Hoem, Edvard

Hoem, Edvard
   A Norwegian novelist, poet, and dramatist, Hoem is considered one of the foremost stylists in contemporary Norwegian literature. He started out as a poet but has since devoted most of his energy to the theater and the novel. A Marxist-Leninist in the 1970s, he had his literary debut with a collection of 31 poems and three short prose texts, Som grøne musikantar (1969; Like Green Musicians). It was followed by a book of 60 poems that together form a lyrical novel, Landet av honning og aske (1970; The Land of Honey and Ashes), and then by the book that gave him his literary breakthrough, the novel Anna Lena (1971). Inspired by socialist realist doctrines, it depicted the exploitation oflow-paid workers in the Norwegian countryside; it is also notable for the author's violations of narrative conventions, which Hoem, following the German dramatist Bertold Brecht (1898-1956), hoped would cause readers to have an analytical attitude toward his story rather than reading it chiefly for entertainment.
   Capitalism's push for centralization of the rural population is the related theme of Kjærleikens ferjereiser (1974; tr. The Ferry Crossing, 1989) which, while critical of the policies of the Norwegian government, also exhibits postmodern traits. As in Dag Solstad's Arild Asnes, 1970, published three years earlier, the book ends as the Marxist-Leninist paper Klassekampen (The Class Struggle) is being sold door to door.
   The influence of Brecht is strongly visible in Hoem's dramatic works from the 1970s. Kvinnene langs fjorden (1973; The Women by the Fjord) depicts the plight of low-paid seamstresses. Musikken gjennom Gleng (1977; The Music through Gleng) and Tusen fjordar, tusen fjell (1977; A Thousand Fjords, a Thousand Mountains) argue in favor ofkeeping small rural communities alive. The historical play Der storbara bryt (1979; Where the Big Wave Breaks), set at the end of the Napoleonic wars, uses satire while depicting people's reactions to the new ideas of liberty.
   In 1978 Hoem began an intended trilogy with the title Gi meg de brennende hjerter (Give Me the Burning Hearts). The first volume, Melding fra Petrograd (1978; Report from Petrograd), adheres closely to ideas of socialist realism as expressed by the Hungarian literary critic Gyorgy Lukacs (1885-1971). The next volume, Fjerne Berlin (1980; Distant Berlin), sets the class struggle aside in favor of portraying private relationships. The third volume has not appeared, possibly because Hoem became disenchanted with Marxist-Leninism.
   Hoem collected some of his poetry in the volume Du er blitt glad i dette landet (1982; You Have Become Fond of This Country), and the same year published his play God natt, Europa (1982; tr. Good Night, Europe, 1989), in which an old politician and war hero tries to come to terms with his past. He also wrote several significant novels. Prøvetid (1984; Rehearsal) depicts the midlife crisis of its protagonist, Johannes Bergmann. Heimlandet barndom (1985; The Homeland Childhood) is a sensitive fictionalized account of the author's youth. Ave Eva: Herregardsroman (1987; tr. Ave Eva: A Norwegian Tragedy, 2000), while using John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) as intertext, offers a satirical take on contemporary Norway as the protagonist struggles to save his family farm only to lose it to the oil industry.
   The play Sankt Olavs skrin (1989; Saint Olav's Reliquary) explores another period of cultural transition, namely that from Catholicism to Lutheranism in Norway. A sequel to Prøvetid, the novel I Tom Bergmanns tid (1991; In Tom Bergmann's Time), has Johannes Bergmann's cousin Tom as its protagonist and critiques financial practices of the 1980s. A third Bergmann novel, Tid for klage, tidfor dans (1996; A Time to Mourn, a Time to Dance), is set among artists and intellectuals in Oslo in the 1990s.
   The novel Engelen din, Robinson (1993; Your Angel, Robinson) discusses what has become of the generation that came of age in the 1960s. Hoem also published an essay entitled Mitt tapre sprak (1996; My Brave Language), in which he argued that nynorsk—Hoem's medium of expression—is not just a language for rural people. The novel Frøken Dreyers musikkskole (2000; Miss Dreyer's Music School) features the trials of a German violinist, while the drama Audun Hestakorn (2002) commemorates the 700th anniversary ofthe hanging of an advisor to King Magnus the Lawgiver. Hoem has also written other play scripts, essays, and religious texts.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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