Friday, July 28, 2023

Denmark Journal: Elsinore

Elsinore Castle (photo by Francis Levy)

Jonas Vingegaard won the Tour de France for the second year in a row and Copenhagen ironically came to a standstill due to the mass celebrations. Such powerful identification with an athlete or country may feel inimical to Americans who now live in a country at war with itself. Copenhagen was the home of Kierkegaard, who lived in a state of dread, but exuberance seems to be the lingua franca of this society. The town of Elsinore is famous for Hamlet’s castle. You see its spires and majestic structure crossing the Baltic on the ferry from Sweden. Shakespeare’s famously gloomy and doubting character whose “to be or not to be” is mirrored in another famous work of the great Danish existentialist philosopher, Either/Or. But the darkness famously  ascribed to the “melancholy Dane” is belied by the local populace who have eagerly marketed his name. Indeed Hamlet draws tourists. There is even a Hamlet hotel. On the day of Vingegaard’s victory a family of Danes was celebrating in Elsinore’s local food court. Their cheeks were covered with patriotic stickers. Spirited and effervescent, they exuded none of their land’s trademark doubt.

read the Kirkus review of The Kafka Studies Department by Francis Levy

and also read Joan Baum's NPR review of The Kafka Studies Department

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