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Norman Berdichevsky teaches Hebrew in the Department of Judaic Studies at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. The author of several books, he is also a professional translator from Hebrew and Danish to English, and lived in Denmark from 1978-1985 while teaching geography at Aarhus Katedralskole.
An Introduction to Danish Culture is an incisive up to date analysis of Denmark and Danish culture by former long term resident Norman Berdichevsky. It is a substantial contribution to the gaps in the English language literature about Denmark. The book covers the essential regional uniqueness of the country's constituent parts including the overseas outliers of the Faroes, Greenland and Bornholm, biographies of eleven important historical figures and contemporary personalities including the Queen and the late great much beloved Danish-American humorist Victor Borge. It examines the Danish language, differences between town and country, the special mind-set of "coziness" known as hygge, cuisine, the famous pedestrianized streets and a look at the great historical epochs of the Viking age and the little known border dispute with Germany over Schleswig-Holstein. Of special interest for Jewish readers are the chapters on the Virgin Islands (former Danish West Indies) and why Jews have had such a long and fortunate relationship with their fellow citizens.
Berdichevsky long standing love affair began with an actual one leading to marriage and his long term connection to the country. His earliest notions of Danish culture were formed as a result of `a healthier approach to social relations, love of the outdoors, rejection of the hard-sell American approach to commercial success, anti-militarism, modesty and anti-snobbery'. These were precisely the things that attracted him to Denmark but like other Americans, he discovered that there is also something "rotten in Denmark" as Hamlet became aware of.Read more ›
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I love this book! Before reading it I had viewed the countries of Scandinavia as all pretty much the same and as, well... bland. How very ignorant of me and embarrassing for someone who has actually traveled widely. I now feel I have a real sense of Denmark's uniqueness, wonders and many contributions to the world. The author even manages to make the technology of ferries, railroads and bridges a fascinating insight into the growing unification of this country. And what a surprise for me to learn that this oldest monarchy in Europe had a two century presence in England, even influencing Anglo Saxon speech. I now finally have such a better understanding of Denmark's relationship to Norway and Sweden, to its long and complicated disputes with Germany's border and to its Jewish population. Berdichevsky brings alive the impressive contributions of 11 world renowned Danes. He creates a new love, for instance, for Hans Christian Andersen going well beyond my previous sense that he wrote fairy tales for children, and a refreshed appreciation, if not quite a deep understanding, of Soren Kierkegaard and of Niels Bohr. The author is obviously very knowledgeable but goes well beyond that to impart a personal and exciting sense of Denmark's history and culture. I now can't wait to visit Denmark and experience the social culture of hygge, walk the gagade streets and feel that I can now appreciate all these experiences so much more fully thanks to this book.An Introduction to Danish Culture
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