Monday 15 June 2020

Martin Andersen Nexø (Denmark, 1969)

A stamp to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Martin Andersen Nexø – who I confess I had never heard of until, well, just now.

Nexø was a Danish author with a focus on social (and socialist) realism coursing through his novels. His best known work is Pelle Erorbreren (Pelle The Conqueror), published between 1906 and 1910, a fictionalised version of Nexø’s own life which follows a boy who moves from Sweden to Denmark, grows up and becomes involved in the labour movement. It’s seen as a Danish Les Miserables though without the musical adaptation… A later work – Ditte Menneskebarn (Ditte: Child Of Man), published in 1946 – follows similar themes, tracing the life of a young girl, Ditte, through social and economic hardship.

Nexø was arrested during the Nazi occupation of Denmark in World War II because of his communist sympathies. On his release, he travelled to Sweden, then the Soviet Union, and made anti-Nazi broadcasts to audiences in occupied Denmark and Norway. After the War, he settled in Dresden, East Germany, where he stayed til his death in 1954.

My favourite factoid: there is a planet called Ditte 3535, which was named after the character in Nexø’s book by the astronomer who discovered it.ø 


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