January 6, 2017
Looking Back - Giants in the Earth
Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.
Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag
1991 HarperPerennial (first published in 1927)
Finished on January 12, 1997
Rating: 5/5 (Outstanding)
Giants in the Earth (Norwegian: Verdens Grøde) is a novel by Norwegian-American author Ole Edvart Rølvaag. First published in Norwegian as two books in 1924 and 1925, the English edition was translated by the author and Lincoln Colcord, each of whom also wrote prefatory matter.
Part of a trilogy, the novel follows a Norwegian pioneer family's struggles with the land and the elements of the Dakota Territory as they try to make a new life in America. The book is based partly on Rølvaag's personal experiences as a settler, and on the experiences of his wife’s family who had been immigrant homesteaders. The novel depicts snow storms, locusts, poverty, hunger, loneliness, homesickness, the difficulty of fitting into a new culture, and the estrangement of immigrant children who grow up in a new land.
Giants in the Earth was turned into an opera by Douglas Moore and Arnold Sundgaard; it won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1951.
My Original Notes (1997):
Excellent! One of the best sagas I've read. Very bleak outlook (from a female's perspective) on settling in the Great Plains during the late 1800's. I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought two other books by Rolvaag.
The book was assigned in my Great Plains Literature course at U.N.L. I kept a reading journal on it [which I no longer have!].
Lots of nautical imagery; Christ-like symbolism; Man vs. Nature themes.
Beautifully written. Not so much an intricate plot, but an in-depth psychological view of life on the prairie.
My Current Thoughts:
20 years later and I still remember this book with great fondness. As I recall, it read like an adult version of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, which I adored as a young girl. We had only lived in Nebraska for a few years when I took a Great Plains Lit class at the university (having moved from the warm climate in San Diego), so I could truly appreciate the overwhelming sense of panic and isolation on the Plains during blizzards, infestation of locusts, tornadoes, etc. I don't know if I could have survived life on the prairie in the late 1800's. I live in an insulated home with air conditioning and a furnace, have access to all the groceries I could possibly need, and am able to socialize with friends and family either face-to-face or via the Internet, and I still whine about the weather!
I hope to read this novel again someday. I was going to get rid of the mass market copy I own, since the small type is getting more difficult to read as I get older, but I want to go back and see my notations on the pages.