The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 3, 2011

December 3, 1684

Ludvig Holberg (December 3, 1684 to January 28, 1754) ) was a Scandinavian writer, an author of comedies, and an historian. He also wrote books on the law, and his comedies reflect this background. We read that he,was a deist and "critical of the notion of original sin, instead subscribing to the notion of man's free will."

One of his play is Hexerie eller Blind Allarm, (1723) (translated as Witchcraft or False Alert) is a comedy which gets laughter at the thought of pacts with the devil and magical arts.

Our excerpt though comes from Jeppe paa Bjerget eller den forvandlede Bonde, (1722)  (translated as Jeppe of the Hill). Jeppe is a peasant who is tricked into believing he is nobility, and later, even, a poisoned thief. The characterizations of all the players in this comedy are vivid and one assumes this is to the credit of the author, not the translator. In our excerpt Jeppe is in court for reasons which are not clear to him; he winds up believing he is poisoned.

First Lawyer-... whether ...a person intends to steal, or does steal, he is a thief.
Jeppe—Ah, my gracious judge, I should gladly be hanged, if that lawyer could be hanged at my side.
Second Lawyer—Don't talk that way, Jeppe, you only injure your own cause by it.
....
Jeppe—Ah, poor me! Have I already taken the poison? Ah, goodbye, .... Goodbye, my daughter Martha; goodbye, the apple of my eye! You have your father's face; we look as much alike as two drops of water. Goodbye, my dappled horse, and thanks for every time I have ridden on you...next to my own children I have loved no beast as much as you. Goodbye, Fairfax! My faithful dog and watch; goodbye Moens, my black cat! Goodbye, my oxen, my sheep, my hogs, and thanks for good Company and for every day I have known you. Goodbye— Ah! Now I can say nothing more, I am so weak and helpless....
Ludvig Holberg deserves a wider English audience.

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