Sunday, May 07, 2023

Fortnightly Book, May 7

 For scheduling reasons, I need to have a fairly short work for the next fortnightly book, particularly one that can be read in about a week without much strain, so I've chosen The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas. Vesaas (1897-1970) is usually considered the mostly likely candidate for the third greatest Norwegian novelist (after Knut Hamsun and Sigrid Undset, who are the obvious rivals for the laurel of greatest). He is distinctive in part because he wrote not in Bokmal, the standard literary form of Norwegian, but Nynorsk, the version of Norwegian developed in the nineteenth century when the Romantics tried to imagine what a form of Norwegian without Danish intrusions would be like. His works are also deliberately short and sparse and heavily symbolic, the intent being to convey as much as possible with as little as possible.

The Ice Palace, a tragic story of a friendship between two girls, is his most famous work, published in 1963. I confess that the summaries make the story sound rather weird and unappealing, but of course, the book may well just be hard to summarize well. In any case, I will see.