Simon Johnson (novelist)
Simon Johnson (26 September 1874 - 16 July 1970) was a Norwegian-born American newspaper editor and author. He frequently wrote about Norwegian immigrant frontier and pioneer life. He is most associated with his novel, From Fjord to Prairie or in the New Kingdom.
Simen Johannessen was born in Øyer in Oppland County, Norway. His family emigrated to the United States in 1881, when he was 7 years old. In 1882 they moved into a sod house located in Traill County, North Dakota. The children had little schooling and Simon was largely self-taught. Johnson took the job as secretary to the temperance movement in North Dakota in 1901 and continued with it for 7 years. He bought his own property near Minot, North Dakota and began on his writing.
In 1907, his first novel Et geni was published. His next book, Lonea. Fortælling followed in 1909. Fire fortællinger was released in 1917. Fallitten paa Braastad, written in 1922 tells of a farm built by hard work. The 1925 novel Frihetens hjem was a sequel with a focus on next-generation emigrants.
Johnsons third book, I et nyt rige was published in 1914. It was subsequently translated into English and two years later published by Augsburg Publishing House under the title From Fjord to Prairie or in the New Kingdom.
Johnson often provided a description of poor immigrant farmers on the prairie. He also wrote about the moral struggle in avoid alcoholism. Johnson frequently provided an idealized image of Norwegian folk culture. At the same time, he was often skeptical of populist groups in the Midwest and he criticized American political efforts to achieve assimilation.
During 1910-11 Johnson went back to Norway to give lectures on Norwegian American culture. In 1912 he received membership in the Norwegian Society for Literature. During 1920-24, he moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota where he was editor of the newspaper Nordmands.In 1929, he moved to Decorah, Iowa to work as co-editor of Decorah-Posten. He served there until his retirement in 1945.
- Et geni (Eau Claire, Wi: 1907)
- Lonea. Fortælling (Eau Claire, Wi: 1909)
- I et nyt rige (Minneapolis, MN: 1914)
- Fire fortællinger (Minneapolis, MN: 1917)
- Fallitten paa Braastad (Minneapolis, MN: 1922)
- Prærien min, i Jul i Vesterheimen (Minneapolis, MN: 1922)
- Frihetens hjem (Minneapolis, MN: 1925)
- Skjønlitterære sysler blandt norsk-amerikanere (Decorah, Iowa: 1939)
- From Fjord to Prairie or in the New Kingdom (Kessinger Publishing. 2009) ISBN 978-1-120-37509-4
Sources include information from Simon Johnson’s unpublished memoirs entitled Opplevd: Noen minner, funderinger, og skildringer - og livsoppsjør tilslutt. The original manuscript is in the possession of the Norwegian-American Historical Association.
- Thorson, G. H. America is not Norway. The Story of the Norwegian-American Novel (Columbia University, New York: 1957)
- Næss, H. S. (ed.) Norwegian Influence on the Upper Midwest (Duluth, MN: 1976)
- Rogers, D. The Norwegian Immigrant Experience as Depicted in the Fiction of Simon Johnson (Telemark Distriktshøgskole. Bø: 1979)
- Nelson, R. The Presence of Simon Johnson (North Dakota Horizons, Bismarck, ND : 1980)
- Øverland, Orm The Western Home. A Literary History of Norwegian America (Northfield, MN: 1996)
- Gulliksen, Øyvind T. Norwegian-American Essays (Oslo: 1996)