Tarjei Vesaas

These past few years I’ve read quite a lot of fiction by Norwegian authors, such as Knut Hamsun, though my favorite has to be Tarjei Vesaas. Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature on 30 occasions, Vesaas dealt heavily in such themes as guilt and I guess this struck a cord with me as for years I struggled with this myself, as after I received the double lung transplant, I felt like I wasn’t making the most of this extraordinary gift, and the weight I felt on behalf of the donor family, and what they had given me, pressed very heavily upon me – but apparently not heavily enough, as if it had, I would have made a greater effort to take advantage of their family member’s lungs. But that burden has lessened now, as I’m now getting out a lot more now and feeling much happier.


Getting back to Vesaas, two of his major works are ‘The Ice Palace’ and ‘The Birds’, generally it’s considered the former is his greatest work, but personally The Birds is my favorite. The Birds, like many of Vesaas’ work, is set in an isolated, rural Norwegian village, and centers on Mattis and Hege. Mattis is around middle aged but has learning difficulties, and Hege, his older sister, must look after him while eking out a modest living knitting clothes. It’s a tiresome existence for her. This routine is interrupted when a lumberjack shows up and falls in love with Hege, and Mattis is afraid he’ll lose his sister forever.

Vesaas’ prose is so sensitive when dealing with Mattis, and overall the story he paints is so beautiful, and tragic, and heartbreaking. It really blew me away when I read it a couple years ago.


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