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Shyness and Dignity


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A universal story of a man lost in a world that no longer recognises either him or his talent. Nabokov and Bernhard are echoed in this tour de force from Norway's leading contemporary writer.

About the Author

Dag Solstad has been a central figure in Norwegian literature since his debut in 1965 and is now considered to be the country's leading contemporary author. His work has consistently won critical acclaim and numerous Norwegian literary prizes. This is his first novel to be translated into English.


This first English translation of Norwegian novelist and playwright Solstad's book is a contemplative journey into the psyche of middle-aged literature teacher Elias Rukla. One day, after analyzing more deeply a character in an Ibsen play with his disinterested students, Rukla finds his emotions fervently stirred, and a damaging confrontation results. Knowing this incident will cost him his job, Rukla begins to ruminate about his life, beginning with his college friendships with a rising star philosophy student, Johan Corneliussen, and the woman who would become Rukla's wife, the quiet beauty Eva Linde. A compelling picture of late 1960s student life emerges, and readers glimpse how Rukla relates to Corneliussen, how Rukla chooses his own career path, and how his marriage occurred. Solstad (16-07-41; T. Singer) portrays with precision the angst of a lonely man who yearns for signs of intelligence in everyday life. While not an easy read because of its unusual design and sometimes elongated sentence structure, this novel manages to leave the reader somewhat amazed and satisfied. Recommended for larger public libraries and all academic fiction collections. Maureen Neville, Trenton P.L., NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

An Oslo academic who came of age in the way-out '60s shrinks back from the glaring modern age in Norwegian novelist and playwright Solstad's remarkably nuanced novel, his first to be translated into English. Elias Rukla, described in this stiff translation as "a rather sottish senior master in his fifties with a wife who had spread out a bit too much," is fed up after 25 years of teaching Ibsen's Wild Duck to increasingly apathetic 19-year-olds at Oslo's Fagerborg Secondary School. A breakdown following an incident with an umbrella and verbally abusing a student makes Elias recognize he has become obsolete. Accompanied by rueful thoughts of his aging but once beautiful wife, Eva Linde, the drama of Elias's life unfolds, from the memory of his friendship with Eva's first husband, the intellectual dynamo and Marxist Johan Corneliussen. Inseparable mates at university, the men engaged in vigorous discussions about philosophy and literature that stretched over days and numerous parties. But Johan inexplicably left for New York to join the capitalist quagmire he always railed against, abandoning Eva and their young child, a betrayal from which Elias never recovers. With sublime restraint and subtle modulation, Solstad conveys an entire age of sorrow and loss. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

He's a kind of surrealistic writer, very strange novels. I think that's serious literature -- Haruki Murakami
I find him an utterly hypnotic and utterly humane writer. For me, 2015 was The Year of Solstad -- James Wood * New Yorker *
Dag Solstad is an unflinching explorer of the plight of educated humankind in the face of the inexplicable, whose artistry matches his ambitious theme -- Paul Binding * Independent *
One for the grumpy old men * Scotland on Sunday *
[A] compact and layered book... Solstad has a revered role in Norway as the chronicler of his country's changing times -- Boyd Tonkin * Independent *

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