Absalom's Hair

Cover image for


Published: 1894
Language: English
Wordcount: 38,756 / 113 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 59.9
LoC Category: PT
Downloads: 1,828
mnybks.net#: 1090
Origin: gutenberg.org

A gloomy tale of an ill-matched pair and of the son who inherited is mother's red hair and her emotional nature, his father's likeness, and from both the spirit of rebellion that wrecked his parent's lives and maimed his own almost beyond the cure of his final self-conquest. (Also includes the short story "A Painful Memory from Childhood.")

Show Excerpt

a little to the fact that "every one" was in love with her. Not only the bachelors of the family, that was a matter of course, but artists and amateurs, even the most blase, swarmed round her, la jeunesse doree (which is homely enough in Norway), without an exception. A living work of art, worth more or less money, piquante and admired, how each longed to carry her home, to gloat over her, to call her his own!

There was surely more intensity of feeling near her than near others, a losing of oneself in one only; that unattainable dream of the world-weary.

With her one could lead a thoroughly stylish life, full of art and taste and comfort. She was highly cultivated, and absolutely emancipated--our little country did not, in those days, possess a more alluring expression.

When face to face with her they were uncertain how to act, whether to approach her diffidently or boldly, smile or look serious, talk or be silent.

What these idle wooers gleaned from her stories, her characteristic dress, her wond


Average Rating of 3.3 from 3 reviews: ****
Lisa Carr

A Norwegian bachelor falls in love with a young woman and marries her, but when their son is born, she rebels, and the family lives in tension until the father dies. Then it becomes her story, and when the son grows up, it becomes his story. It's a bit hard to see where the narrative is going, but the end ties it up nicely. All the characters are well-drawn, and the landscape of the islands off Norway comes through the writing.
Following that story is a short piece of a child's recollection of a murder and the execution of the murderer. It's quite strong.

I found Absalom's hair interesting and well written, revealing the thoughts of enlightened people from a century ago, and the same social and relationship problems we face today. The moral in the story, if there is a moral, and I believe there is, is that it is all too easy to lose one's path in life.

Waldo Gemio

This short novel by one of Norway's 'Great Four' (and a Nobel Prize winner) explores a man's relationship with his obsessive mother and the other women in his life. But 'Sons and Lovers' it ain't. Perhaps something was lost in the (apparently unattributed ) translation. The short piece appended to this 'A Painful Memory from Childhood' could be seen as a coda, or as a separate story. It describes, in chilling detail, the trial and execution of a popular young man, seen from the perspective of a child. All the same, it strikes me that there is a little too much sympathy for a man who killed a woman with an axe, the first blow not killing her outright, leaving her begging for mercy; there's also an implication that because she had 'lain with other men' she might have deserved what she got. I won't be reading any more Bjornson in a hurry.

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