmark (1940-1945) (although he continually opposed the idea of democracy as such, preferring the idea of a "Nordic dictator" who should unite the Nordic countries and keep them neutral during periods of international crisis). His plays "Han sidder ved Smeltediglen" ("He sits by the melting pot") and "Niels Ebbesen" were direct attacks on Nazism.

In 1938 the Danish newspaper "Jyllands-Posten" published on its front page an open letter to Benito Mussolini written by Kaj Munk criticising the persecutions against Jews. He was arrested and subsequently assassinated by the Gestapo on January 4, 1944 at Hørbylunde, near Silkeborg.

The reputation of Munk is one of the most paradoxical in modern Danish literature. During most of his life he was known as a right-wing anti-democrat, yet he passed into history as the anti-Nazi martyr. He was extremely engaged in his own time, but usually wrote historical plays. He is often called a renewer of Danish drama but, in fact, he tried to revive both romantic and traditional naturalist theatre. He is called a classicist but today his plays are not performed very often. He was a deeply religious person but just as much a man of this world. His engaging personality has been an enduring centre of interest.

His plays, many of which have been performed at the Royal Theatre, Copenhagen, and elsewhere, include:

* "Pilatus" (1917. Published 1937),
* "Ordet" (tr. "The Word") (1925),
* "Kærlighed" (1926),
* "En Idealist" (1928),
* "I Brændingen" (1929),
* "Kardinalen og Kongen" (1929),
* "Cant" (1931),
* "De Udvalgte" (1933),
* "Sejren" (1936),
* "Han sidder ved Smeltediglen" (1938),
* "Egelykke" (1940),
* "Niels Ebbesen" (1942),
* "Før Cannae" (1943).

The play "Ordet" was filmed in black and white by Carl Theodor Dreyer. His play Niels Ebbesen has been translated into English (2007)by his granddaughter Arense Lund, and Dave Carley.

External links

* [http://www.kajmunk.dk www.kajmunk.dk]
* [http://www.kajmunk.hum.aau.dk/en www.kajmunk.hum.aau.dk]

NAME=Munk, Kaj Harald Leininger
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Danish playwright
DATE OF BIRTH=birth date|1898|1|13|mf=y
PLACE OF BIRTH=Lolland, Denmark
DATE OF DEATH=death date|1944|1|4|mf=y
PLACE OF DEATH=Hørbylunde, Denmark

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kaj Munk — (eigentlich Kaj Harald Leininger Petersen; * 13. Januar 1898 in Maribo, Lolland, Dänemark; † 4. Januar 1944 in Vedersø, Dänemark) war ein dänischer Pastor, Poet, Gegner Hitlers und Märtyrer. Kaj Munk Büste in Vedersø …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Kaj Munk — Kaj Munk, fotografía publicada en febrero de 1994. Nombre completo Kaj Harald Leininger Munk Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Kaj Munk — peu de temps avant sa mort. Kaj Harald Leininger Munk (couramment appelé Kaj Munk) (né le 13 janvier 1898 à Maribo, sur l île danoise de Lolland, assassiné par la Gestapo le 4 janvier 1944 à Hørbylunde Bakke, près de Silkeborg) était un auteur… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • MUNK, KAJ° — (pseudonym of Harald Leininger; 1898–1944), Danish pastor and playwright. He showed an unusual interest in Jewish themes and his anti Nazi writings and sermons had an incalculable effect on the Danish resistance movement during World War II.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Munk — steht für: eine Bezeichnung für Murmeltiere den Familiennamen folgender Personen: Andrzej Munk (1921–1961), polnischer Regisseur und Kameramann Britta Munk, ein Pseudonym des dänischen Autors Bengt Janus Nielsen (1921–1988) Hermann Munk… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Munk — is a Germanic surname meaning monk that may also be spelt Munch. Munk may refer to: Andrzej Munk (1920 1961), Polish film director Eduard Munk (1803 1871), German philologist Hermann Munk (1839 1912), German physiologist Jens Munk (1579 1628),… …   Wikipedia

  • MUNK (K.) — MUNK KAJ (1898 1944) Rien n’est plus paradoxal que la destinée de ce pasteur danois, originaire de Maribo, en Lolland, qui fut si marqué par la Première Guerre mondiale et ses suites immédiates qu’il rompit en lisière avec les idéaux qu’il était… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Munk — Munk, Kaj …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Munk, Kaj — ▪ Danish playwright in full  Kaj Harald Leininger Munk   born Jan. 13, 1898, Maribo, Den. died Jan. 4, 1944, near Silkeborg  Danish playwright, priest, and patriot who was a rare exponent of religious drama with a strong sense of the theatre. He… …   Universalium

  • Munk, Kaj — (1898 1944)    A Danish playwright, Munk was raised in a religious home and took a degree in theology, after which he served as a minister in the Lutheran Danish People s Church for the rest of his life. He was also a very productive writer and… …   Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater

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