Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754), Niels Klims underjordiske reise, oversat efter den latinske original af Jens Baggesen (Kiöbenhavn [Copenhagen]: Johan Frederik Schultz, 1789). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-3316N.
First published in Latin as Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum (1741) by the Norwegian-Danish author Baron Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754), this deluxe edition has a Danish translation by the poet Jens Baggesen (1764-1826). The volume is illustrated with etchings by the Danish Royal engraver Johan Frederik Clemens (1749-1831) after drawing by Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard (1743-1809).
Originally, Holberg went to Germany to have the book published, fearing religious objections in Denmark. The satirical nature of the novel pushes the eighteenth-century boundaries of sexual equality and social morality. The book was, in the end, a tremendous success—“the Danish Gulliver’s Travels”—and Holberg named the “Molière of the North.”
Holberg’s novel describes a utopian society discovered by Niels Klim when he accidentally fell into a hole in the earth’s crust. He finds an underworld where trees are alive and the rules are different. Nicknamed “overhasty” because he moved so much faster than the trees, he becames the King’s messenger and visited twenty-seven different provinces, not unlike Swift’s Gulliver.
Rare Books and Special Collections holds many copies of Holberg’s fantasy, in Latin, English, Danish, and other languages. Here are a few:
Nicolai Klimii iter svbterranevm: novam tellvris theoriam ac historiam qvintae monarchiae adhvc nobis incognitae exhibens e bibliotheca B. Abelini (1741). Rare Books (Ex) 3351.36.1741
Nicolai Klimii iter svbterranevm, novam tellvris theoriam ac historiam qvintæ monarchiæ adhvc nobis incognitæ exhibens, e bibliotheca B. Abelini (1745). Rare Books (Ex) 3351.36.11
Nicolai Klimii iter svbterranevm novam tellvris theoriam ac historiam qvintae monarchiae adhvc nobis incognitae exhibens e bibliotheca B. Abelini (1766). Rare Books (Ex) PT8085 .N5 1766
Niels Klims underjordiske reise; oversat efter den latinske original af Jens Baggesen (1789). Graphic Arts 2004-3316N
Journey to the World Underground: Being the Subterraneous Travels of Niels Klim (1828). Sheide Library 24.2.5
Niels Klim’s journey under the ground; being a narrative of his wonderful descent to the subterranean lands; together with an account of the sensible animals and trees inhabiting the planet Nazar and the firmament (1845). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-2535N