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Garman and Worse A Norwegian Novel   By: (1849-1906)

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In "Garman and Worse: A Norwegian Novel" by Alexander Lange Kielland, readers are invited into the intriguing world of Norwegian society in the late 19th century. Set in the fictional town of Stavanger, the novel explores the complex dynamics between the upper class and the working class, revealing the consequences of societal expectations and personal desires.

The story follows the lives of two families: the Garman family, who are wealthy bourgeoisie, and the Worse family, who belong to the working class. As the narrative unfolds, the author expertly depicts their interactions, shedding light on the stark differences in their lifestyles and beliefs.

One of the novel's strengths lies in its ability to portray the deep-rooted societal divisions of the time. Kielland skillfully illustrates the challenges faced by those attempting to escape their predetermined social positions. Through the characters of Gabriel Garman and Daniel Worse, the author explores the aspirations and struggles of individuals striving to break free from the constraints imposed by their respective classes.

The character development in this novel is exceptional. Each member of the Garman and Worse families is carefully crafted, revealing their unique struggles, aspirations, and faults. Kielland skillfully showcases the inner conflicts faced by these individuals as they confront societal expectations and grapple with their own desires. This character-driven approach adds depth and complexity to the story, making it more relatable and engaging for readers.

In terms of writing style, Kielland employs vivid descriptions that bring the settings and scenes to life. From the bustling streets of Stavanger to the lavish houses of the upper class, the author captures the essence of the Norwegian landscape, enhancing the immersive experience for readers. Furthermore, the use of dialogue is natural and realistic, allowing the characters' voices to shine through and adding authenticity to their interactions.

While the novel mainly focuses on the personal struggles of the characters, it also touches on broader societal themes. Kielland raises questions about the influence of money and social status on relationships, the consequences of striving for societal acceptance, and the power dynamics present within different classes. These thoughtful explorations contribute to the novel's depth and provide ample material for readers to reflect upon.

Yet, despite its strengths, "Garman and Worse: A Norwegian Novel" may not be suitable for those seeking fast-paced action or a plot-driven narrative. This novel is more introspective in nature, delving deep into the inner workings of its characters' minds. Some readers may find this slower pace less engaging, but it ultimately allows for a more profound examination of the novel's central themes.

In conclusion, "Garman and Worse: A Norwegian Novel" by Alexander Lange Kielland is a captivating portrayal of Norwegian society in the late 19th century. Through skillful character development and vivid descriptions, the novel provides an immersive experience, shedding light on the complexities of social divisions and personal desires. While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, those who appreciate introspective narratives and thought-provoking themes will find it a rewarding read.

First Page:


A Norwegian Novel



Authorized Translation by W. W. Kettlewell

London, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1, Paternoster Square Printed by William Clows and Sons, Limited, London and Beccles.



Nothing is so boundless as the sea, nothing so patient. On its broad back it bears, like a good natured elephant, the tiny mannikins which tread the earth; and in its vast cool depths it has place for all mortal woes. It is not true that the sea is faithless, for it has never promised anything; without claim, without obligation, free, pure, and genuine beats the mighty heart, the last sound one in an ailing world. And while the mannikins strain their eyes over it, the sea sings its old song. Many understand it scarce at all, but never two understand it in the same manner, for the sea has a distinct word for each one that sets himself face to face with it.

It smiles with green shining ripples to the barelegged urchin who catches crabs; it breaks in blue billows against the ship, and sends the fresh salt spray far in over the deck. Heavy leaden seas come rolling in on the beach, and while the weary eye follows the long hoary breakers, the stripes of foam wash up in sparkling curves over the even sand; and in the hollow sound, when the billows roll over for the last time, there is something of a hidden understanding each thinks on his own life, and bows his head towards the ocean as if it were a friend who knows it all and keeps it fast... Continue reading book >>

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