ELS-Portfolio-Literature- "Settlers Tales"

Extract from 'Settlers' Tales' By Andreas Haukland
(An anthology of short stories depicting rural life in Norway during the early 1900s). Translated by Finn Tømmerberg & Kevin Reeder.


From the sea-lane along the coast the long, narrow fjord extends inland like a bent arm, becoming ever narrower until, like a hand, it grasps the river flowing down from the woods. On one side of the river the mountain soars upwards, jutting abruptly into the sky, whilst on the other side, pine and fir trees are packed together on a large expanse of sandy heath. Beyond the heath, wooded ridges curve, one after another, until in the remote distance, like the skull of a giant, a round mountain arises with its snow-capped crown resembling a head of white hair. Where the river and fjord meet, there are a number of boathouses and shacks, built from solid heathland-timber. For most of the year the boats lie idle in their boathouses, and the shacks stand empty. But at Christmas and Easter, and on market days, the shacks are crowded with people. Boats are pulled out and launched or brought inside. A large white-painted building on a promontory further down the fjord stands silhouetted against a green ridge. Scattered around it are a few large red-painted houses, a wharf several stories high, the long low shape of the general store, and furthest in by the hillside, a stone barn for cattle, whitewashed at ground level and red uppermost, topped by a red roof.
This is the trading centre of Søfting.

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Andreas Haukland was born in 1873 in Mosjõen, northern Norway. Raised as a fatherless boy, he lived with his mother, a live-in seamstress, in the loft of a boathouse in Sjõgata, at that time the town centre of Mosjõen. In his autobiographical novel, Ol-Jõrgen from 1902, he portrayed his childhood on the seamy side of Sjõgata, in his native Mosjõen. Haukland's literary talent is amply demonstrated in Settler's Tales from 1907, a fascinating anthology of short stories from the district of Vefsn in northern Norway. The main character, Steinar, builds himself a farm and raises a family on a remote mountain plain in the wilds, not far from Mosjõen. His heroic encounters with wild animals such as bears and wolves are depicted with harsh realism. In contrast to the primitive struggle for survival faced by people and animals alike, Haukland describes the scenery of northern Norway with an unsurpassed lyrical accuracy. Author of a considerable number of short stories and novels, Andreas Haukland died after collapsing on the street in Naples, Italy, in 1933, the day before his sixtieth birthday.