Population and its distribution
In the last decade, the Norwegian population has increased by only 320,000 units: this has further reduced the annual growth coefficient from 0.8% (average of the years 1960-63) to 0.7% (average of the years 1970- 73). According to the census of November 1970 the Norway was inhabited by 3,888,305 residents, while the estimates for 1976 assigned the town a popol. of 4,013,000 residents, a value that remains low compared to the European average levels (see table).
As can be seen, the value of the average density remains purely indicative, because while the population tends to gather on the western side, especially in its central and southern sections and along the main fjords (Oslo fjord, etc.), where exploitation is possible of the resources of the soil and the sea, other vast plains of the northernmost and most inaccessible part of the country remain almost depopulated, demonstrating the negative influence of climatic conditions and the natural environment in general on human settlement.
Ethnically, the majority of the population is Norwegian; the number of Lapps (20,000) and that of the Finns (12,000) are slightly contracting. Norwegians do not yet know urbanism in its most exasperated aspects; the population surveyed as urban still does not reach half of the total (42.5% in 1970). The village, surrounded by agricultural areas, has wooden houses painted in bright colors, grouped around the church, often also made of wood and very old (Staikirker). About one eighth of the population lives in Oslo (464.900 residents In 1975), which is also the main maritime, cultural, industrial and commercial center of the country, favored by its eccentric and gravitating position towards Sweden, Denmark and the North Sea.
According to 800zipcodes, the other cities of some importance are almost all coastal (Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Drammon, Ålesund, Narvik); however, in recent times there has been a very slight shift of the economic axis towards the interior of the country, thanks to the strengthening of some industrial centers, such as Odda, Grong, Rossaga, Hura, mainly linked to thermo-hydroelectric plants.
When, after the Second World War, a new periodical of literature, art and music was founded in Oslo, Vinduet (“The window”, 1947), Norwegian culture came for the first time in direct contact with those Anglo-Saxon German and French writers which, until today, have largely dominated the literary twentieth century.
While the older generation belatedly declined (at ninety K. Hamsun wrote his latest book: Pågjengrodde stier, “On paths covered with grass”, 1949; J. Falkberget completed his fictional cycle at eighty: Nattens brød, “The bread of the night”, 1959) young people who had established themselves immediately after the war (eg K. Holt, born in 1917; T. Stigen, born in 1922; S. Evensmo, born in 1912, and others) did not leave a lasting impression on themselves. More original appeared the writers of the middle generation, more or less all psychoanalytically inclined. Among these writers stand out such as S. Hoel (1890-1960), who did not tire, in lucid narrative and critical prose, of giving his compatriots a clear vision of the post-war world and above all of the dictatorship, overthrown in Germany, but flourishing in other countries (Møte ved milepelen, “Meeting at the milestone”, 1947; Stevnemøte med glemte år, “Appointment with forgotten years”, 1954); A. Sandemose (1899-1965), confused but tenacious investigator of the demonic in man (En flyktning krysser sitt spor, “A fugitive erases his tracks”, 1933; Varulven, “The werewolf”, 1958); J. Borgen (born in 1902), critic, narrator and playwright, who, even in the most recent novels (Jeg, “Io”, 1959; Den store havfrue, “The great siren”, 1973), shows that he knows how to alternate the investigation psychological with the history of costume, fantastic lightness with moral satire; T. Vesaas (1897-1970), prolific narrator and subtle interpreter of the tragedy of the vanquished and excluded from life (Vindane, “I Vènti”, 1952, Venice award; Fuglane, “The birds”, 1957; Is-slottat, “The Ice Castle”, 1963) in a gaunt, naked, and sometimes compressed to enigma style.
As and more than in the other Nordic countries, in Norway the discussion of the social problems connected to the industrialization of the country occupies the forefront of contemporary literature: of fiction as of theater and – except for the hermetic lyric, the last offshoot of French surrealism – also of poetry. A prominent writer such as A. Øverland (1889-1968), ferocious anti-Nazi, anti-Communist (after the Moscow trials and the Russo-German pact of 1939) and anti-Christian, despite his paradoxical religiosity, resumed, as soon as he escaped the camp of German concentration, to preach to young people the Nietzschean faith in art at the service of life (Vi overlever alt, “We survive everything”, 1945; På Nebo bjerg, “On the mountain of Nabu”, 1962); and next to him, even if spiritually distant from him, a whole host of rebellious and discontented writers have, in novels, dramas, and radio plays, declared war on the Norwegian welfare state, which quickly emerged after World War II. Thus F. Carling (born in 1925) denounced the neglect and prejudices of the social organization towards the blind (Blind verden, “The world of the blind”, 1962) or towards homosexuals (De homofile, 1965); A. Mykle (born in 1915) was put on trial for an anti-Puritan, but artistically very weak novel (Sangen om den røde rubin, “The song of the red ruby”, 1956); J. Bjørneboe (born 1920) has indicted, among other things, Den onda hyrde, “The Bad Shepherd”, 1960), and, not many years ago, he gained fame throughout Scandinavia with a drama (which takes place in Italy) on the not forgotten Nazi barbarism (Fugleelskerne, “Those who love birds “, 1966).
The lyric, apart from that of the Resistance (A. Øverland, G. Reiss-Andersen, 1896-1964; I. Hagerup, born in 1905; Norway Grieg, 1902-1943, and many others), has long struggled to assimilate the suggestions of surrealism mediated by the Swedish examples of the 1940s. Despite the experiments of individual precursors such as R. Jacobsen (born in 1907), such as C. Gill (born in 1910), such as E. Boyson (born in 1899), some translators of Eliot and Pound, it can be said that only the youngest (P. Brekke, born in 1923; PR Holm, and G. Johannesen, both of 1931; T. Obrestad, of 1938) and among these above all S. Mehren (of 1935) show, in terms of technique and of style, to have fully understood the lesson.