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A Little Norsk; Or, Ol' Pap's Flaxen   By: (1860-1940)

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In "A Little Norsk; Or, Ol' Pap's Flaxen" by Hamlin Garland, readers are transported to the enchanting world of rural Norway in the late 19th century. Through vivid storytelling and well-developed characters, Garland paints a captivating picture of both the beauty and harsh realities of life in this remote region.

The novel centers around the Björnson family, particularly the patriarch, Hans Björnson, affectionately known as "Ol' Pap." Through Ol' Pap's eyes, readers get a glimpse into the struggles and joys of a bygone era. From the intricacies of flax farming to the importance of tradition and community, each chapter offers insights into the rich cultural tapestry of this Norwegian hamlet.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Garland's writing is his ability to transport readers to the Norwegian landscape. His descriptive prose vividly captures the breathtaking beauty of the fjords, the gentle rustling of the birch trees, and the vibrant colors of wildflowers dotting the meadows. This attention to detail creates a setting so vivid that readers can almost smell the crisp mountain air and feel the warmth of the log cabin fireplace.

The characters in "A Little Norsk" are equally memorable. Ol' Pap is portrayed as a compassionate and hardworking man, whose deep love for his family and land shines through every page. His interactions with his granddaughters, in particular, showcase his wisdom and tenderheartedness. Each supporting character, such as the wise village elder or the enigmatic drifter, adds depth to the narrative, allowing readers to explore various facets of Norwegian society.

Furthermore, Garland deftly addresses the universal themes of family, hope, and the passage of time, making "A Little Norsk" a story that resonates with readers from different backgrounds. Whether it is in the heartwarming scenes of family gatherings or the poignant reflections on the changing landscape, the author reminds us of the importance of cherishing our roots and the value of embracing the present moment.

Despite its literary merits, "A Little Norsk" does have a few drawbacks. The pacing, at times, feels sluggish, with certain chapters dwelling over mundane details. Additionally, the dialogue, while authentic in its attempt to capture the Norwegian dialect, may prove challenging for readers unfamiliar with the vernacular.

Overall, "A Little Norsk; Or, Ol' Pap's Flaxen" is an enchanting novel that successfully transports readers to the captivating world of rural Norway. Garland's meticulous attention to detail and his ability to weave a tapestry of love, loss, and resilience make this novel a worthwhile read. Although it may not appeal to those seeking a fast-paced plot, this richly atmospheric story offers a glimpse into a forgotten era and leaves a lasting impression on its readers.

First Page:








Copyright, 1892, By D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.

Printed at the Appleton Press, U.S.A.

On the Plain.

My cabin cowers in the pathless sweep Of the terrible northern blast; Above its roof the wild clouds leap And shriek as they hurtle past. The snow waves hiss along the plain, Like spectral wolves they stretch and strain And race and ramp with hissing beat, Like stealthy tread of myriad feet, I hear them pass; upon the roof The icy showers swirl and rattle; At times the moon, from storms aloof, Shines white and wan within the room Then swift clouds drive across the light And all the plain is lost to sight, The cabin rocks, and on my palm The sifted snow falls, cold and calm.

God! What a power is in the wind! I lay my cheek to the cabin side To feel the weight of his giant hands A speck, a fly in the blasting tide Of streaming, pitiless, icy sands; A single heart with its feeble beat A mouse in the lion's throat A swimmer at sea a sunbeam's mote In the grasp of a tempest of hail and sleet!

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