Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/303

This page needs to be proofread.


BLACK,

WILLIAM

269

are the most important specimens of his “ bonde-fortael- Aulestad, in Gausdal; this house, a fine example of old linger ” or peasant-tales—a section of his literary work Norwegian domestic architecture, has been his home since which has made a profound impression in his own country, 1874 to the present day. In 1877 he published another and has made him popular throughout the world. novel, Magnhild, — an imperfect production, in which These novels were full of freshness and beauty combined Bjornson’s ideas on social questions were seen to be in with remarkable realism. Two of these tales, Arne and a state of fermentation,—and the polemical play called Synnove Solbakken, are nearly perfect, and offer perhaps The King. Another story, Captain Mansana, an episode finer examples of the pure peasant-story than are to be of the war of Italian independence, belongs to 1878. found elsewhere in literature. Bjornson was anxious “ to Extremely anxious to obtain a full success on the stage, create a new saga in the light of the peasant,” as he put it, Bjornson concentrated his powers on the drama called and he thought this Leonardo,, which appeared in 1879. This was an appeal should be done, not for religious toleration, and it raised a violent controversy. merely in prose This was not allayed by a satirical play, The Kew System, fiction, but in which was brought out a few weeks later. Although national dramas or these plays of Bjornson’s second period were greatly dis“folke-stykker.” cussed, none of them (except A Bankruptcy) pleased on The earliest of these the boards. He was greatly disappointed and for some was Between the years again preserved silence as a dramatist. When Battles, written in once more he produced a social drama, A Gauntlet, in 1855, but not pro- 1883, he was unable to persuade any manager to stage it duced until 1857. at all. This was, nevertheless, one of the most skilfully It was followed by composed tc problem-plays ” of modern times. In the Lame Hulda in autumn of the same year, Bjornson published a mystical 1859, and King or symbolic drama (Over JEvne, Beyond our Powers), /SWrre in 1861. All which was a new departure in his work and deals these efforts, how- with the abnormal features of religious excitement with ever, were far ex- extraordinary power; this was not acted until 1899, when celled by the splen- it achieved a great success. Bjornson, convinced that the did trilogy of Sigurd theatre was practically closed to him, turned back to the the Bastard, which novel, and published in 1884 Flags are Flying in Toivn Bjornstjerne Bjornson: Bjornson issued in and Port, the first really long book he had written. In {From, a photograph by Otto, Paris.) 1862. This raised 1889 he printed another novel as lengthy, and still more him to the front rank among the younger poets of remarkable, In God’s Way, which is one of the works by Europe. His Sigurd the Crusader should be added to which he is most widely known outside his native country. the category of these heroic plays, although it was not The same year saw the publication of a comedy, Geoprinted until 1872. At the close of 1857 Bjornson graphy and Love, which was acted, and continues to be had been appointed director of the theatre at Bergen, a played, with success. A number of short stories, of a post which he held, with much journalistic work, for two more or less didactic character, dealing with startling years, when he returned to the capital. From 1860 to points of emotional experience, were collected in 1894; 1863 he travelled widely throughout Europe. Early among them those which produced the greatest sensation in 1865 he undertook the management of the Christiania were Bust, Mother’s Hands, and Absalom’s Hair. Bjorntheatre, and brought out his popular comedy of The son’s latest writings have been a political tragedy called Kewly Married and his romantic tragedy of Mary Paul Lange and Tora Parsberg, a second part of Beyond Stuart in Scotland. Although Bjornson has introduced, our Powers, and a drama, Laboremus. In 1899, at the openinto his novels and plays, songs of extraordinary beauty, ing of the National Theatre, Bjornson, whose popularity in he has never been a -very copious writer of verse; both Norway is unbounded, received an ovation, and his sagahis principal contributions to this art were collected in drama of Sigurd the Crusader was put on the boards with the year 1870, when he published his Poems and Songs great magnificence. A subject which interested him greatly, and the spirited romance called Arnljot Gelline ; the latter and on which he has occupied his indefatigable pen, is the volume contains the magnificent ode called “ Bergliot,” question of the “ bonde-maal,” the adopting of a national Bjornson’s finest contribution to lyrical poetry. It has been language for Norway distinct from the “ dansk-norsk ” remarked that between 1864 and 1874, in the very prime (Dano-Norwegian), in which her literature has hitherto of life, Bjornson displayed a slackening of the intellectual been written. Bjornson’s strong and sometimes rather forces very remarkable in a man of his energy; he was narrow patriotism has not blinded him to the fatal folly indeed during these years mainly occupied with politics of such a proposal, and his lectures and pamphlets and with his business as a theatrical manager. This was against the “ maalstroev ” in its extreme form have done the period of Bjornson’s most fiery propaganda as a Radical more than anything else to save the language in this agitator. In 1871 he began to supplement his journalistic dangerous moment. work in this direction by delivering lectures over the length and breadth of the northern countries. He Black, William (1841-1898), British novelist, possesses to a surprising degree the arts of the orator, was born at Glasgow in 1841. His early ambition was combined with a magnificent physical prestige. From to be a painter, but he made no way, and soon had 1873 to 1876 Bjornson was absent from Norway, and in recourse to journalism for a living. He was at first emthe peace of voluntary exile he recovered his imaginative ployed in newspaper offices in Glasgow, but obtained a powers. His new departure as a dramatic author began post on the Morning Star in London, and at once proved Avith The Editor in 1874 and A Bankruptcy in 1875, himself a descriptive writer of exceptional vivacity. During social dramas of an extremely modern and realistic cast, the war between Prussia and Austria in 1866 he reprethe second of which has continued to be, in many sented the Morning Star at the front, and was taken countries, the piece of Bjornson’s which has longest kept prisoner. This paper shortly afterwards failed, and Black the stage. The poet was now settled at the estate of joined the editorial staff of the Daily News. He also