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Magnhild Dust   By: (1832-1910)

Magnhild Dust by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

First Page:







Translated from the Norse By RASMUS B. ANDERSON



Copyright, 1882, BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.

All rights reserved.


"Magnhild" was planned during the summer of 1873, while the translator accompanied Mr. Björnson on a journey across Norway. The story is located in Lærdalen and Skarlie's home is in Lærdalsören, a small town at the head of one of the branches of the far famed Sognefjord on the west coast. I well remember with what care the author made his observations. The story was written the following winter in Rome, but was not published until 1877, when it appeared in the original in Copenhagen and in a German translation in the Rundschau simultaneously.

The reader will see that "Magnhild" is a new departure, and marks a new epoch in Björnson's career as a writer of fiction. It is but justice to say that Mr. Björnson himself looks upon this as one of his less finished works, and yet I believe that many of his American readers will applaud the manner in which he has here championed the rights of a woman when she has become united with such a man as Skarlie.

The celebration, on the 10th of August, 1882, of the twenty fifth anniversary since the publication of "Synnöve Solbakken," was a great success. The day was celebrated by his friends in all parts of Scandinavia and by many of his admirers in Germany, France, and Italy. At Aulestad (his home in Norway), more than two hundred of his personal friends from the Scandinavian countries were assembled, among whom may be mentioned the eminent Swedish journalist Hedlund, the Danish poet Drachmann, and the Norwegian author Kristofer Janson. Over Aulestad, which was handsomely decorated, floated Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and American flags. There was a great banquet, at which speeches and poems were not wanting. Mr. Björnson received a number of valuable presents and countless telegrams from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, England, and America.

This volume closes the present series of translations of Björnson's works. The seven volumes[1] now published contain all the novels and short stories that Björnson has written. His other works are, as shown in the biographical introduction to "Synnöve Solbakken," chiefly dramas.

Being thus about to send my last Björnson manuscript to the publishers, I desire to express my hearty thanks to the press and to the public for the generous reception they have given these stories as they have appeared one by one. Those who are acquainted with Björnson's original and idiomatic style can appreciate the many difficulties his translators have had to contend with. I am fully conscious of my shortcomings and am particularly aware of my failure to transmit the peculiar national flavor of Björnson's style, but I have done my best, and have turned his phrases into as good English as I could command. Others might have been more successful, but they could not have taken more pains, nor could they have derived more pleasure from the work than I have found in it. To Auber Forestier, who has kindly assisted me in the translation of the whole series, I once more extend my hearty thanks. Without her able help the work could not have progressed so rapidly. Finally, I commend "Magnhild" to the tender mercy of the critic and to the good will of the reader, and say adieu!



[1] The first edition of Björnson's writings, from which the present edition is arranged, was in seven volumes. "Magnhild" formed the seventh volume, and the present preface is reprinted as it there stood... Continue reading book >>

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