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At this time the Norwegian stage was almost entirelyin the hands of the Danes, and all the moreprominent actors were of Danish birth. Theatricalmanagers drew freely on the dramatic treasuresof Danish literature, and occasionally, to replenishthe exchequer, reproduced a French comedy orfarce, whose epigrammatic pith and vigor weremore than half-spoiled in the translation. Thedrama was as yet an exotic in Norway; it had noroot in the national soil, and could accordingly inno respect represent the nation's own struggles[Pg 9]and aspirations. The critics themselves, no doubt,looked upon it merely as a form of amusement, athing to be wondered and stared at, and to be dismissedfrom the mind as soon as the curtaindropped. Björnson, whose patriotic soul couldnot endure the thought of this abject foreign dependence,ascribed all the existing abuses to thepredominance of the Danish element, and in aseries of vehement articles attacked the Danishactors, managers, and all who were in any way responsiblefor the unworthy condition of the nationalstage. In return he reaped, as might havebeen expected, an abundant harvest of abuse, butthe discussion he had provoked furnished food forreflection, and the rapid development of the Norwegiandrama during the next decade is, no doubt,largely traceable to his influence.
italian movie download Race for the Golden Treasure
During this period of national self-assertionBjörnson has unfolded a colossal activity. Thoughholding no office, and steadily refusing an electionto the Storthing, he has been the life and soul ofthe liberal party. The task which he had undertakengrew upon his hands, and assumed wider andwider dimensions. As his predecessor Wergelandhad done, and in a far deeper sense, he consecratedhis life to the spiritual and intellectual liberationof his people. It is told of the former that he wasin the habit of walking about the country with hispockets full of seeds of grass and trees, of which[Pg 49]he scattered a handful here and a handful there;for, he said, you can never tell what will grow upafter it. There is to me something quite touchingin the patriotism which prompted this act. Björnson,too, is in the same sense "a sower who wentforth for to sow." And the golden grain of histhought falls, as in the parable, in all sorts ofplaces; but, unlike some of the seed in the parable,it all leaves some trace behind. It stimulates reflection,it awakens life, it arouses the torpid soul, itshakes the drowsy soul, it shocks the pious soul, itfrightens the timid soul, but it lifts them all, as itwere, by main force, out of themselves, and makeshealthful breezes blow, and refreshing showers fallupon what was formerly a barren waste. This isBjörnson's mission; this is, during the second periodof his career, his greatness and his highest significance.
The terror with which Thomasine contemplatesher approaching maternity is one of the finestpoints in the book. Has she the right to perpetuatesuch a race, which will be a curse to itself andto future generations? Would she not confer aboon upon mankind if, by destroying herself, shesweetened the life-blood of humanity? For byself-destruction she would forever cut off the turbidcurrent of the Kurt blood which had darkenedthe vital stream of the race for centuries. Themoral exaltation which manifests itself in thisstruggle is most vividly portrayed. She clings tolife desperately; she is young and strong, unsentimental,and averse to ascetic enthusiasm. It finallyoccurs to her that her own race, too, will assertitself in this child; that the pure and vigorousstrain which her own blood will infuse may redeemit from the dark destiny of the Kurts. She finallyresolves upon a compromise; if the child is dark,like the Kurts, both it and its mother shall die.If it is blue-eyed and light-haired, like the Rendalens,she will devote her life to obliterating in it, ortransforming into useful activities, the destructivevigor of the paternal character. Thomas, when heis born, chooses a golden mean between these twoextremes, and perversely makes his appearance asa red-haired, gray-eyed infant, in which both a[Pg 91]Kurt and a Rendalen might have made comfortingobservations. He is accordingly permitted to live,and to become the hero of one of the most remarkablenovels which has ever been published in Scandinavia.