Titler, typografi og andre tilpasninger

Morten Hallager som mediebevidst udgiver af bøger for børn i 1700-tallets sidste årtier

  • Charlotte Appel


Charlotte Appel: Titles, typography and other adjustments. A study of Morten Hallager as a media-savvy publisher of Danish books for children during the last decades of the eighteenth century

This article investigates the involvement of Morten Hallager (1740–1803) in the book business, and how he contributed to shaping a new commodity in Denmark: books for children. Until recently, Hallager has not attracted much scholarly attention due to a traditional focus on authors who made original contributions to Danish literature. However, Hallager’s combined experience as a printer (1771–84), a schoolteacher (from 1785) and an expert in German and French gave him a unique background to act as a transnational agent, introducing European Enlightenment literature for children (by J. H. Campe, C. K. J. Dassel, K. T. Thieme, A. Berquin etc.) to Danish readers.

After an outline of Hallager’s life and career, the article presents a survey of his publications. He was particularly active as an author, translator, compiler and publisher of books for children c.1791–1804 (his last books were published posthumously), and during this period he published 38 individual titles – and 57 editions in all (including 19 second or later editions) – corresponding to c.11 per cent of all Danish titles for a young readership. Four main types of intervention that characterise Hallager’s books for children are analysed. First, he took great care over titles and the contents of title pages. Most of them would include an explicit reference to ‘child’, ‘children’ or ‘youth’, and Hallager would present himself as a schoolteacher and thus an expert in the field. Next, when it came to the physical appearance of the books, Hallager made use of his professional know-how. His initial success, a small reader in sextodecimo from 1791 (reprinted ten times), for example, demonstrated how he made choices concerning format, typeface etc. Third, Hallager made a number of pedagogical adjustments to the translated texts, reflecting his ambition to be as specific and concrete as possible and also to include variety, so that his young readers were never bored. Fourth, the article maps his impressive range of strategies with regard to translating, transforming and ‘localising’ foreign texts, so that they would become more digestible and relevant for a Danish audience.

Finally, the conclusion argues that Hallager’s experience in every role and every position within Robert Darnton’s famous communication circuit (1982) was a key to his success – and may explain his wish to explicate his publishing strategies in great detail. For this reason, a study of Hallager’s publications provides us with new insights not only into his own book business but also into the emerging market for children’s books in general.

Appel, C. (2020). Titler, typografi og andre tilpasninger. Fund Og Forskning I Det Kongelige Biblioteks Samlinger, 59, 71. https://doi.org/10.7146/fof.v59i0.123731