Karl Adolph Gjellerup
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1917
Born: 2 June 1857, Roholte, Denmark
Died: 11 October 1919, Klotzsche, Germany
Residence at the time of the award: Denmark
Prize motivation: “for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals”
Prize share: 1/2
Karl Gjellerup was born in Præstø, Denmark. The son of a parson, Gjellerup studied theology, but after coming under the influence of Darwinism and the ideas of fellow countryman Georg Brandes, he thought of himself as an atheist. In later years, he once again searched for religion, finding inspiration for his writing in Buddhism. In 1923, Gjellerup settled in Dresden.
Karl Gjellerup’s first novel, An Idealist, A Description of Epigonus (1878), dealt with his personal break from Christianity. His preoccupation with Buddhism is represented in Minna (1889) and The Pilgrim Kamanita (1906), an exotic tale of reincarnation set in India. Gjellerup wrote in Danish until about 1900, when he started writing solely in German, a language he thought helped him develop as an artist.
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