Footnotes: rambling in Denmark

Updated 8 August 2015. Not anticipated to be an annual event.

Dansk Vandrelaug (DVL) is the Danish equivalent of the Ramblers. Now while I’m more of a solo flâneuse untrammelled by specialist equipment there’s no denying that both do good works. Somewhere I picked up that DVL published a book called Fodnoter: træk af vandringens historie in 2005, celebrating their 75th jubilee. The publication was supported by a shedload of worthy organisations and funds, including Friluftsrådet, BG-Fonden, Litteratur-rådet, Hielmstierne-Rosencroneske Stiftelse and Kong Frederik og Dronning Ingrids Fond – it’s this sort of support which makes specialist publishing possible in the tiny VAT supported Danish market.

Reviews: Information | Berlingske | LitteraturNu.

The Danish library service duly obliged. The book is a tribute to walking of all kinds, with a selection of writers asked to map a particular part of the walking universe in order to portray walking culture today as well as its role in art and literature. The first part of the book is made up of five chapters on walking from historical and practical standpoints:

  • the history of Dansk Vandrelaug – vandrehjem, fjernvandreveje and naturstier 
  • the latest research into walking’s physical and health benefits
  • Dyrehavevandringer by Jens Meulengracht-Madsen – surveying the oaks of Dyrehaven (in 1933 Christen Christiansen Raunkiær, an emeritus professor from Copenhagen University, had surveyed the oaks, dividing 2000 of them into 35 numbered groups over the years; JMM measured 300 in detail to determine how quickly they had grown)
  • foraging, with recipes
  • discussion of our relationship with nature, linked to the challenges we face in regards to the environment, sustainability, naturopretning and biodiversity

This is followed by seven contributions with the title Vandringsmænd, exploring the role and significance of walking in history and today for artists and writers:

  • translation of Thoreau’s Walking (1862)
  • psychologist Per Lindsø Larsen on engineer and philosopher Ludvig Feilberg (Wikipedia), possibly the nation’s greatest walker; see Denmark’s philosopher of walking
  • survey of other Danish walking writers by editor Martin Gylling, inc Henrich Steffens and Adam Oehlenschläger, whose 16 hour walk led the latter to write Guldhornerne, a classic of Danish Romanticism; also section on Kierkegaard and his menneskebad; another worked up kronik from Politiken, Litterære fodgængere (5 Oct 2003)
  • Dan Turèll’s Gennem byen sidste gang – see Last walk through Copenhagen
  • survey of the significance of walking for painters of Denmark’s Golden Age
  • Martin Zerlang on flanerie in Paris and Buenos Aires
  • Thomas Boberg on walking in the Peruvian Andes

Had to return it to the library well before I was done, but will re-reserve it at some point.

The cover includes this painting of Refsnæs, aka Røsnæs, the most westerly point of Zealand, painted by Johan Thomas Lundbye in 1844. A Danish version of Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer?


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