Realist novel

This week and next, we are discussing in my class the Amalie Skram book Forladt, which is translated as Betrayed. I read this book as an undergraduate 15 years ago, in Norwegian. Reading it again now, in translation, I am even more impressed with it. It is a good book.

We are reading this as a pairing with Ibsen's Lady from the Sea.

Unlike that play, which starts off with a veneer of country charm and then gets progressively murkier, Forladt does not waste any time at the beginning of the book presenting for the readers a charming veneer. And this is what makes it a realist novel. The two characters, well all the characters really, are flawed, all of them are imperfect. The main female lead, Aurora, is flawed in as much as she is naive, but also in as much as she does not seem to know what she wants. Her head is filled with nothing but romantic images straight from the Victorian period. The ship captain she marries at least is honest about what he wants, and willing to admit it. He is in fact very much direction oriented, befitting I suppose a ships captain. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of asking Aurora what she wants him to do to make amends, not realizing that she has no capacity for conceiving of a solution.

In Ibsen's play, the female lead is somewhat like Aurora in terms of her innocence and idealism. But she at least finds a way to make things better between her and her husband.


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