The Classical World in a Norwegian Workers' Encyclopedia: Arbeidernes Leksikon (1931–1936)

Authors

  • Eivind Heldaas Seland University of Bergen, Norway

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/clotho.4.2.29-45

Keywords:

book history, classical reception, encyclopedias, counterculture, historical narratives

Abstract

The Norwegian Arbeidernes leksikon, “Workers’ Encyclopedia,” was published in six volumes from 1931–1936. It was inspired by The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, explicitly aimed at working-class readers, and establishing an alternative to the hegemonic bourgeoise discourse. The editors and many of the contributors belonged to the Communist Party of Norway (NKP) and the independent communist intellectual organization Mot Dag (“Towards Dawn”). This article investigates the reception and representation of the ancient world in Arbeidernes leksikon based on selected articles through the lens of narrative theory. Classical education was traditionally the domain of the upper classes. It is argued that the Workers’ Encyclopedia demonstrates that reorienting the reception of ancient history was considered essential both to rewrite history according to Marxist doctrine and to establish workers’ culture as a full-fledged alternative to its bourgeoise counterpart. In the Workers’ Encyclopedia, the classical past is celebrated not for its empires and rulers but for the effort of the masses and their struggle for freedom.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Arbeiderbladet. “Et arbeidernes leksikon.” September 10, 1931, 3.

ARK 1065, Erling Falk, Arbeiderbevegelsens arkiv og bibliotek, Oslo.

ARK 1140, Jakob Friis, Arbeiderbevegelsens arkiv og bibliotek, Oslo.

ARK 1536, Trond Hegna, Arbeiderbevegelsens arkiv og bibliotek, Oslo.

ARK 1719, Mot Dag, Arbeiderbevegelsens arkiv og bibliotek, Oslo.

Berg, Siv Froydis, Helge Jordheim, and Oivind Berg. All verdens kunnskap: leksikon gjennom to tusen ar. Oslo: Press, 2012.

Berggrav, Eivind. ‘Magasinet’: Bladet som skapte kulturhistorie. Oslo: Tiden, 1979.

Carrard, Philippe. Poetics of the New History: French Historical Discourse from Braudel to Chartier. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Friis, Jakob, and Trond Hegna. Arbeidernes leksikon. Oslo: Arbeidermagasinets forlag, 1932–1936.

——— . Bevegelsen Og Malet: Mitt Liv i Arbeiderbevegelsen, edited by Per Maurseth and Aage Friis. Oslo: Res publica, 2011.

Hovde, Kjell-Olav. “Arbeidernes Leksikons litteraturhistorie for fremtiden: En undersokelse av genreforhandlinger mellom Arbeidernes Leksikon (1931–36) og Aschehougs Konversationsleksikon (1920–25) med vekt pa litteraturhistorieskriving i leksikongenren.” MA Thesis. University of Oslo, 2009.

Lowenthal, David. The Past Is a Foreign Country. Cambridge: University Press, 1985.

Maurseth, Per. Gjennom kriser til makt: (1920–1935). Oslo: Tiden, 1987.

Paulsen, Andreas. “Arbeidernes Leksikon.” Bergen Arbeiderblad, March 17, 1931, 6.

Pedersen, Bjorn Tore. Det var der vi ble til: ArbeiderMagasinet som folkeopplyser og samfunnsdanner. Tvedestrand: Bokbyen forlag, 2016.

Prodöhl, Ines. Die Politik des Wissens: Allgemeine Deutsche Enzyklopädien Zwischen 1928 und 1956. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010.

Pryser, Tore. Klassen og nasjonen: (1935–1946). Oslo: Tiden, 1988.

Rüsen, Jörn. History: Narration, Interpretation, Orientation. New York: Berghahn Books, 2005.

Veyne, Paul. Comment on écrit l’histoire: Essai d’épistémologie. Paris: Du Seuil, 1971.

White, Hayden. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.

Downloads

Published

23. 12. 2022

Issue

Section

Articles

How to Cite

Seland, Eivind Heldaas. 2022. “The Classical World in a Norwegian Workers’ Encyclopedia: Arbeidernes Leksikon (1931–1936)”. Clotho 4 (2): 29-45. https://doi.org/10.4312/clotho.4.2.29-45.