Three Comedies

Bjornstjerne M. Bjornson
Three Comedies, by Bjornstjerne
M. Bjornson

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Title: Three Comedies
Author: Bjornstjerne M. Bjornson

Release Date: January, 2005 [EBook #7366] [Yes, we are more than
one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on April 21,
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Language: English
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BJÖRNSTJERNE BJÖRNSON--poet, dramatist, novelist, and
politician, and the most notable figure in contemporary Norwegian
history-- was born, in December 1832, at Kvikne in the north of
Norway. His father was pastor at Kvikne, a remote village in the
Österdal district, some sixty miles south of Trondhjem; a lonely spot,
whose atmosphere and surroundings Björnson afterwards described in
one of his short sketches ("Blakken"). The pastor's house lay so high up
on the "fjeld" that corn would not grow on its meadows, where the
relentless northern winter seemed to begin so early and end so late. The
Österdal folk were a wild, turbulent lot in those days--so much so, that
his predecessor (who had never ventured into the church without his
pistol in his pocket) had eventually run away and flatly refused to
return, with the result that the district was pastorless for some years
until the elder Björnson came to it.
It was in surroundings such as this, and with scarcely any playfellows,
that Björnstjerne Björnson spent the first six years of his life; and the
sturdy independence of his nature may have owed something to the

unaccommodating life of his earliest days, just as the poetical impulse
that was so strong in his developed character probably had its
beginnings in the impressions of beauty he received in the years that
immediately followed. For, when he was six, a welcome change came.
His father was transferred to the tranquil pastorate of Naes, at the
mouth of the Romsdal, one of the fairest spots in Norway. Here
Björnson spent the rest of his childhood, in surroundings of beauty and
peacefulness, going to school first at Molde and afterwards at
Christiania, to pass on later to the Christiania University where he
graduated in 1852. As a boy, his earliest biographer tells us, he was
fully determined to be a poet--and, naturally, the foremost poet of his
time!--but, as years passed, he gained a soberer estimate of his
possibilities. At the University he was one of a group of kindred spirits
with eager literary leanings, and it did not take him long to gain a
certain footing in the world of journalism. His work for the first year or
two was mainly in the domain of dramatic criticism, but the creative
instinct was growing in him. A youthful effort of his--a drama entitled
Valborg--was actually accepted for production at the Christiania theatre,
and the author, according to custom, was put on the "free list" at once.
The experience he gained, however, by assiduous attendance at the
theatre so convinced him of the defects in his own bantling, that he
withdrew it before performance--a heroic act of self-criticism rare
amongst young authors.
His first serious literary efforts were some peasant tales, whose
freshness and vividness made an immediate and remarkable impression
and practically ensured his future as a writer, while their success
inspired him with the desire to create a kind of peasant "saga." He
wrote of what he knew, and a delicate sense of style seemed inborn in
him. The best known of these tales are Synnöve Solbakken (1857) and
Arne (1858). They were hailed as giving a revelation of the Norwegian
character, and the first- named was translated into English as early as
1858. He was thus made known to (or, at any rate, accessible to)
English readers many years before Ibsen, though his renown was
subsequently overshadowed, out of their own country, by the enormous
vogue of
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