Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who was Peer Gynt?

Arthur Rackham's painting of Peer Gynt meeting with the trolls

Peer Gynt is a Norwegian play by Henrik Ibsen from 1867 based on the fairy tale character Per Gynt, who may or may not have existed. If he has existed, he lived in the 17th century. He was good at fighting folklore creatures such as trolls and he was not fooled by the seductive huldra (Swedish skogsrå or vittra) and he also had a knack for exaggerating his stories. Plus he lied a lot, and Ibsen's Peer Gynt starts out with just that, "Peer, you are lying!".

I haven't actually read Peer Gynt, but I got inspired to do so when I watched a Russian documentary on Norway (a good example of combining languages with other things). I happen to have all of Ibsen's texts, but for those of you who don't but who still want to become a little bit more cultivated, here is Peer Gynt:

In English, and in (very Danish looking) Norwegian.

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