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"LANGUAGE is like an instrument that requires to be tuned occasionally. A few times in the course of a century the literary language of a country needs to be tuned afresh; for as no generation can be satisfied to think the thoughts of the preceding one, so no group of men in the world of letters can use the language of the school that went before them.
"With these words Georg Brandes begins his discussion of the influence of J. P. Jacobsen. As Brandes himself was the critic who found new paths, Jacobsen was the creative artist who moulded his native language into a medium fit for modern ideas. At the time when Denmark and Norway had come to a parting of ways intellectually, and the great Norwegians were forming their own rugged style, Jacobsen gave the Danes a language suited to their needs, subtle, pliant, and finely modulated. He found new methods of approach to truth and even a new manner of seeing nature and humanity. In an age that had wearied of generalities, he emphasized the unique and the characteristic. To a generation that had ceased to accept anything because it was accepted before, he brought the new power of scientific observation in the domain of the mind and spirit. In order to understand him it is necessary to follow the two currents, the one poetic, the other scientific, that ran through his life.