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Old 10-13-2007, 10:35 PM   #1
BenG
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Rolvaag, O.E.: Giants in the Earth. v1. 13 Oct 2007

My first Mobipocket book.

Giants in the Earth presents an unsparing portrait of Norwegian immigrants struggling to make a new life on the Dakota prairie, a subject Rölvaag knew first-hand. Like the author, the novel is half-American and half-Norwegian in spirit: while it reflects a period of American history, it is told completely through the point of view of Norwegian immigrants.

It is not a primarily a celebration of the American manifest destiny. Instead, the novel is essentially a tragedy because it reveals the human cost of the immigrant experience. The indomitable optimism of Per Hansa, forging a new life for his family in America, sharply contrasts with the pessimism of his despairing wife, Beret, who cannot adapt to life in the New World and longs to return to her native Norway.

When Giants of the Earth appeared in the United States, it was an immediate success. The novel was praised as one of the most powerful novels that chronicled pioneer life in America. Rölvaag later wrote two sequels, Peder Victorious (1929) and Their Father's God (1931). Rölvaag died in Minnesota in 1931, leaving behind him a rich pioneer literary and family legacy. His son, Karl, later became a governor of Minnesota in the 1960s.


Atlantic Monthly-
"A moving narrative of pioneer hardship and heroism...The background of the boundless Dakota prairie, with its mysterious distances and its capacity for evil, is painted with alternating beauty and grimness."

The Nation-
"The fullest, finest, and most powerful novel that has been written about pioneer life in America."
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Old 02-21-2008, 10:18 PM   #2
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Thanks for the conversion. It looks great on the Kindle.

I first read this book around 1966. At first I remembered reading it for fun, but back then I was in college and it must have been an assigned book. It was so good that I didn't consider the assigned read as 'work' even at the time. I shared it with other family members and they were equally thrilled with the work. It is that good.

The lasting memory is the sheer isolation of the early plains settlers. The huge vista, no trees for miles and miles. No neighbors for 40 miles or more. No communication--like being on another planet.

If one of the couple were to be injured they would lay there for a long time--possibly days--until the other arrived.

The bleakness and enforced solitude as well as the constant menace of untamed Indian tribes drove poor Beret slowly and inexorably mad.

Truly a classic. It is almost never mentioned in the pantheon of great books of past decades.
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