|About the Book|
This is the story of Norway, of the Norwegians becoming one united people under one national king, from the year 872 AD onward. It is really a light history lecture that might be labeled “Norway’s History in a Nut Shell” as it touches on most of theMoreThis is the story of Norway, of the Norwegians becoming one united people under one national king, from the year 872 AD onward. It is really a light history lecture that might be labeled “Norway’s History in a Nut Shell” as it touches on most of the highlights in the dozen centuries of conflicts and peace, isolation and triumph that has passed since that stunning battle of Hafrsfjord.The author is the Norwegian writer and poet Kristofer Janson. He was born May 5, 1841 and died November 17, 1917. During his long life he published more than fifty literary works and hundreds of articles and papers. Before the famous Norwegian author Alexander Kielland came on the scene in the 1880s, Janson was rated as “one of the four big ones” in Norwegian literature. He was awarded a national writer’s stipend from the Norwegian Storthing, in line with those awarded to the other three giants, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Henrik Ibsen and Jonas Lie.It was Kristofer Janson’s uncanny sense for words and sentence harmonies that made him a celebrated poet and lyricist. Among other things he wrote several songs that became so popular they are often sung in Norwegian schools. He grew up in Bergen, in a wealthy merchant’s home. His father, who also was the American Consul in the city, often found his son reading English books and American literature.Kristofer Janson started his university studies in Christiania (Oslo) in 1859. There he eagerly took part in all kinds of student activities. In the spring o 1865, when he had completed his studies in theology, he had also written his first book. In it he openly addressed several problems that separated the Norwegian farmers and city dwellers. During his studies he had become a close friend of Norway’s then two internationally recognized linguists, Aasmund O. Vinje and Ivar Aasen. After listening to their views and perspectives he believed and often voiced the need for a gradual and all-encompassing merger of the traditional Danish-based ‘bokmål’ in Norway and this new rural dialect-based ‘Nynorsk’. It should all fit into a future common and broadly accepted written language.Even though he himself spoke a vibrant ‘bergensk’, that city-characteristic dialect so closely related to Bokmål, as a writer he appreciated the Vinje-Aasen Nynorsk. The two linguists had constructed it with the intent it would eventually become the common denominator for all of Norway’s differing dialects.Janson had found that this constructed new ‘language’ actually made it well suited for his own writings, which often dealt with economic and societal problems of Norway’s rural population. He knew the dialects of fishermen and farmers often were ridiculed and made the butts of jokes by city people. But a future Norwegian common language would remove or at least minimize such dialectal differences and thus be acceptable to everyone. Thus, he would his part and to write in Nynorsk.He had seen his famous author friends Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson both had been visiting America, so in 1879 he set out himself on an extensive visit and lecture tour in the Mid-West. He was well received by the Norwegian communities, and his talks were well attended. They were mostly talks on popular subjects, such as Norwegian history and culture. But he also discussed economic and political topics, as well as presenting interpretations of old Norse folk tales. The present text is one of those short topics of his.