Claussen, Sophus (1865–1931) By R. Fauth, Søren
Sophus Claussen is considered one of the foremost Danish poets of the period spanning the 19th and 20th centuries. As a regular contributor to the Symbolist journal Taarnet (1893–1894), published by Claussen’s fellow writer and friend Johannes Jørgensen (1866–1956), he became representative of a current which—apart from its Symbolist predicate—might aptly be described in terms of spiritual modernity. Sophus Claussen’s models were Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and Stéphane Mallarmé. In keeping with the so-called “Modern Breakthrough” spearheaded by Danish critic and scholar Georg Brandes, Claussen confronted the Church and traditional Christianity. It was a conflict that led Claussen not to enlightenment, realism and naturalism, but to a continued quest for a spiritual dimension, in direct opposition to the more profane modernism espoused by Brandes. Like the French Symbolists, Claussen perceived the manifestations of the world as representations of an underlying, all-encompassing divine truth with which the poet in his art was compelled to seek affinity. This neo-Romantic yearning towards a higher form of spiritual reality transcending visible (phenomenal) manifestations is accompanied in Claussen’s work by an apprehensive, sceptical consciousness whose only certain knowledge is that of its own ignorance.