District Governor's Daughters

Camilla Collett, Author, Kirsten Seaver, Translator Norvik Press $26.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-870041-17-1
Considered the first Norwegian feminist novel, Collett's mid-19th-century work here receives its first English edition. Shifting perspective among various characters in part through correspondence and diary entries, this is an intricate tale of male/female relationships. Freudian imagery (from a pre-Freudian era) runs throughout the text. The main storyline involves Georg Kold, a young man who enters the home of the district governor as a tutor for his son, and his relationship with the governor's daughter Sofie Ramm. Though both are clearly attracted to each other, the conventions of the time rule out the question of love between them. Instead Sophie enters into a marriage acceptable to her family and her class and begins her descent to cheerless drudge. As a portrait of the rigid Scandinavian society of the period, this novel's closest corollary is the work of Ibsen, whose oeuvre Collett deeply influenced. Even in Seaver's sensitive translation, the old-fashioned and often florid prose may be off-putting to some readers. To those not so deterred, the book proves to be timeless in its evocation of real human emotions and the dilemmas they present. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1992
Release date: 12/01/1992
Genre: Fiction
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