Giants in the Earth (novel)

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Giants in the Earth
Cover of first English edition of Giants in the Earth
AuthorOle Edvart Rølvaag
Followed byPeder Seier 

Giants in the Earth (Norwegian: I de dage) is a novel by Norwegian-American author Ole Edvart Rølvaag. First published in the Norwegian language as two books in 1924 and 1925, the English-language edition was published in 1927, translated by Rølvaag and author Lincoln Colcord (1883–1947), each of whom also wrote prefatory matter.[1][2][3]


The novel follows a pioneer Norwegian immigrant family's struggles with the land and the elements of the Dakota Territory as they try to make a new life in America. In 1873, Per Hansa, his wife Beret, their children settle in the Dakota Territory. They are joined by three other Norwegian immigrant families—Tonseten and his wife Kjersti, Hans Olsa and his wife Sorine, and the Solum brothers.[4]

Part of a trilogy, it had two sequels: Peder Victorious (Peder Seier) in 1928 and Their Fathers' God (Den signede dag) in 1931. The books were based partly on Rølvaag's personal experiences as a settler as well as the experiences of his wife’s family who had been immigrant homesteaders in South Dakota. The novels depicts snow storms, locusts, poverty, hunger, loneliness, homesickness, the difficulty of fitting into a new culture, and the estrangement of immigrant children who grow up in a new land.[5][6][7]

Giants in the Earth was turned into an opera of the same name by Douglas Moore and Arnold Sundgaard; it won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1951.[8]


  1. ^ Ole Edvart Rølvaag; Lincoln Colcord (August 2005). "Giants in the Earth (full text)". Project Gutenberg Australia. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Lincoln Colcord - Store norske leksikon". 2009-02-14. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  3. ^ Philip R. Coleman. "Rölvaag, O. E. (1876-1931)". University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  4. ^ Kristoffer F. Paulson. "Berdahl Family History and Rølvaag 's Immigrant Trilogy". The Norwegian-American Historical Association (Volume 27: Page 55). Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  5. ^ Ole Edvart Rølvaag; Lincoln Colcord (1929). Vernon Louis Parrington, ed. Giants in the Earth (Text ed.). Harper and Brothers.
  6. ^ Vernon Louis Parrington. "Editor's introduction to the text edition of Giants in the Earth. Copyright 1929 by Harper and Brothers". Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  7. ^ Neil T. Eckstein. "The Social Criticism of Ole Edvart Rølvaag". The Norwegian-American Historical Association (Volume 24: Page 112). Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  8. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes - Music". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 1951: Music in "Giants in the Earth" by Douglas S. Moore Produced by Columbia Opera Workshop, March 28, 1951.

Related reading[edit]

  • Freitag, Florian (2013) The Farm Novel in North America: Genre and Nation in the United States, English Canada, and French Canada, 1845-1945 (Boydell & Brewer) ISBN 9781571135377
  • Haugen, Einar (1983) Ole Edvart Rölvaag (Boston: Twayne)
  • Jorgenson, Theodore, and Nora Solum (1939) Ole Edvart Rölvaag: A Biography (New York: Harper and Brothers)
  • Simonson, Harold P. (1987) Prairies Within: The Tragic Trilogy of Ole Rölvaag (Seattle: University of Washington Press) ISBN 0295963883

External links[edit]