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Tarjei Vesaas

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Tarjei Vesaas
Tarjei Vesaas (1967)
Tarjei Vesaas (1967)
Born(1897-08-20)August 20, 1897
Vinje, Telemark, Norway
DiedMarch 15, 1970(1970-03-15) (aged 72)
Oslo, Norway
Notable awardsGyldendals legat (1943)
Doblougprisen (1957)
(m. 1934)
ChildrenOlav Vesaas
Guri Vesaas
RelativesSven Moren (father-in-law)
Sigmund Moren (brother-in-law)
Midtbø in Vinje, site of the home of novelist Tarjei Vesaas and poet Halldis Moren Vesaas

Tarjei Vesaas (20 August 1897 – 15 March 1970) was a Norwegian poet and novelist. Vesaas is widely considered to be one of Norway's greatest writers of the twentieth century and perhaps its most important since World War II.[1]


Vesaas was born in Vinje, Telemark, Norway to Olav Vesaas (1870–1951), a farmer and Signe Øygarden (1870–1953), a teacher. [2] He was the oldest of three sons. He was guilt-ridden by his refusal to take over the family farm, and this guilt permeates much of his authorship. He spent much of his youth in solitude, seeking comfort and solace in nature. He married the writer Halldis Moren Vesaas (the daughter of Sven Moren and the sister of Sigmund Moren) and moved to Midtbø in his home district of Vinje in 1934. They had two children: a son, Olav Vesaas and a daughter, Guri Vesaas. [3][4]

His authorship covers almost 50 years, from 1923 to 1970. Written in Nynorsk, his work is characterized by simple, terse, and symbolic prose. His stories are often about simple rural people that undergo a severe psychological drama and who according to critics are described with immense psychological insight. Commonly dealing with themes such as death, guilt, angst, and other deep and intractable human emotions, the Norwegian natural landscape is a prevalent feature in his works. His debut was in 1923 with Children of Humans (Menneskebonn), but he had his breakthrough in 1934 with The Great Cycle (Det store spelet). His mastery of the nynorsk language, landsmål (see Norwegian language), has contributed to its acceptance as a medium of world class literature.[5]

A prolific author, he won a number of awards, including the Gyldendal's Endowment in 1943 and Dobloug Prize in 1957. He was awarded the Nordic Council's Literature Prize in 1963 for his novel The Ice Palace and the Venice Prize in 1953 for The Winds. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature on 57 occasions (once in 1946, and often multiple times every year between 1950 and 1970).[6]

The most famous of his works are The Ice Palace (Is-slottet), a story of two girls who build a profoundly strong relationship, and The Birds (Fuglane), a story of an adult of a simple childish mind, which through his tenderhearted empathy and imagination bears the role of a seer or writer. His novels have been translated into 28 languages. Several of his books have been translated into English – many of them published by Peter Owen Publishers– among them Spring Night, The Birds, Through Naked Branches, and The Ice Palace.[7]


Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nomination Database". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  2. ^ Gimnes, Steinar (2020-02-25), "Tarjei Vesaas", Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian Bokmål), retrieved 2020-10-21
  3. ^ Erik Bjerck Hagen. "Tarjei Vesaas". Store norske leksikon. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  4. ^ "Halldis Moren Vesaas". Aschehoug. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  5. ^ Steinar Gimnes. "Tarjei Vesaas". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
  6. ^ "Tarjei Vesaas - Nomination Database". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2022-06-29.
  7. ^ "tarjei Vesaas (1897-1970)". Gyldendal Norsk Forlag AS. Retrieved April 1, 2018.

Other sources[edit]

Related reading[edit]

  • Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, vol. 4, ed. S. R. Serafin, 1999;
  • Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature, ed. Jean-Albert Bédé & William B. Edgerton, 1980;