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Publié le 08 décembre 2010
Nombre de lectures 203
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Jerusalem, by Selma Lagerlöf, et al,Translated by Velma Swanston Howard
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: Jerusalem
Author: Selma Lagerlöf
Translator: Velma Swanston Howard
Release Date: May 16, 2005 [eBook #15837]
Language: English
E-text prepared by Nicole Apostola
A Novel
From the Swedish of
With an Introduction by
The Ingmarssons
   At the Schoolmaster's    "And They Saw Heaven Open"    Karin, Daughter of Ingmar    In Zion    The Wild Hunt    Hellgum    The New Way
   The Loss of "L'Univers"    Hellgum's Letter    The Big Log    The Ingmar Farm    Hök Matts Ericsson    The Auction    Gertrude    The Dean's Widow    The Departure of the Pilgrims
As yet the only woman winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, theprize awarded to Kipling, Maeterlinck, and Hauptmann, is theSwedish author of this book, "Jerusalem." The Swedish Academy, inrecognizing Miss Selma Lagerlöf, declared that they did so "forreason of the noble idealism, the wealth of imagination, thesoulful quality of style, which characterize her works." Five yearslater, in 1914, that august body elected Doctor Lagerlöf into theirfellowship, and she is thus the only woman among those eighteen"immortals."
What is the secret of the power that has made Miss Lagerlöf anauthor acknowledged not alone as a classic in the schools but alsoas the most popular and generally beloved writer in Scandinavia?She entered Swedish literature at a period when the cold gray starof realism was in the ascendant, when the trenchant pen ofStrindberg had swept away the cobwebs of unreality, and people wereaccustomed to plays and novels almost brutal in their frankness.Wrapped in the mantle of a latter-day romanticism, her soul filledwith idealism, on the one hand she transformed the crispactualities of human experience by throwing about them the glamourof the unknown, and on the other hand gave to the unreal—to folktale and fairy lore and local superstition—the effectiveness ofconvincing fact. "Selma Lagerlöf," says the Swedish composer,Hugo Alfvén, "is like sitting in the dusk of a Spanish cathedral …afterward one does not know whether what he has seen was dream orreality, but certainly he has been on holy ground." The averagemind, whether Swedish or Anglo-Saxon, soon wearies of heartlesspreciseness in literature and welcomes an idealism as wholesome asthat of Miss Lagerlöf. Furthermore, the Swedish authoress attractsher readers by a diction unique unto herself, as singular as theEnglish sentences of Charles Lamb. Her style may be described asprose rhapsody held in restraint, at times passionately breakingits bonds.
Miss Lagerlöf has not been without her share of life's perplexitiesand of contact with her fellowmen, it is by intuition that she works rather than by experience. Otherwise, she could not havedepicted in her books such a multitude of characters from all partsof Europe. She sees character with woman's warm and delicatesympathy and with the clear vision of childhood. "Selma Lagerlöf,"declared the Swedish critic, Oscar Levertin, "has the eyes of achild and the heart of a child." This naïveté is responsible forthe simplicity of her character types. Deep and sure they may be,but never too complex for the reader to comprehend. The more variedcharacters—as the critic Johan Mortensen has pointed out—likeHellgum, the mystic in "Jerusalem," are merely indicated andshadowy. How unlike Ibsen! Selma Lagerlöf takes her delight, not indeveloping the psychology of the unusual, but in analyzing themotives and emotions of the normal mind. This accounts for thecomforting feeling of satisfaction and familiarity which comes overone reading the chronicles of events so exceptionable as thosewhich occur in "Jerusalem."
