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Niels Lyhne (Penguin Classics) Paperback – June 27, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Tra edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039815
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This highly influential late-19th century Danish novel portrays the melancholy life of an idealistic young poet.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Jacobsen has made a more profound impression on my heart than any other reading in recent years. -- Sigmund Freud

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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My new favorite read, as I said with his other book, I enjoy this even more than poetry itself.
Darshay
A constant focus being the idealism of love and the dreaded pragmatic vicissitudes that vulgarize it and, by the book's end, the redemption that may yet come of it.
Luca Graziuso and Marina Ross
The only life and beauty in the story is mainly in the language, and in its marvellous and elaborate depiction of the riches of nature.
Mtutuzeli Nyoka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is not a reprint, but a new translation by acclaimed translator and author Tiina Nunnally of arguably the finest novel ever to come out of Scandinavia. It had a huge influence on European writers, especially in Germany, where teenage boys would carry around a Danish dictionary in the vain hope of reading Jacobsen in the original, according to Stefan Zweig, and where the novel has been translated at least 6 times. Read it and see where Thomas Mann got his ideas for "Tonio Kröger." Jacobsen, who was a botanist as well as the translator of Darwin into Danish, fills the novel with flowers and plants, and he knows whereof he speaks. Dive headlong into this examination of creativity vs. lethargy, atheism vs. faith, and the seemingly infinite ability of the hero to misunderstand women!
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Bear in the Canyon on November 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
It's a major drawback for publishers that Amazon's system links the reviews and promotional material for all versions of a book indiscriminately, so that an old, flawed, bowdlerized, and misleading translation such as this one from 1919 by Hanna Astrup Larsen is allowed to profit from the comments made for the new translation by Tiina Nunnally published by Fjord Press in 1990. With Fjord's demise this definitive and superior translation is now available from Penguin Classics -- buy it instead!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
When I was reading this book I had a variety of reactions. First, I was struck by the quality of the thinking and the prose. Second, I was seriously seriously annoyed by the endless Romantic Angst in the book. I really really wanted Niels Lyhne to go out, get a job, and stop whining. That second point inflected my entire reading of the book.

As I closed it, I thought: "I should have read this when I was 18."

And I still kind of think that. The point of view is more immediately relevant to someone just in the throes of figuring out The Meaning of Life.

But now, as I go through my notes and passages from the book, I believe that I did Jacobsen (and the novel) a real disservice. There's something more complicated going on here than the typical Sorrows of Young Werther Sturm und Drang.

I've now, in retrospect, come to see Niels Lynhe as a kind of rewriting of the Book of Job. Only, in the case of our protagonist, it is his atheism which is tested by life. It's an interesting idea, but also a confusing one-- the whole notion of being tested implies agency of some kind (and Lyhne certainly does seem to lead a complicated and cursed life) which throws the whole question of his atheism into a different light. Even the remarks of his friend as he lay dying seem to me to bring into doubt where Jacobsen sat in this debate. The idea that God rewards steadfastness rather than a particular point of view? I feel humbled by my own arrogance that I had reading the book, as I consider now that there is something quite subtle being questioned-- a very delicate point that I'm not sure that I understand even now.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Luca Graziuso and Marina Ross on April 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is unfortunate and distressing that comments on the Penguin Classic edition have made the purchase of this gem a veritable nightmare. Having read the disparaged bowdlerized version of Hanna Astrup Larsen (Scandinavian Classic first printing 1919) and Tiina Nunnally's rendition (Penguin, 2005) I must address the issue and put to rest what has become an absurd debate that is faulty and irresponsible. I should also note that Tiina Nunnally's translation received the PEN Center USA West Translation Award for her labors, and her version retains the candor, lyricism, enthusiasm and melancholy cadence that is often described as proper to Jacobsen's style. I think it appropriate also to note that the Penguin Classic edition is free of any abridgement and that it is published unadulterated by omissions.
The book was deemed controversial for the professed atheism of the protagonist. Indeed Niels refutes the opportunity to renege his atheism at the hour of his death when given the opportunity, and all the more receives the blessing of his friend Hjerrild who claims that if he were God he would rather "Bless the one who would not change his mind at the end". However this is a crucial theme of the book - the loss of a metaphysical authority to make sense of things. The primary focus remains the fearless search for reason and meaning, sensations and love in a world that seems intent on defeating any such quest and demeaning the valor of the heart. The love scenes are of such profound beauty that they delight and excite, inspire and enliven. A constant focus being the idealism of love and the dreaded pragmatic vicissitudes that vulgarize it and, by the book's end, the redemption that may yet come of it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Hollowell on January 31, 2010
Verified Purchase
I bought the 2009 General-Books.net edition, which unbeknownst to me was scanned, copied and printed by computers without humans checking the text. It is a shamefully error-filled book. Typos abound and entire paragraphs are frequently cut off. This book is in the public domain and can be read for free online, so a substandard printing is inexcusable, to say nothing of a printing with no standards at all.

Here's a sentence from the first paragraph of the text:

"It tells of his ekrly dreams and ideals, his efforts to know and to achieve, his revolt against the dreaniswathed dogmas in which people take refuge fromjTarsh. reality"
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