Vesaas, Tarjei

(1897-1970)
   A Norwegian novelist, short story writer, poet, and playwright, Vesaas is one of the great innovators in Norwegian modernism. He started out writing books that offer a mixture of traditional psychological realism, symbolism, and stylized narration. Two of the more notable early novels are Dei svarte hestane (1928; The Black Horses), which is characterized by psychologically complex characters, and Det store spelet (1934; tr. The Great Cycle, 1967), a vitalistic portrait of farm life set in a rural community in his native Telemark; this novel gave Vesaas his breakthrough as a writer.
   The first example of Vesaas's mature work came after he had published two collections of short stories and 13 novels. The novel Kimen (1940; tr. The Seed, 1964) combines realistic narrative with allegorical structures of meaning, presenting them in a terse, almost minimalist style. It tells about an island to which an unbalanced man comes and then experiences an incident that triggers his latent madness so that he kills a young girl. His fit of insanity is then replicated in the community as the locals hunt him down and kill him in a collective frenzy, after which they realize that they have, at least temporarily, lost their claim to civilization. As they try to work through what has happened to them, they renew their commitment not to allow irrational forces to take over their lives. Kimen can easily be read as an allegory of World War II, including the dangers involved in fighting evil with evil.
   Vesaas wrote Huset i mørkret (1945; tr. The House in the Dark, 1976) during the war, and his novel can be read not just as an allegory of the German occupation of Norway but of occupation or totalitarianism in general. The protagonist, Stig, is the leader of a resistance group, and even though he is murdered by the occupiers, there is greater hope for freedom at the end of the novel than at the beginning. Symbolism is also central to Vesaas's next novel, Bleikeplassen (1946; tr. The Bleaching Yard, 1981), as well as Tårnet (1948; The Tower), Signalet (1950; The Signal), and Brannen (1961; The Fire); allegory and symbolism are so pervasive in these novels that their narrative coherence suffers at times. There is both realistic action and psychological drama in the short novel Vaårnatt (1954; tr. Spring Night, 1964).
   Vesaas published his first volume of poetry, Kjeldene (1946; The Springs), shortly after the end of the war. Most of these poems are in traditional form, but that changed in the next collection, Leiken og lynet (1947; The Game and the Lightning), which was entirely in free verse. Vesaas's poetic modernism continued in Lykka for ferdesmenn (1949; Happiness for Travelers), Løynde eldars land (1953; tr. Land ofHidden Fires, 1973), and Ver ny, vaår draum (1956; Be New, Our Dream).
   Vindane (1952; The Winds), his third collection of short stories, is considered excellent, as are some of the stories in Ein vakker dag (1959; A Beautiful Day). The title character in one of the stories from Vindane, "Tusten," became the protagonist in one of Vesaas's most successful novels, Fuglane (1957; tr. The Birds, 1968). Mattis, nicknamed Tusten, is a developmentally delayed man who lives in close harmony with nature and has many characteristics of the artist. There is no place for him in the world of practical men, however, and he seeks death in the end of the book.
   Death is also an important theme in the novel Isslottet (1963; tr. The Ice Palace, 1966), for which Vesaas received the Nordic Literary Prize in 1964. It tells about two 11-year-old girls, Siss and Unn, and their friendship. Siss is outgoing and friendly, while Unn is an introvert. On the realistic level the ice palace is a huge frozen waterfall; Unn gets lost and freezes to death while exploring it, so it seems to symbolize those things in life that are attractive but dangerous. Human relationships, illuminated through symbolism, are also at the core of the novel Bruene (1966; tr. The Bridges, 1969), in which a young couple becomes a threesome after the harrowing experience of finding a dead baby in the woods and wondering what to do about its mother.
   In the poetry collection Baåten om kvelden (1968; tr. The Boat in the Evening, 1971) an old man looks back at his life. Another volume of poetry, Liv ved straumen (1970; Life by the River), was published posthumously.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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  • Vesaas, Tarjei — ▪ Norwegian author born Aug. 20, 1897, Vinje, Nor. died March 15, 1970, Vinje       Norwegian novelist and short story writer whose symbolic and allegorical narratives won him much recognition in Norway and other European countries.       A… …   Universalium

  • Vesaas — Tarjei Vesaas (* 20. August 1897 in Vinje, Provinz (Telemark); † 15. März 1970 in Oslo) war ein norwegischer Romancier, Lyriker und Dramatiker. In seinem Heimatland wird er zu den bedeutendsten Autoren des 20. Jahrhunderts gerechnet. Er wurde… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Tarjei Vesaas — (* 20. August 1897 in Vinje, Provinz Telemark; † 15. März 1970 in Oslo) war ein norwegischer Romancier, Lyriker und Dramatiker. In seinem Heimatland wird er zu den bedeutendsten Autoren des 20. Jahrhunderts gerechnet. Er wurde mehrmals für den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Tarjei Vesaas — Tarjei Vesaas, né à Vinje (comté du Telemark) le 20 août 1897, décédé à Oslo le 15 mars 1970, est un écrivain norvégien de langue néo norvégienne (nynorsk). Son œuvre est dominée par les thèmes existentiels du Mal, de l… …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Tarjei Vesaas — (August 20 1897 March 15 1970) was a Norwegian poet and novelist. Born in Vinje, Telemark, Vesaas is widely considered to be one of Norway s greatest writers of the twentieth century and perhaps its most important since World War II.Vesaas spent… …   Wikipedia

  • Vesaas —   [ veːsoːs], Tarjei, norwegischer Schriftsteller, * Vinje (Provinz Telemark) 20. 8. 1897, ✝ Oslo 15. 3. 1970; Bauernsohn; gilt als einer der bedeutendsten modernen norwegischen Autoren. Seine Themen, die er sprachlich in Nynorsk gestaltete,… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Halldis Moren Vesaas — (November 18 1907 ndash; September 8 1995) was a Norwegian poet, translator and writer of children s books, writing in nynorsk.She was born in Trysil and won great acclaim in Norway for her brave and personal expressions of women s life in its… …   Wikipedia

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