Science and Literature at The Glyptotek

Johann Wolfgang Goethe once said that science originally had developed out of poetry, and that the two might meet each other again sometime in the future. We may still have to wait for that to happen but why not try to at least reconcile them:

On two afternoons the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in cooperation with the Danish Academy of Language and Literature will present readings of poetic or fictional texts dealing with scientific matters or inspired from science, and short lectures on the relation between science and literature. The lectures will be in English, the readings English or in Danish with subsequent English versions.

Program for Sunday 22 June 2014 16.00-17.30

• Per Øhrgaard: Welcome

• Pia Tafdrup: Tarkovsky’s horses and other poems.Tarkovsky’s horses is a book about my father getting senile and about his death. No doctors could tell me how to treat my father when he got senile. The doctors - and the science do not know much about dementia so I had to find my own way to reach my father during his disease. Therefore this book is a poet´s contribution to find words for the confused mental state and the complicated changes of a human mind.

• Per Øhrgaard: Is there a “third way” in science? Perhaps one could describe the efforts of Johann Wolfgang Goethe as such way. Both poet and scientist, in opposition to both romantic mysticism and upcoming positivism, he developed his own understanding of the relationship between subject and object, man and nature, theoretical reflections and empirical studies.

• Anne Gry Haugland: The nature of the poemFor the Danish poet Inger Christensen (1935-2009), it was as natural to quote science as literary classics. “The nature of the poem” gives an introduction to the philosophy of nature in the writings of Inger Christensen and unfolds the special relationship between literature and science in her poems.

• Astrid Saalbach: (reading in Danish) Brain and Drama.A young man has a skiing accident and loses everything: his family, his company, himself but also something highly un-scientific.

Program for Tuesday 24 June 2014 16.00-17.30

• Per Øhrgaard: Welcome

• Pia Juul: Two short-stories from Dengang med hunden (2005)

• Suzanne Brøgger: When Karen Blixen met Niels Bohr Karen Blixen confided in her friends that when she was infected with syphilis by her husband in Africa, she made a pact with the devil vowing that she would renounce on having a love life, if in return the devil would transform her erotic impulse into stories. And so it happened. From her being in the throes of creation & imagination Blixen would echo the divine answer to the biblical lament of Job, saying yes, she too could have created the crocodile and the hippopotamus – only the creation of the two sexes, female and male, would have been far beyond her own powers of imagination.

• Søren Ulrik Thomsen: Readings of 14 poems from Rystet spejl (Shaken Mirror)

• Jens Bjerring-Hansen: Holberg and the art of communicating science.The talk aims to highlight some of the ways in which science affected the thinking and writing of the playwright, essayist, and historian Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754), in an age where there was no great separation between poet and scientist.


Participation in the event is free of charge but registration on our website is required. For further information, please contact Eva Bang-Hansen on