cover image Mogens and Other Stories

Mogens and Other Stories

J. P. Jacobsen. Fjord Press, $12 (157pp) ISBN 978-0-940242-57-9

Fjord first introduced English-speaking readers to the 19th-century Danish botanist-turned-poet in 1990 with a new translation of his classic novel Niels Lyhne. This sparkling new translation of six short stories is driven by lyrical descriptions of nature and strong third-person narratives. The sensibilities of Jacobsen's characters mirror the late 19th-century soul and the somewhat anachronistic stories are linked by a common thread of guilt, revenge and its consequences. Tragic circumstances surround love lost and found in the novella-length title tale; unrequited love turns a melancholic young man to revenge in ``A Shot in the Fog''; and a murky river restores a stricken woman to health at a cost in ``Two Worlds.'' The least successful narrative, ``There Should Have Been Roses,'' nonetheless surprises because of its gender-bending conceit: a Roman villa sets the stage for two actresses playing male courtiers discussing women. Italy is also the setting for Jacobsen's tale of social order and its break down in ``A Plague in Bergamo''; while Provence hosts the poignant ``Fru Fonss,'' about a widow who meets her forbidden first love while traveling with her self-absorbed children. Readers should look forward to reading more of this splendid writer. (May)