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Norse Tales and Sketches   By: (1849-1906)

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NORSE TALES AND SKETCHES

by

ALEXANDER L. KIELLAND

Translated by R. L. Cassie

London

1896

INTRODUCTION

Encouraged by the great and growing popularity of Scandinavian literature in this country, I venture to submit to public judgment this humble essay towards an English presentment of some of the charming novelettes of Alexander L. Kielland, a writer who takes rank among the foremost exponents of modern Norse thought. Although these short stories do not represent the full fruition of the author's genius, they yet convey a fairly accurate conception of his literary personality, and of the bold realistic tendency which is so strikingly developed in his longer novels.

Kielland's style is polished, lucid, and incisive. He does not waste words or revel in bombastic diffuseness. Every phrase of his narrative is a definite contribution towards the vivification of his realistic effects. His concise, laconic periods are pregnant with deep meaning, and instinct with that indefinable Norse essence which almost eludes the translator that vague something which specially lends itself to the treatment of weird or pathetic situations.

In his pre eminence as a satirist, Kielland resembles Thackeray. His satire, although keen, is always wholesome, genial, and good humoured.

Kielland's longer novels are masterly delineations of Norwegian provincial life and character, and his vivid individualization of his native town of Stavanger finds few parallels in fiction.

In conclusion, the writer hopes that this modest publication may help to draw the attention of the cultured British public to another of the great literary figures of the North.

R.L.C.

CONTENTS.

A SIESTA

A MONKEY

A TALE OF THE SEA

A DINNER

TROFAST

KAREN

MY SISTER'S JOURNEY TO MODUM

LETTERS FROM MASTER PILOT SEEHUS

OLD DANCES

AUTUMN

A SIESTA.

In an elegant suite of chambers in the Rue Castiglione sat a merry party at dessert.

Senhor José Francisco de Silvis was a short legged, dark complexioned Portuguese, one of those who usually come from Brazil with incredible wealth, live incredible lives in Paris, and, above all, become notorious by making the most incredible acquaintances.

In that little company scarcely anybody, except those who had come in pairs, knew his neighbour. And the host himself knew his guests only through casual meetings at balls, tables d' hôte , or in the street.

Senhor de Silvis laughed much, and talked loudly of his success in life, as is the habit of rich foreigners; and as he could not reach up to the level of the Jockey Club, he gathered the best company he could find. When he met anyone, he immediately asked for the address, and sent next day an invitation to a little dinner. He spoke all languages, even German, and one could see by his face that he was not a little proud when he called over the table: Mein lieber Herr Doctor! Wie geht's Ihnen?'

There was actually a live German doctor among this merry party. He had an overgrown light red beard, and that Sedan smile which invariably accompanies the Germans in Paris.

The temperature of the conversation rose with the champagne; the sounds of fluent and broken French were mingled with those of Spanish and Portuguese. The ladies lay back in their chairs and laughed. The guests already knew each other well enough not to be reserved or constrained. Jokes and bons mots passed over the table, and from mouth to mouth. 'Der liebe Doctor' alone engaged in a serious discussion with the gentleman next to him a French journalist with a red ribbon in his buttonhole.

And there was one more who was not drawn into the general merriment. He sat on the right of Mademoiselle Adèle, while on the left was her new lover, the corpulent Anatole, who had surfeited himself on truffles.

During dinner Mademoiselle Adèle had endeavoured, by many innocent little arts, to infuse some life into her right hand neighbour. However, he remained very quiet, answering her courteously, but briefly, and in an undertone... Continue reading book >>




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