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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The People of Hemsö (1887) by August Strindberg

A poweful look from August Strindberg

The People of Hemsö (1887)
by August Strindberg
Norvik Press 2013
Translation by Peter Graves

  Here is another tough book to track down. Twenty dollars for the just published translation by Peter Graves, and not held by San Diego Public Library- had to get it sent from the UCSD library. I think I was musing on this subject earlier- which is that faking that you have read all 1001 Books to Read Before You Die would be pretty easy with an internet connection, so I feel compelled to offer the details surrounding by acquisition and intake of each volume, lest a question be raised about whether I actually completed the task. Unlike Strindberg's first novel, The Red Room, the roman a clef about Stockholm bohemian life, The People of Hemsö is a "proper" novel, about the wholly fictional lives of a group of rural Swedes living on a combination farm/fishery on an isolated fjord.

 A main difference between Strindberg and other early Scandanvian novels like Gösta Berling’s Saga  by Selma Lagerlöf (1890) and The Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun is that Strindberg's third person perspective is less straight forward, less "mythic" than the voice adopted by Lagerlof and Hamsun. Strindberg holds himself back from fully embracing the characters or their concerns, putting The People of Hemso between satire and realism.

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