THE GREAT CYCLE by Tarjei Vesaas


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Written in nynorsk, the second language of Norway, and published in 1934, this novel has ""a prominent place in the well-established tradition of Norwegian rustic novels,"" according to Harald S Naess's introduction. Indeed, it seems utterly prototypical--hence predictable--even for readers unacquainted with Scandinavian literature. The themes are birth and death, change and continuity, sin and freedom. The characters are stock, beginning with Per, the hero, whose life from six to sixteen provides the perspective; his father is fierce, his mother mild, his young aunt gay, his first love elusive. The plot is standard: calvings, diggings, slaughter, harvest...friendship, loneliness, illness, exploration. All very well handled, in a style whose simplicity remains natural, controls the images, and conveys the feeling of the seasonal ""cycle."" A strong but narrow work, its appeal will be proportionate to the need for additions to the Marginal World Literature shelf and the degree of reader interest in the genre.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1967
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press