Poison (Kielland novel)
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This famous novel is an attack on the Norwegian education system, particularly on the obsession with Latin. A schoolboy, Marius, is tormented throughout the first half of the novel by his scholastic inability, and during his final illness continues to murmur rote phrases, his last words being Mensa rotunda.
The main character of the book is Marius's friend Abraham Løvdahl, the son of a respected professor. His mother Wenche is an idealist who struggles in vain to keep her son honest and upright; she takes her own life after falling pregnant to the businessman Michal Mordtmann.
In Norwegian, gift can mean both "poison" and "married," making the title of the novel ambiguous. However, the conventional interpretation is that the title means "poison", as the students are "poisoned" by rote learning of topics unrelated to real life and societal norms. In both cases, the etymology is the same, namely something that is "given." It is the same word as the English word "gift", adopted from Old Norse.
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