Mogens and Other Stories by Jens Peter Jacobsen. Translated from the Danish By Anna Grabow. In the decade from 1870 to 1880 a new spirit was stirring in the intellectual and literary world of Denmark. George Brandes was delivering his lectures on the Main Currents of Nineteenth Century Literature; from Norway came the deeply probing questionings ...
Mogens and Other Stories by Jens Peter Jacobsen. Translated from the Danish By Anna Grabow. In the decade from 1870 to 1880 a new spirit was stirring in the intellectual and literary world of Denmark. George Brandes was delivering his lectures on the Main Currents of Nineteenth Century Literature; from Norway came the deeply probing questionings of the granitic Ibsen; from across the North Sea from England echoes of the evolutionary theory and Darwinism. It was a time of controversy and bitterness, of a conflict joined between the old and the new, both going to extremes, in which nearly every one had a share. How many of the works of that period are already out-worn, and how old-fashioned the theories that were then so violently defended and attacked! Too much logic, too much contention for its own sake, one might say, and too little art. This was the period when Jens Peter Jacobsen began to write, but he stood aside from the conflict, content to be merely artist, a creator of beauty and a seeker after truth, eager to bring into the realm of literature "the eternal laws of nature, its glories, its riddles, its miracles," as he once put it. That is why his work has retained its living colors until to-day, without the least trace of fading. There is in his work something of the passion for form and style that one finds in Flaubert and Pater, but where they are often hard, percussive, like a piano, he is soft and strong and intimate like a violin on which he plays his reading of life. Such analogies, however, have little significance, except that they indicate a unique and powerful artistic personality.
Publishers Weekly, 1994-03-28 Fjord first introduced English-speaking readers to the 19th-century Danish botanist-turned-poet in 1990 with a new translation of his classic novel Niels Lyhne. This sparkling new translation of six short stories is driven by lyrical descriptions of nature and strong third-person narratives. The sensibilities of Jacobsen's characters mirror the late 19th-century soul and the somewhat anachronistic stories are linked by a common thread of guilt, revenge and its consequences. Tragic circumstances surround love lost and found in the novella-length title tale; unrequited love turns a melancholic young man to revenge in ``A Shot in the Fog''; and a murky river restores a stricken woman to health at a cost in ``Two Worlds.'' The least successful narrative, ``There Should Have Been Roses,'' nonetheless surprises because of its gender-bending conceit: a Roman villa sets the stage for two actresses playing male courtiers discussing women. Italy is also the setting for Jacobsen's tale of social order and its break down in ``A Plague in Bergamo''; while Provence hosts the poignant ``Fru Fonss,'' about a widow who meets her forbidden first love while traveling with her self-absorbed children. Readers should look forward to reading more of this splendid writer. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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