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  • Ole Lund Kirkegaard. En livshistorie (Ole Lund Kirkegaard. A life story)
  • Ines Galling
Jens Andersen , Ole Lund Kirkegaard. En livshistorie (Ole Lund Kirkegaard. A life story) . København: Gyldendal 2010 301pp ISBN 9788702095265 DKK 300.00

In the year 2010, Danish author Ole Lund Kirkegaard would have celebrated his seventieth birthday. But Kirkegaard, whose imaginative and unconventional signature-style illustrations of Lille Virgil (1967) or Gummi-Tarzan established him as one of the innovators of Danish [End Page 70] children's literature, died at only thirty-eight years of age. While he is hardly known outside Denmark, his work is immensely popular to this day in his home country. With this "livshistorie" (life history), Jens Andersen, author of several biographies (including a much praised biography of Hans Christian Andersen), brings Kirkegaard back to life. Except in the prologue, which can be read as a proleptic summary, Andersen follows the chronological order of events beginning with Kirkegaard's childhood, describing his work as a teacher, his sudden artistic success, and the productive phase in the late sixties, early seventies, and ending with his gradual physical (and mental) decline.

At times anecdotal, at times deliberately low key to avoid speculation, Andersen's style is as compelling as it is convincing. He lends voice to people who were close to Kirkegaard and includes many photographs as well as excerpts of letters and newspaper articles, thus successfully offering insights into the artist's life and character. Andersen clearly diagnoses Kirkegaard's absolute desire for independence and traces how his success led to rising expectations that eventually destroyed him. Since his primary aim is a psychological portrait of the man Ole Lund Kirkegaard, Andersen does not analyze his literary work in detail. Those interested in learning more about this aspect will enjoy Torben Weinreich's study, Ole Lund Kirkegaard - Et forfatterskab (Ole Lund Kirkegaard -His Work), published by the same press in 2010. It presents Kirkegaard's books individually and places them within the larger context of his oeuvre.



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