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Creator / Ludvig Holberg

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Ludvig Holberg, Baron of Holberg (3 December 1684 – 28 January 1754) was a Danish-Norwegian playwright, author, scholar, essayist, and philosopher, who introduced much of the Enlightenment in Denmark. He is mainly remembered for the comedies he wrote for his students at the University of Copenhagen, to perform at the Grønnegade Theatre. Many of his comedies are still among the most popular plays in Danish and he has been named "The father of modern Danish literature" and "The Moliere of the North".


Holberg doubles as a Norwegian author, mainly because he was born in Bergen. Thus, his magnum opus, the tale of Niels Klim, takes place there. But Holberg went to Denmark to take up studies, and came to live there for the rest of his life. In time, he was even made a baron by the Danish king. Most of his plays comment on Danish society at the time.

Notable works include:

  • Comedies:
    • Den Politiske Kandestøber (The Political Tinker)
    • Den Vægelsindede (The Indecisive)
    • Jean de France eller Hands Frandsen
    • Jeppe paa Bjerget (Jeppe from the Hill)
    • Erasmus Montanus eller Rasmus Berg
    • Don Ranudo de Colibrados
    • Den Stundesløse (The Planless)

  • Other works:
    • The tale of Niels Klim and his adventures in the lands under the earth. An early science fiction story, written and published in latin nontheless. His implied social criticism in this work was so serious he had it published in Prague.

Works by Holberg that don't have their own trope pages provide examples of:

  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The sly servant often does at the start of the play. Pernille, who is The Chessmaster in The Planless, even opens the play like this:
    I wager nobody ever wrote a comedy about a planless person before now...
    • The parodic play Ulysses von Ithacien is such a heavy offender on fourth wall smashing that the fourth wall hardly exists. Mostly, it consists of one actor constantly arguing on the Willing Suspension of Disbelief to the point where he breaks off the play completely to end up in fistfights with the other players, before the play defiantly continues, only for the same actor to smash it again. The whole thing dissolves into a dada sequence and a Gainax Ending.
  • Follow the Leader: Henrik Wergeland used the plots of Holberg as a premise for his earliest plays. Later, Henrik Ibsen followed suit, with 'The League of Youth as the greatest offender.
    • Holberg himself owed a lot to Molière, to a point where he essentially stole the entire plotline for The Planless from Le Malade imaginaire/The Imaginary Invalid. Holberg just added two more characters, and the play got even more funny.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Jean de France is his most prominent example - a play featuring a young snob coming fresh from France after some cultural upbringing, who makes a complete ass of himself because nobody actually knows French in his hometown. On another level, many of his characters spice their language with French and German to underline their status (Vielgeschrey, the Nominal Hero of The Planless, constantly adresses his brother Leonard with the words "mon frère").
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  • Gratuitous German: The Planless again - with a Con Man who comes in disguise, ranting in German up to eleven with the sole purpose of confusing the main character even more.
  • He Also Did: A number of political and philosophical essays after the fashion of Voltaire.
  • Hollow Earth: Holberg`s Magnum Opus,The Adventures of Niels Klim features this, because the student Niels Klim falls straight through the earth`s crust to find another solar system on the inside. Here, he meets a number of strange creatures, both on the inner planet Potu, and on the crust itself. The entire book is a crass political satire in the same vein as Gulliver's Travels or Candide
  • Meaningful Name: Don Ranudo - when spelled backwards Ranudo becomes "O du nar" ("Oh, you fool" in Danish)
  • Memetic Mutation: Holberg has contributed a lot of stock phrases and characters to Danish:
  • Older Than They Think: Niels Klim. Our hero drops through the earth crust, to discover an entire solar system on the inside. Eventually, he manages to land on the planet Potu, circling the "inner sun", and all the sentient inhabitants on that planet are walking trees! Holberg managed to beat Tolkien on that subject with almost 200 years!
    • Ulysses von Itacien, and also his rather surreal piece Melampe manages to be the Monty Python equivalent of the Danish enlightenment era.
  • Take That!: Holberg often adressed human flaws, vain behaviour, and the utter silliness of the upper classes. Thus, his Only Sane Man mostly happened to be the servitude, often represented by a Stock Character, split in the male servant Henrik and the female servant Pernille — usually combining a Deadpan Snarker with a wise fool of some sorts. Pernille often solved the problems behind her husband's back. Or Henrik did, or the two of them in tandem. Other variations on this theme are to be found.