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One of Life's Slaves   By: (1833-1908)

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ONE OF LIFE'S SLAVES

by

JONAS LIE

Author of "The Visionary," etc. etc.

Translated from the Norwegian by Jessie Muir

London Hodder Brothers 13 New Bridge Street, D.C. Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co., London & Edinburgh

1895

PREFACE

In a review which appeared in the Athenæum , of a translation of one of Jonas Lie's earlier works "Den Fremsynte" ("The Visionary") the reviewer expressed a hope that I would follow up that translation with "an English version of Lie's 'Livsslaven,' that intensely tragic and pathetic story of suffering and wrong." It is in accordance with this suggestion that the present volume makes its appearance.

In taking Christiania life for the subject of "Livsslaven," Jonas Lie attempted for the second time to break down the preconceived opinion of critics, that such a subject did not come within his province. They were accustomed to have tales of sea life from his pen, and could not readily be persuaded that another sphere of life might afford equal scope for his talent. "Thomas Ross," published in 1878, had treated of Christiania life, and had attracted but little attention; and now, in the spring of 1883, appeared this "story of a smith's apprentice, with his struggles for existence and his ultimate final failure owing to the irresistible indulgence of a passionate physical instinct." At first this too seemed to be a failure. To use the words of Arne Garborg, a Norwegian author and critic, Lie "had spoken cried out in the passion or agony of his soul, and people stood there quite calm and as if they had heard nothing;" there seemed to be a total lack of sympathetic comprehension on the part of the public. In the end, however, the book found its way to the hearts of its readers, and, to quote Mr. Gosse's words on the subject, "achieved a very great success; it was realistic and modern in a certain sense and to a discreet degree, and it appealed, as scarcely any Norwegian novel had done before, to all classes of Scandinavian society."

Lie himself, in speaking of this work, says that a writer should "aim at presenting his subject in such a way that the reader may see, hear, feel, and comprehend it with the utmost possible intensity." This precept he has certainly put into practice in the present instance, for the subject is treated with such power and so full a grasp, that in reading the book one feels an actual anxiety, an oppression as of approaching disaster. This, at any rate, is the case with the original, and I trust that its power has not been altogether lost in the process of rendering into another language, but that the stamp of genuineness, the author's leading characteristic, may to some extent be found also in this translation.

J. MUIR.

CHRISTIANA,

November 10, 1894.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. NEGLECTED RESPONSIBILITIES

II. A STRICT DISCIPLINARIAN

III. A FIGHT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

IV. A STOLEN INTERVIEW

V. AMONG THE UNEMPLOYED

VI. THE FACTORY GIRLS

VII. "THE WORLD IS RIGHT ENOUGH AFTER ALL"

VIII. AN UNEXPECTED ARRIVAL

IX. AN IMPORTANT STEP TAKEN

X. A RISE IN LIFE

XI. THE WEDDING POSTPONED AGAIN

XII. THE FAIR AND THE CONVICT

CHAPTER I

NEGLECTED RESPONSIBILITIES

"Like a prince in his cradle," you say, "with invisible fairies and the innocent peace of childhood over him!"

What fairy stood by the cradle of Barbara's Nikolai it would be difficult to say. Out at the tinsmith's, in the little house with the cracked and broken window panes in the outskirts of the town, there was often a run of visitors, generally late at night, when wanderers on the high road were at a loss for a night's lodging. Many a revel had been held there, and it was not once only that the cradle had been overturned in a fight, or that a drunken man had fallen full length across it.

Nikolai's mother was called Barbara, and came from Heimdalhögden, somewhere far up in the country a genuine mountain lass, shining with health, red and white, strong and broad shouldered, and with teeth like the foam in the milk pail... Continue reading book >>




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