Saturday, April 29, 2017

Jerusalem - Part Two

I'm three quarters through Selma Lagerlöf's Jerusalem. I knew I would enjoy reading this novel after reading Elizabeth von Arnim's praise of it in her novel Christine. I haven't been disappointed. The wikipedia description of Jerusalem follows:

"The narrative spans several generations in the 19th century, and focuses on several families in Dalarna, Sweden, and a community of Swedish emigrants in Jerusalem. It is loosely based on a real emigration that took place from the parish of Nås in 1896."

The true to life emigration in 1896 involved a group of Swedish co-religionists - what we might call a cult today. In the novel, the majority of the families in Dalarna, Sweden are Lutheran and the introduction of this messianic Protestant sect into the area disrupts life in the town. Families are torn apart and friendships end.

In the introduction to Jerusalem Henry Goddard Leach quotes Swedish composer Hugo Emil Alfvén's description of Lagerlöf -

"Selma Lagerlöf is like sitting in the dusk of a Spanish cathedral.......afterward one does not know whether what he has seen was dream or reality, but certainly he has been on holy ground."

An apt description.

No comments: