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Mogens and Other Stories
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Jens Peter Jacobsen (1847-1885) described himself as a literary artist eager to bring into literature "the eternal laws of nature, its glories, its riddles, its miracles," A realist writer, significanty ahead of his time, Jacobsen dealt candidly with life as it is lived, with genuine human emotion as it is experienced, and often explored the darker aspects of existence which the more "polite" writers of his time avoided. He began his career as a scientist, translating the works of Charles Darwin into Danish, but turned to literature and became one of the most extraordinary voices in 19th century Scandanavian literature.
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Fjord first introduced English-speaking readers to the 19th-century Danish botanist-turned-poet in 1990 with a new translation of his classic novel Niels Lyhne. This sparkling new translation of six short stories is driven by lyrical descriptions of nature and strong third-person narratives. The sensibilities of Jacobsen's characters mirror the late 19th-century soul and the somewhat anachronistic stories are linked by a common thread of guilt, revenge and its consequences. Tragic circumstances surround love lost and found in the novella-length title tale; unrequited love turns a melancholic young man to revenge in ``A Shot in the Fog''; and a murky river restores a stricken woman to health at a cost in ``Two Worlds.'' The least successful narrative, ``There Should Have Been Roses,'' nonetheless surprises because of its gender-bending conceit: a Roman villa sets the stage for two actresses playing male courtiers discussing women. Italy is also the setting for Jacobsen's tale of social order and its break down in ``A Plague in Bergamo''; while Provence hosts the poignant ``Fru Fonss,'' about a widow who meets her forbidden first love while traveling with her self-absorbed children. Readers should look forward to reading more of this splendid writer. (May)

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