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The Birds (Peter Owen Modern Classics) Paperback – December 31, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Peter Owen Modern Classic
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Owen Ltd (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0720611431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0720611434
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 4.9 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,214,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With spare simplicity, Vesaas (The Ice Palace) tells the tale of Mattis, a mentally disabled man cared for by his lonely older sister, Hege. Their routine, isolated existence is interrupted when a lumberjack arrives at their lakeside cottage and falls in love with Hege, leaving Mattis fearful that he will lose his sister. The careful translation from the Norwegian underscores Vesaas's rare sensitivity in recording Mattis's often insightful view of his world. One episode at the grocer's illustrates his inside-out universe: After buying food, Mattis watches in horror as the grocer puts a packet of candy in his shopping bag: ``He was being given sweets like a child-although he knew about great things like shattered trees and lightning and omens of death.'' Mattis turns the situation around, telling the kindly shopkeeper, ``Well, I guess you can't really help it... being like you are, of course.'' It's a sardonic rejoinder to an earlier plaintive and unanswered query to a farmer's wife: ``Why are things the way they are?'' With only limited understanding of the unpredictable power of nature, Mattis nonetheless turns to the elements to discover the answer-with unsettling results. Vesaas's own secluded life in the Norwegian woods likely informed the novel's themes of isolation and natural forces. A literary gem.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Norwegian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
This is a beautiful tale.
Phil Zuckerman
It is very simple and easy to read at the same time, but it is important to be concentrated when reading it or else the beauty might be lost.
Mads Leonard Holvik
When Hege and Jorgen fall in love Mattis feels he will lose Hege.
aruna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a norwegian classic. The book is a painful reminder of the impossibility of being a human. It's warm and intense and has an exciting perspective. Vesaas was not far from a nobel prize with this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roberto Bacci on October 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
A masterpiece of Norwegian literature. It's an exploration of the boundaries between madness and "normality", and the story of a young man's sacrifice on the altar of common sense and social unwritten rules. How much reality can we stand before loosing our mind? And how much nature, with its power that dances on our fears and on our weaknesses. It would be a great book to read in the language it was written: a bodily and full consistent Telemark dialect. Something goes lost in the traslation, though it couldn't have been otherwise and the trans-cultural re-codificatoion must have been a hard work. I suggest this book to everybody, especially to those who sometimes ask themselves questions about life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mads Leonard Holvik on August 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is so tender and sensitive that I could not read more than a few pages in one sitting. It is very simple and easy to read at the same time, but it is important to be concentrated when reading it or else the beauty might be lost.

I have read this book twice now, and I am sure I will read it many more times in my life. I can not say that about any other book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dolamite on January 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of the greatest novels I have ever read in my life. It is deeply human. It tells a simple story of a man and his sister living in the wilderness of Norway. The man is somewhat of a simpleton -- but he is sensitive and reflective all the same. His sister is lonely...until a woodsman comes....

This is a classic tale, and I loved every word.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By aruna on July 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas, is a wonderful book.

This novel is truly a work of art; which is why the story of a simpleton in a Norwegian village, can be such an absorbing and profound read. The fabric of the novel is taut with the timeless conflict of the mundane vs dreams, strong vs weak, reason vs intuition, known vs unknown, and human vs nature. Every time you read and reread passages they raise many new questions on what we think is life? What is being normal? Does society alone decide the zone of being normal?

The outstanding feature of the novel, is its stark simplicity. The storyline is simple -Mattis and Hege are brother and sister who live in a village. Hege makes a modest living by knitting sweaters. Mattis, is unable to get work. He has a mental disability which impairs his working.
"His fingers would'nt do as they were told, they misunderstood his thoughts, and now and again they held up the work completely."

The village treats him as a simpleton. Mattis can see they avoid him, he is unable to get any work. On Hege's casual suggestion, he starts out as a ferryman in his leaky boat. The first and the only passenger, Mattis will ferry, is Jorgen- a lumberjack. Jorgen starts to live with the Mattis and Hege. When Hege and Jorgen fall in love Mattis feels he will lose Hege. He innocently wonders, " Who was to blame for Jorgen's arrival, the boat or himself? Neither of them could have brought Jorgen across alone."

Mattis's realizes that he will not get back Hege, he must find a way out. He does. The way out comes to him, " Like a blinding flash of lightning. But it was inside him this time, it lit up everything." The lightning, which used to frighten him does not scare him anymore.

Mattis is a fascinating character.
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