The moon rose, and the loveliest time of night came. We had all come to sit on the stairs, Both the old ones and young, silent In order to let the emotions take up The old tunes in the loveliest time of night. What I mourn for is what I have interpreted of the bits and pieces left to me, the music, the literature, the sense of Far over the misty mountains cold that raises hairs no matter how many may puke over technology and newfangled young'uns and their contemporary times. One nice result of having set myself on all the Big and Difficult Things is that I can compare millenium old Japanese classics to Nineteenth Century Nobel Prize Winning Literature without any and all daring a peep, so I will go ahead and say Lagerlöf successfully pulls a Genji. Sure, I like Gösta Berling a hell of a lot more than Shikibu's titular soul, but that doesn't mean he's more of a main point than he is a particularly effective fictional device. Into our formula troops Gösta Berling, twelve guests, one major's wife, one heiress, one beauty, one devotee, one countess, the landscape of Selma Lagerlöf's childhood, the history of her riches and the future of her downfall, religion as the hardbound moral work it was meant to be, cultural heritage as it is meant to awe in equal measure, and that 'good' so fought over by pagans and Christianity and whoever else has a hard time with raisons d'être. Beyond that, the differences between the two previously mentioned works of classical status and male-webbed plotlines lie in a matter of worlds, insular Heian court versus sprawling Värmland woods, the latter of more instinctive appeal to my Euro-bred self for its ice, its mythos, the joys of its industry and the hells of its souls.
The novel draws richly on the legends and folk tales of the area, in a way that gives it a texture reminiscent of magic realism. The Danish critic Georg Brandes, who seems to have been responsible for discovering the novel, nonetheless speaks patronizingly of Lagerlöf as a naïve novelist (her warm, living imagination is like a childs. Lagerlöfs narratorial voice, which is one of the glories of this novel, takes on the naivety of the folk-tale narrator at points, but only as part of a complex and articulated strategy. This is anything but a child-like work.
It was hard for me to judge the translation without knowing the book in the original. mexican soap opera (Gosta, "the lord of love", the sinful former priest, wanders full of self-pity and gay (yep the biggest part of this book is overflooded with this word so beware, this word is infectious :D) through the hearts of the women and sometimes the lands and forests.) 4. It's sad that I found nothing, even not a little bit, naturalistic about the characters in the book.
Over the course of the year, Gosta experiences epic love no less than three times, and every month or so a great tragedy or miracle occurs in the region. I read the book in multiple sittings over the course of a few weeks, and this may have been the ideal way to take it in since, structurally, it often has the feel of those great English installment-chapter novels of the Victorian era.
The beginning was interesting and I thought that the book would have talked about Gösta Berling, a disavowed priest, and his adventures. I may say that the book is made by many episodes with several characters, all equalliy important though Gösta Berling is the "gravity center". I also couldn't understand if Gösta Berling is a character of Swedish folktales or if those were stories the author had listened to as a child or if there is something real but with some magic added (witches etc.) or if it's only a piece of fiction.
(Especially when one takes into consideration that the word exotic didn't always mean so very faraway---sometimes it could be found as close as the mediterranean which would surely be equidistant to Sweden if only the location of Western culture could be pinpointed somewhere.) In Varmland there are wolves instead of tigers, dark forests instead of jungles, and glistening snowdrifts instead of tropical flowers. Exotic lands produce romantic heros (blame it on the climate, as Lagerlof in regard to her land and hero) and so Varmland produces Gosta Berling. A man of such refinement can't just slink off into the forest to die however so he ends up living a life of leisure at Ekeby Manor. They continue making merry, there is a flood and famine, unrest among the peasants, Gosta falls in and out of love, there are parties, girls try to kill themselves over him and occasionally succeed until finally Gosta marries. The Saga of Gosta Berling is both a romantic recounting of the adventures of a carefree young man as well as the story of that man's perdition and salvation. The story of the Mistress of Ekeby who is betrayed by Gosta and her faithful cavaliers and cast out of her home as a beggar brings a more interesting redemption story into the narrative. Gosta was indirectly the cause of the circumstances that led to each of their deaths, each of which leaves the book feeling a little lighter, and we are left with a living Gosta, whose life, in comparison, loses some luster. He falls in love with countless girls it never works: one was too innocent to know he was a defrocked pastor and when she finds out she kills herself, one was a cold beauty whose heart did not melt sufficiently for Gosta, another fell in love with him as they sped over a frozen lake in a sledge but when wolves began to pursue them they were forced to make a detour to the house of the man she was promised to and there Gosta leaves her. It is as if the author herself was in love with Gosta Berling and blind to all of his faults.
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Écrite en 1891, La Légende de Gösta Berling est une épopée fantastique où se retrouve déjà tous les ingrédients qui ont fait le succès du Merveilleux Voyage de Nils Holgersson : mythes, nature, romantisme.
Born in the forested countryside of Sweden she was told many of the classic Swedish fairytales, which she would later use as inspiration in her magic realist writings. Her visit to Palestine and a colony of Christians there, would inspire her to write Jerusalem, her story of Swedish farmers converting into a evangelical Christian group and travelling to "The American Colony" in Jerusalem.