Abraham Viktor Rydberg
(Jönköping, December 18, 1828 – Djursholm, September 21, 1895) was a Swedish writer and a member of the Swedish Academy, 1877-1895. "Primarily a classical idealist", "Viktor Rydberg, poet, novelist, essayist, idealist philosopher and one of the prominent figures in Swedish intellectual life in the latter half of the nineteenth century", has been described as "Sweden's last Romantic" and by 1859 was "generally regarded in the first rank of Swedish novelists." "The leading cultural figure of his day, he also wrote works on philosophy, philology, and aesthetics." As "an idealist faithful to the Romantic tradition in poetry and thought, but with a mind receptive to the ideas of a new age, he achieved an unequalled position of authority in Swedish literature" and "with his broad range of achievements, greatly influenced Swedish cultural life" He came to be described by subsequent biographer Judith Moffett as "a 'man of letters': a journalist, novelist, poet, religious historian, an expert on Norse mythology and the history of ideas, an all-around cultural leader." Of him, a trio of scholars at the University of Cambridge in 1951, write:
"One writer, par excellence, represents the transition from idealism of the 'Nyromantik' ['New Romantic'] to the Naturalism of the '80s. Viktor Rydberg (1828-1895) was a radical, largely self-educated journalist, who ended up as a professor at the newly founded University (Högskola) of Stockholm, and the Grand Old Man of the Swedish Academy, novelist, poet, philosopher, he owes his place in the history of Swedish literature before 1879 principally to his ideological novel The Last Athenian ('Den siste Athenaren', 1859) and his philosophical treatise The Bible's Doctrine Concerning Christ (Bibelns lära om kristus, 1862). In both of these works he attacks the narrow orthodoxy of the Church, implicitly or explicitly. Rydberg was a fighter for broader perspectives and loftier ideals, in fact for a better world."
Fredrik Böök sums up Rydberg as a metaphysical: "He saw the ideas of things, not the things themselves, the eternal, the overall patterns not the shifting multicolor phenomena of this world." "It is as an exegetic researcher that Rydberg's influence on the history of ideas is the greatest." His work has "plainly been seen as the breakthrough of religious liberalism in Sweden." Rydberg's works on the history of religion and comparative Indo-European studies has not been recognized to the same extent, but “[p]riority for Sweden should be given to the writer and poet Viktor Rydberg who, although an amateur, was a forerunner of comparative Indo-European studies.” "He was a constant student of the customs, philosophies, and religions of the ancients, and in a utilitarian age he avoided that close analytical study of the conditions of life about him which gives us our realists of this era." "Rydberg fell between idealism and Naturalism, for as a novelist, poet, and critic, he began as a radical journalist and ended as a professor and author of philosophical poems." "Viktor Rydberg, perhaps the most important of Sweden's writers in the second half of the nineteenth century, whose Platonic ideas were extremely influencial", as an idealist and a romantic, had little influence on the next generation of writers, dominated by realism. "With the death of Rydberg, the last ideal barrier against the invading realism falls."