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The Rise of Jonas Olsen: A Norwegian Immigrant’s Saga

FOREWORD BY Todd W. Nichol
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 464
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  • Book Info
    The Rise of Jonas Olsen
    Book Description:

    The Rise of Jonas Olsen is at once an immigrant novel, business novel, political novel, and a western, offering a rich and panoramic view of Scandinavian immigrant life in the Upper Midwest. Johannes B. Wist combines realism and satire to depict the role Norwegian Americans played in the economic, political, and cultural life of the Upper Midwest.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9817-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)

    The Norwegian-American Historical Association is pleased to collaborate with the University of Minnesota Press in presenting Johannes Benjaminsen Wist’s widely read trilogy, here calledThe Rise of Jonas Olsen, in a skillful English translation by Orm Øverland. These books were meant by their author to be enjoyed foremost as novels, but Wist also intended them to be read as portrayals of Norwegian-American life. Professor Øverland’s introduction and annotations enrich this volume greatly and will help guide readers through these pages, whether they are perused as literature, historical vignette, or both.

    As Orm Øverland has noted, there is a certain irony...

  4. Translator’s Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxix)

    Johannes B. Wist (1864–1923)—journalist, editor, and novelist—was one among many. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries there was a large and manifold American literature in the Norwegian language—large in relation to the size of the immigrant group by whom and for whom it was made, that is.¹ Books in a variety of genres—poetry, fiction, drama, memoirs, juveniles, history, travel, devotional texts, and theology—were written and read by first- and second-generation immigrants. This literary output was supported by a wide range of institutions such as publishers and printers, newspapers and journals, bookstores, libraries, and reading...

  5. A Note on the Text and Translation
    (pp. xxx-xxxiv)

    • BOOK I Scenes from the Life of a Newcomer: Jonas Olsen’s First Years in America
      (pp. 3-118)

      Jonas Olsen came to America in the 1880s. He was twenty years old, had never learned to work, and wasn’t much good at anything else either. So you may think that he lacked the necessary qualifications to be launched into an alien and indifferent world. But there is no need to worry. Jonas himself hadn’t acquired much concern for tomorrow in the course of his short life and, moreover, he had a cousin in Minneapolis who was very highly placed and who was said to be almost a millionaire. He had more or less said so himself in his letters...

    • BOOK II The Home on the Prairie: Jonas Olsen’s First Year in the Settlement
      (pp. 119-268)

      The settlement was called O’Brien’s Grove at the time Jonas and Ragna Olsen arrived. It was named for Jim O’Brien, the first settler. That part was simple and straightforward. Since there wasn’t a real tree, let alone a grove, in a circumference of many miles, the “Grove” part may have been difficult to understand for those who don’t realize that names are as much about wishes as about realities.

      It was a typical prairie landscape—a never-ending plain providing no rest for the eye. The monotony of the prairie could be oppressive. Even though the soil was good and could...

    • BOOK III Jonasville
      (pp. 269-414)

      A sunny winter morning on the prairies the Christmas of 1909. The roads are covered with yesterday’s snowfall. From the east the sun is looking down on the wide plain, but the cold is more powerful. Blue-gray columns of smoke rise up from the farmhouses. People on the roads peek out from their fur coats and other packaging, looking to one side, then to the other, and cannot help shivering a little at the thought of the warm fireplace that is the source of the smoke. Then they look straight ahead and drive a little faster to shorten their journey....

  7. Notes
    (pp. 415-432)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 433-434)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 435-435)