Child of the Earth: Tarjei Vesaas and Scandinavian Primitivism
Hermundsgard's knowledge of Vesaas is undeniable and he has read widely, carefully, and thoughtfully in other sources for this book. He provides a working definition of primitivism (not just a literary style, but a philosophy of life), explains how this is expressed in Vesaas's writing, and demonstrates how the primitivism of Vesaas fits into the context of Scandinavian primitivism in general. He succeeds in presenting this complex thesis in a clear style that encourages the reader to turn to Vesaas's own works not only to verify that thesis but for personal enrichment. Extensive bibliographic notes plus a good primary and secondary bibliography of sources in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German, and English. Choice
A distinguished modern Norwegian novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, and poet, Tarjei Vesaas occupies a unique position in Norwegian and Scandinavian letters. Considered highly individual in his use of lyrical and symbolic language, Vesaas was profoundly concerned with spiritual themes and the interplay of the great forces of the nature. This study examines Vesaas' development as a writer with an eye to his role in the evolution of modernist primitivism in Scandinavian modernist literature.
Hermundsgard begins with a discussion of primitivism and the ways in which primitivist literary, philosophical, and artistic trends from the United States, England, and Europe have influenced Scandinavian writers. Focusing his attention primarily on four of Vesaas' best-known novels, Hermundsgard offers a sensitive analysis of the work and assesses the writer's contribution to the primitivist tradition. The discussion deals with Vesaas' literary legacy in the broader context of Scandinavian primitivist literature. Besides providing new perspectives on a writer who merits a wider English-language audience, Child of the Earth advances some speculations on the emergence of primitivist movements throughout the world. Relevant for classes or studies in twentieth-century Scandinavian and Norwegian literature, the modern novel, and world literature.
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