N.F.S. Grundtvig, one of the chief shapers of Denmark's modern identity and still an active force in Danish social, political and religious life, was an outstanding intellect of 19th century Europe. He was the contemporary and dialectical adversary of Søren Kierkegaard, but his copiously documented life's work has nevertheless remained - for want of adequate translations - little known to the English-speaking world.
As the new-Europe reviews the old traditional cultural canon, reflective of the most dominant nations, interest grows in Grundtvig as educationalist, theologian and churchman, historian and literary antiquarian, poet and hymn writer, champion of individual liberty, promoter of 'the Danish folk' and shaper of 'folkelighed', architect of a relatively benign nationalism.
The book will give an international readership a thorough knowledge of the person Grundtvig as well as an insight into the milieu of the Danish church, culture and society of the time. The publication comprises English translations of an extensive selection of Grundtvig's own retrospects upon events, causes and periods of his life, and of memoirs by contemporaries upon whose lives his impinged. The choice of texts follows closely that of Johansen and Høirup's Grundtvigs Erindringer og Erindringer om Grundtvig (Copenhagen 1948) in order that readers wishing to do so may easily find the Danish originals. Texts are arranged in an approximate chronology of Grundtvig's life. A copious index supplies mini-biographies and other documentation of the period, its personalities, institutions and events.