Mogens and Other Stories

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Press: Tutis Digital Publishing Pvt. Ltd.; large type edition edition (June 17, 2008)
Publication Date:2008-6
Author Name:Jacobsen, Jens Peter


Mogens and Other Stories by Jens Peter Jacobsen. 
Translated from the Danish By Anna Grabow.
In the decade from 1870 to 1880 a new spirit was stirring in the intellectual and literary world of Denmark.
George Brandes was delivering his lectures on the Main Currents of Nineteenth Century Literature; from Norway came the deeply probing questionings of the granitic Ibsen; from across the North Sea from England echoes of the evolutionary theory and Darwinism.
It was a time of controversy and bitterness, of a conflict joined between the old and the new, both going to extremes, in which nearly every one had a share.
How many of the works of that period are already out-worn, and how old-fashioned the theories that were then so violently defended and attacked! Too much logic, too much contention for its own sake, one might say, and too little art.
This was the period when Jens Peter Jacobsen began to write, but he stood aside from the conflict, content to be merely artist, a creator of beauty and a seeker after truth, eager to bring into the realm of literature "the eternal laws of nature, its glories, its riddles, its miracles," as he once put it.
That is why his work has retained its living colors until to-day, without the least trace of fading.
There is in his work something of the passion for form and style that one finds in Flaubert and Pater, but where they are often hard, percussive, like a piano, he is soft and strong and intimate like a violin on which he plays his reading of life.
Such analogies, however, have little significance, except that they indicate a unique and powerful artistic personality.

From Booklist

Trained in science (he was Darwin's Danish translator), Denmark's great literary realist Jacobsen (1847-85) wrote two novels and the shorter works here newly translated before succumbing to tuberculosis. 
These stories have the translucence and perfection of Flaubert.
Jacobsen manages to perfectly conjure the Danish countryside's beauty and the tenor of nineteenth-century Danish life while retaining his hold on older, darker strata of the imagination that contain the supernatural and the more violent passions.
In the novella, "Mogens," the protagonist finds the love of his life in the forest during a rainstorm, loses her in a fire, nearly goes mad from grief, then, finally recovered, finds and marries someone else.
This apparently mundane story is presented in prose so luminous and beautifully detailed as to resemble poetry.
"A Shot in the Fog" examines the aftermath of jealousy in the person of the mediocre Henning, who, after his beloved marries another, passes off his murder of her husband as a hunting accident only to have his doom eventually catch up with him: he dies convinced he is pursued by demons.
The entire collection consists of work of the highest order, wonderfully translated.
John Shreffler

--This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

Language Notes

Text: English, Danish (translation)

--This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

About the Author

Jens Peter Jacobsen (7 April 1847 – 30 April 1885) was a Danish novelist, poet, and scientist, in Denmark often just written as "J. 
Jacobsen" (and pronounced "I.
He began the naturalist movement in Danish literature and was a part of the Modern Breakthrough.
Jacobsen was born in Thisted in Jutland, the eldest of the five children of a prosperous merchant.
He went to school in Copenhagen and was a student at the University of Copenhagen in 1868.
As a boy, he showed a remarkable talent for science, in particular botany.
In 1870, although he was already secretly writing poetry, Jacobsen adopted botany as a profession.
He was sent by a scientific body in Copenhagen to report on the flora of the islands of Anholt and Laeso.
Around this time, the discoveries of Charles Darwin began to fascinate him.
Realizing that the work of Darwin was not well known in Denmark, he translated The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man into Danish.
When still young, Jacobsen was struck by tuberculosis which eventually ended his life.
His illness prompted travels to southern Europe.

--This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.


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Comment List (Total:7)

  •     OK
  •     A gem!
  •     I can see why Jacobsen was Rilke's favorite author. These stories are lapidary prose of the highest order -- each word was carefully chosen to produce the precise effect the author wanted, and it works. Travel with Jacobsen to the fogbound Danish coast of Jutland, the imposing Papal city of Avignon, or, in one of the masterpieces of the short story form, the medieval Italian city of Bergamo. The title novella, "Mogens," is the perfect warmup before diving into Jacobsen's amazing Bildungsroman, Niels Lyhne. Enjoy bathing your mind in the words of a master.
  •     An odd book, literary history, influenced Rilke, Freud, Mann, Cady.
  •     From the four stories in this book, ‘The Plague in Bergamo’ is the most interesting one. Its theme is rather unexpected for the author of “Niels Lyhne’, because it is a religious one.When the plague breaks out in Bergamo, people are ‘hoping from the power of evil the protection which heaven had not vouchsafed them’.A strange procession of flagellants (not unlike the one in the movie ‘The Seventh Seal’ by I. Bergman), ‘a frenzy of self-humiliation, in blood and wailing, beneath wet gleaming scourges’, enters the city with at their head a young monk. In his preach he insults the inhabitants of Bergamo and reveals them that ‘the Son of God saw that these mobs that fill the earth, were not worthy of salvation. He tore free His feet and He clenched His Hands round the nails and tore them out.’ The reaction of the mob is astonishing. Or perhaps not?‘Mogens’ is a very loosely built love story.‘There should have been roses’ contains two very innocent monologues.‘Mrs. Fonss’ tells the story of a widow who meets again the love of her youth. She wants to marry again against the will of her children. Will she choose a life in her own way?These stories do not have the same qualities as J.P. Jacobsen’s masterpiece ‘Niels Lyhne’.Only for fans of the author.
  •     There is something weird about these on demand prints. I came across a few typos and I just didn't feel like I was reading the original book with Jacobson's exact words. Don't pass up this book, but I suggest going with a different publisher.
  •     If you were an author, how would you like to have these folks write blurbs for you? Rainer Maria Rilke (who more or less said, of all my books only the Bible and Jacobsen are indispensable); Sigmund Freud (…has made a profound impression on my heart); Thomas Mann (Jacobsen had the greatest influence on my style…); Hermann Hesse (powerful imagination…huge talent). Jacobsen was a Danish author (1847-1885) who was also a naturalist. The introduction to almost every story has a startlingly precise and wonderful naturalist description. And the stories are startling too: a groom-to-be loses his beloved in a fire; a spurned man secretly kills his lover’s intended husband and eventually gets even more revenge; a woman transfers her illness to another through a curse; during the plague years, lascivious townspeople take on a roving band of flagellants. In the last story, a widow gets remarried to her childhood sweetheart and her children cut off all contact with her. The story ends with a letter the woman wrote to her children on her death bed. The Afterword tells us Jacobsen wept while he wrote the ending.

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