How did Irene Ellefsen come to write about Jens Munk?
In her book JENS MUNK. JAKTEN På NORDVESTPASSASJEN, Irene Ellefsen tells how in early 2016 she had never heard of Jens Munk, but fortuitously came upon his name, which eventually led her to write the book. She was just so inspired by him! Below is what is writes in her book - translated from Bokmål to English by yours truly. Attached is the brief review Otto Christensen of Gimli, Manitoba,
wrote. He found the book informative and authoritative. Regards, Rolf.
Here she is:
Not many people in Norway have heard of Jens Munk. That was true for me too, until one fall day in 2016 when I came across a random page in a thick book. The book was bound in a textile cover with a faded red and golden design. It smelled like an old library. A sentence shone on me from its glossy pages:
"Except for the well-known explorer Jens Munk who went to school in Fredrikstad in 1586-1588, none of the school's pupils in the first period achieved fame."
Who was this famous explorer and why was it the first time I heard about him? The small sentence was pretty well all I found about Munk in this big book, which was actually Volume 1 of
Martin Dehli's Fredrikstad City History. The fact that Jens Munk was a somewhat enigmatic explorer who moreover lived in the Renaissance made me curious. I flipped through Dehli's file, neatly handwritten, yellowed sheets, until I found his source for the information on Jens Munk. It became the first step in a long treasure hunt. During my search for more information, one thought gradually grew bolder. I was going to write a book about Jens Munk!
”Jens Munk - Jakten på Nordvestpassasjen”
Vi har en fantastisk sakprosadebutant på utgivelseslista i høst: Irene A. Ellefsen heter hun, og hun har en fantastisk evne til å gjøre historien levende. I fortellingen om Jens Munk har hun vært tro mot fakta og historiske kilder, samtidig som miljøskildringene er skrevet slik at leseren føler seg omgitt av tiden og historien med alle sanser. Her får du innblikk i en del av historien vår på en ny måte. Nysgjerrig? Da kan du kan bestille et gratiskapittel fra boka her: (see link below)
On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Jens Munk’s journey we have a new book - released August 2019. It is written by Irene Almkvist Ellefsen, who is the curator of the ‘Østfoldmuseene - Frederiksstad Museum’, Norway. The book is written in Norwegian, but can easily be enjoyed by people who read and understand Danish.
Ellefsen writes in the prologue: In my search for information about Jens Munk one idea gradually came to fruition. I should write a book about him. The learning curve was steep and had many detours. Although Munk is best known for his expedition in search for the Northwest Passage, there were many equally interesting episodes in his life. Step by step I have combed through the written sources. (p. 12)
The result is a book of 322 pages with an additional 32 pages of illustrations, charts, and maps, written so as to keep the reader’s attention to the last page. The book is published by Humanist Forlag AS, Oslo. You can download a chapter of the book for free on their webpage: https://www.humanistforlag.no/jens-munk-jakten-paa-nordvestpassasjen.6236173-325676.html?fbclid=IwAR0379DMGGgFIe4bXi8xS9S3c_izP-LmQ-1jmlsgJxNjo8_QuOk_LOaLiDE .
I have not been able to find a review of the book on the web. The above description is based on my own reading. I recommend the book to anyone who wants a more fact-based account of Munk’s life that what you get from Thorkild Hansen’s Book: Jens Munk (Copenhagen, 1965). Hansen was an author rather than a historian. In Ellefsen’s case it is the other way around. The book has been well received in Norway, even suggested as a Fathers’ Day Gift. It is so new that no other language translation is available. My guess is that it is just a question of time before this lack will be remedied. We’ll see.
With all due respect,
Otto Christensen, Gimli, Mb.
- Member of the Jens Munk Commemorative Steering Committee
Federation of Danish Associations in Canada
January 23rd, 2020
In less than two years from now, in 2021, it will be one-hundred years
ago since Knud Rasmussen set out on his Fifth Thule Expedition, which
focussed primarily on Arctic Canada. Perhaps you have read about it in
his book DEN STORE SLÆDEREJSE, which was a bestseller in Denmark, and
which has been re-issued in various editions over the years, due to
popular demand. The book (which would be translated The Great Sled
Journey), is actually a short popular version of his official
scientific Fifth Thule Report.
Between September 1921 and December 1924 the Fifth Thule Expedition
explored vast areas of Arctic Canada, laying the foundation for many
later explorations. The Expedition included Greenlanders as well as
Peter Freuchen, next in command, and Therkel Mathiassen, an
archaeologist and anthropologist. Mathiassen carried out excavations
near Repulse Bay which eventually established that the roots of
contemporary Inuit culture lay in an earlier NeoEskimo culture which
he called Thule.
By sled Knud Rasmussen and a smaller team traveled by dog team across
Northern Canada, following the shore of the Arctic Ocean to Alaska, en
route collecting geographic and ethnographic information as well as
artifacts. The findings of the Fifth Thule Expedition were compiled
into the ten-volume series Report of the Fifth Thule Expedition, which
still today is considered a treasure and an indispensable source for
Arctic studies. The ethnographic reports are highly valued as they
describe the culture, customs, habits and beliefs of the Inuit of the
North. Knud Rasmussen, born in Greenland, spoke Greenlandic and was
therefore able to communicate with the Inuit of Arctic Canada in their
own language, as the languages of the Inuit up north are in many ways
similar to Greenlandic.
In the time to come the Danish Federation will strive to disseminate
information about Knud Rasmussen and his Fifth Thule Expedition to
members of the Danish community and above all to the public at large.
During the anniversary of the Expedition we must do our best to
commemorate and celebrate this historic and ground-breaking
exploration, bringing awareness of it to the general public. The
contribution that the Danes and Greenlanders on this Expedition made
to the history and knowledge of Arctic Canada is truly remarkable, and
should be better known.
Rolf Buschardt Christensen
President, Federation of Danish Associations in Canada
Greenlander Polar Explorer
June 7, 1879
December 21, 1933 (aged 54)
more information: www.britannica.com/biography/Knud-Rasmussen