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Synnove Solbakken

peasants, bjornson and peasant

SYNNOVE SOLBAKKEN; sol bak'ken, a peasant-romance by Bjornstjerne Bjornson, was published in 1857. Without any knowledge of •Auerbach's Dorfgeschichten' or George Sand's country tales, Bjornson introduced this very type of the short story in Norwegian literature. His thorough knowledge of the peasant class and his study of the old sagas furnished the ma terial on which his peasant stories are based. 'SynnOve Solbakkeri' met with instant acclaim and has been translated into most European languages. Thorbjorn, the hero of the story, is a peasant's son, and Synnove, the heroine, is a peasant's daughter. Thorbjorn has a fiery temper, in fact, he is something of a savage and must, therefore, pass through a hard or deal before he can become a fit husband for the gentle and lovable Synnove. This bitter experience tests the devotion of the young peo ple for one another and contributes to bring everything to a happy conclusion. Bjornson idealized the peasants of his country. This is

due partly to his fondness for the old sagas, partly to his own poetic temperament. His peasant types are decidedly above the average in poetic endowment. They are often able to ex press their feelings in beautiful poetry, as Synnove did when she received Thorbjorn's letter written on his sick-bed. Bjornson's peasants are noted for terse speech and this trait too, is in imitation of the saga style, for 'Bjornson wanted to show that the peasants of to-day had more faithfully than any other class in modern society preserved the tradi tions of a historic past. Consult Jaeger, Henrik, 'Illustreret norsk Literatur historic' (II, 589 639 and 711-768) ; Brandes, Georg, • 'Det Moderne Gjennebruds Maend) (pp. 1-69, trans. by Mary Morison in a volume- entitled 'Henrik Ibsen. Bjarnstjerne Bjornson. Critical Studies, by Georg Brandes,' 1899).