Writing idyll

Today was one of those days that I live for in my job. Other than two good conversations with colleagues, the entire work day was filled with nothing but writing. My goal was to get down some preliminary thoughts on the function(s) of the cabins in Steinsamlere and Munnen i gresset. After a typically rough start, things really started to come together, and I got through most of what I wanted to say about Steinsamlere. I was particularly pleased that I was able to integrate the little I wanted to say about Fløgstad’s Det 7. klima in a way that seems to work pretty well without veering too far off track from Steinsamleren. I still need to add a similar section about Løveid’s Østerrike.

The new material on Munnen i gresset was a little more tentative, but I at least got the rough ideas down. I focused mostly on the brief passages in the novel that discuss the “masculine” mountain cabin, with which the “feminine” summer cottage that dominates the text is contrasted. So next up will be a detailed analysis of how the summer cottage functions.

These “feminine” summer cottages (I feel compelled to use quotation marks around the terms masculine and feminine, since I feel like the gendered nature of these spaces is exaggerated in the texts compared to how they function in the real world) are quite interesting to me; while they are “typically Norwegian” in some ways, in another they are not, as they go against the physical exertion, moderation, privation, and extreme nature that tend to dominate cabin discourses. They are comforting idylls connected to domesticity and childhood, easily penetrable/accessible, tucked away in the landscape like the jasmine bush that the the protagonist in Munnen i gresset finds under the long grass in the yard behind the cottage she rents. They are little treasures, but they also hold dangerous secrets for the people who populate them. In a way they call to mind the short stories of Katherine Mansfield and Conrad Aiken–two of my all time favorite writers. Perhaps I should do some reading in the secondary literature on these two to see if there is some terminology or framing that might be applicable to these Norwegian summer cottage texts?

Tomorrow I plan to be on campus again, and hope to add the Løveid section and wrap up a first draft of Munnen i gresset. Thursday I’ll stay home to read Vetle Lid Larsson’s I engelens munn and Øystein Lønn’s Thomas Ribes femte sak. I picked up both at the library today, and I have to admit that they didn’t seem all that appealing based on skimming the first couple of pages. Christensen’s Maskeblomstfamilien melancholic feels like a much better fit right now.

Words written: a respectable 2435

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