In one of her books, "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils," MissLagerlöf has sketched the national character of mart Swedish peoplein reference to the various landscapes visited by the wild goose inits flight. In another romance, "Gösta Berling," she has interpretedthe life of the province at Vermland, where she herself was bornon a farmstead in 1858. A love of starlight, violins, and dancing,a temperament easily provoked to a laughing abandon of life'stragedy characterizes the folk of Vermland and the impecuniousgentry who live in its modest manor halls. It is a different folkto whom one is introduced in "Jerusalem," the people of Dalecarlia,the province of Miss Lagerlöf's adopted home. They, too, have theirdancing festivals at Midsummer Eve, and their dress is the mostgorgeous in Sweden, but one thinks of them rather as a serious andsolid community given to the plow and conservative habits ofthought. They were good Catholics once; now they are stalwartdefenders of Lutheranism, a community not easily persuaded but,once aroused, resolute to act and carry through to the uttermost.One thinks of them as the people who at first gave a deaf ear toGustaf Vasa's appeal to drive out the Danes, but who eventuallyfollowed him shoulder to shoulder through the very gates ofStockholm, to help him lay the foundations of modern Sweden. Titlesof nobility have never prospered in Dalecarlia; these stalwartlanded peasants are a nobility unto themselves. The Swedish peopleregard their Dalecarlians as a reserve upon whom to draw in timesof crisis.
"Jerusalem" begins with the history of a wealthy and powerfulfarmer family, the Ingmarssons of Ingmar Farm, and develops toinclude the whole parish life with its varied farmer types, itspastor, schoolmaster, shopkeeper, and innkeeper. The romanceportrays the religious revival introduced by a practical mysticfrom Chicago which leads many families to sell their ancestralhomesteads and—in the last chapter of this volume—to emigrate ina body to the Holy Land.
Truth is stranger than fiction. "Jerusalem" is founded upon thehistoric event of a religious pilgrimage from Dalecarlia in thelast century. The writer of this introduction had opportunity toconfirm this fact some years ago when he visited the parish inquestion, and saw the abandoned farmsteads as well as homes towhich some of the Jerusalem-farers had returned. And more thanthis, I had an experience of my own which seemed to reflect thisspirit of religious ecstasy. On my way to the inn toward midnightI met a cyclist wearing a blue jersey, and on the breast, insteadof a college letter, was woven a yellow cross. On meeting me thecyclist dismounted and insisted on shouting me the way. When wecame to the inn I offered him a krona. My guide smiled as though hewas possessed by a beatific vision. "No! I will not take the money,but the gentleman will buy my bicycle!" As I expressed myastonishment at this request, he smiled again confidently andreplied. "In a vision last night the Lord appeared unto me and saidthat I should meet at midnight a stranger at the cross-roadsspeaking an unknown tongue and 'the stranger will buy thybicycle!'"
The novel is opened by that favourite device of Selma Lagerlöf, themonologue, through which she pries into the very soul of hercharacters, in this case Ingmar, son of Ingmar, of Ingmar Farm.Ingmar's monologue at the plow is a subtle portrayal of an heroicbattle between the forces of conscience and desire. Although thisprelude may be too subjective and involved to be readily digestedby readers unfamiliar with the Swedish author's method they willsoon follow with intent interest into those pages that describe howIngmar met at the prison door the girl for whose infanticide he wasethically responsible. He brings her back apparently to facedisgrace and to blot the fair scutcheon of the Ingmarssons, butactually to earn the respect of the whole community voiced in thedeclaration of the Dean: "Now, Mother Martha, you can be proud ofIngmar! It's plain now he belongs to the old stock; so we mustbegin to call him ' Big Ingmar.'"
In the course of the book we are introduced to two generations ofIngmars, and their love stories are quite as compelling as thereligious motives of the book. Forever unforgettable is the sceneof the auction where Ingmar's son renounces his beloved Gertrudeand betroths himself to another in order to keep the old estatefrom passing out of the hands of the Ingmars. Thus both of theseheroes in our eyes "play yellow." On the other hand they have oursympathy, and the reader is tossed about by the alternate undertowof the strong currents which control the conduct of this farmingfolk. Sometimes they obey only their own unerring instincts, as inthat vivid situation of the shy, departing suitor when KarinIngmarsson suddenly breaks through convention and publicly over thecoffee cups declares herself betrothed. The book is a succession ofthese brilliantly portrayed situations that clutch at theheartstrings—the meetings in the mission house, the reconciliatio

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