Anno 1917

So, since it’s Easter week there’s not a lot of work I can do from home with the family (we’re not one of those Norwegian families who go off skiing in the mountains at Easter. Instead we stay home and do as little as humanly possible). I’ve been reading material for chapter three though. Yesterday I finally finished Markens grøde, which I hadn’t read since graduate school. I sort of have an analysis brewing, but I’m not sure it will work for chapter three. Or rather, it’s not so much an analysis as a response to two recent articles that claim that the novel is a kind of proto-ecocriticism. I think even if you just go through and count the number of buildings that Isak Sellanraa constructs on his farm throughout the course of the novel you already have a counterargument to that claim. Yes, it’s anti-modernization, but that’s a long way from being actively ecocritical. I mean, duh, a truly ecocriticial work would not laud the systematic draining of marshland!

I did  also find a little whisper of the cabin motif in the novel, toward the end when Isak starts to think about building a simple “kårbolig” (the smaller house on a farm that a farmer and his wife retire to once the next generation takes over running the operation). But it’s not much to work with, so I’m letting my ideas percolate while I turn to a much more relevant (and surprisingly well written) novel published in the same year, Mikkjel Fønhus’ Skoggangsmand. Turns out this is a bit of a treasure. It’s clearly inspired by Bjørnson’s “Bondefortællinger” tradition, but in my opinion it’s better written (gasp!). I think there is lots of material to work with here.

I also need to remember to survey Hans Kinck’s writing. Something tells me there may be something there, but I hardly know where to start. One thing at a time, though, so for now it’s Fønhus.

ETA: I forgot to add that I did indeed go in to the National Library on Friday, and spent about two and a half hours surveying the hunting literature. I ended up narrowing it down to six texts that seem to have some potential. They are:

  • J.B. Barth. Optegnelser fra mit Jægerliv. 1865
  • J.B. Barth. Naturskildringer og Optegnelser fra mit Jægerliv. 1877 (oddly, despite the title, this contains completely different texts than the 1865 book)
  • Sophus Aars. I skoven. Erindringer og Billeder. 1886
  • F.O. Guldberg. Kringom Peisen. Jagtminder fra det Sønderfjeldske Norge. 1891
  • Kristian Gløersen. Fra Jagten og Naturen. Småting. 1892
  • Kristian Gløersen. Streiftog. Lidt af Hvert fra Jagten og Naturen. 1897

The problem, of course, is that these are at first glance dreadfully boring for anyone not a hunter (it’s a bit like a non-academic being forced to read an academic blog like this one…). But I know Hamsun loved the genre, so  I do think it’s worth pursuing them, at least a little further.


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