A Saloonkeeper's Daughter
"An authentic story of life in Minneapolis in the late nineteenth century. That ring of authenticity comes clearly from the mind and craft of an artist at work. For the contemporary reader, the novel provides a glimpse of an immigrant society, a culture in exile, and the immigrants' responses to the social scene... Drawing on the realistic and naturalistic trends in Europe and in America, Janson has written an American novel that anticipates the works of such writers as Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, and Sarah Orne Jewett."—from the Preface by Gerald Thorson
First published in Norwegian by a Minneapolis firm in 1887, Drude Krog Janson's A Saloonkeeper's Daughter has been sadly neglected in the history of American literature, despite its unusually forward-looking portrayal of a self-reliant, career-minded woman and its importance within America's regional and urban literary traditions. Janson's lyrical coming-of-age novel tells the story of the pensive, beautiful Astrid Holm, forced by her family's bankruptcy to abandon a comfortable, middle-class life in Norway for a harsh, new existence in Minneapolis living in an apartment above her father's saloon. She attempts to escape this hardship through art (as an actress) and love (entering into an unhappy relationship with a brutish lawyer) until she finds her true calling as a Unitarian minister and fulfills her longing for meaningful companionship with Helene Nielsen, a selfless doctor to poor immigrants. With this edition of A Saloonkeeper's Daughter, an important and prescient work of American fiction is finally available in English.
About the Authors
Drude Krog Janson (1846-1934) emigrated to Minneapolis in 1882 with her six children to be with her husband, Kristofer Janson, a Unitarian minister and prolific author. Active in the women's suffrage movement, she wrote numerous articles for the Norwegian-American press. Returning to Europe in 1893, she published three more novels and divorced her husband. She died in Copenhagen. Gerald Thorson (1921-2001) was a professor of English at St. Olaf College and a pioneer in the study of Scandinavian-American literature. Orm Øverland is a professor of English at the University of Bergen, Norway.
"An intriguing book... The novel realistically details middle-class life in the Norwegian-American immigrant community in 1870s Minneapolis."
"At last available in an English translation, this Norwegian American historical novel... tells the story of the beautiful Astrid, an immigrant who struggles to find her way to independence and faith. Janson was 36 when she came to the U.S., and in this novel she vividly evokes the tough life in Minneapolis and the landscape of Norway and Minnesota... Highly recommended for all libraries."
"Drude Krog Janson lived an incredibly fascinating life, at the center of which was the struggle for women's rights. This is also true of her first novel, which follows a woman through adversity and struggle in a man's world and a class-conscious culture, until she finds her own identity as a free and independent human being... Today the novel is of interest both for its historical setting and as an early and daring attempt to tell the story of a young woman who has the strength and the courage to choose to live a full life without compromise. The novel may also make you wish to find out more about the author: a very many-faceted and productive woman who had an impact both in Norway and abroad."
"A Saloonkeeper's Daughter is fascinating and enjoyable reading... The novel is a lyrical female coming-of-age story, realistically portraying the protagonist's struggles while showing women who create successful intellectual and emotional lives for themselves in a male-dominated society."
"This strong American novel... is above all else a women's liberation treatise that is universally applicable... It is an interesting and worthwhile reading experience."
|Johns Hopkins University Press|
|The Longfellow Series of American Languages and Literatures|
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