Alfred Hauge Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Although known primarily as a novelist, Alfred Hauge (HOW-geh) also produced works of short prose, poetry, drama, and nonfiction. Much of his short prose and nonfiction originally appeared in the daily newspaper Stavanger aftenblad, where he was employed as a cultural correspondent for more than thirty years. In conjunction with the research for his trilogy about Cleng Peerson, the father of Norwegian emigration to the United States, he traced the movement of immigrants across the American continent. Two books, Gå vest—(1963; go west) and Gjennom Amerika i emigrantspor (1975; through America in the footsteps of the emigrants), resulted from these travels. Later came Sannferdig saga om Cleng Peerson (1982; The True Saga of Cleng Peerson, 1982), which is a factual presentation of the results of Hauge’s research and which was published by the Norwegian Society of Texas on the bicentennial of Peerson’s birth on May 17, 1782. Two other important volumes of nonfiction are Hauge’s autobiographical Barndom (1975; childhood) and Ungdom (1977; youth).

Hauge also used the Cleng Peerson material dramatically in his play Cleng Peerson: Utvandring (1968; Cleng Peerson: emigration), but on the whole he gave relatively little attention to drama. Poetry was more important to him; his first collection, titled Skyer i drift over vårgrønt land (1945; clouds drifting over land green in spring), sold well but was not a critical success. In 1970 came Det evige sekund (the eternal second), the third volume in Hauge’s hitherto unfinished magnum opus, the Utstein Monastery cycle.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Alfred Hauge occupies a singular position in contemporary Norwegian literature. One of its ablest novelists, he was inventive both thematically and formally. It is even more remarkable that he reached his qualitative high at an age when many writers are in decline. His novel Mysterium (mystery), the first volume in his Utstein Monastery cycle, is clearly one of the very finest works of post-World War II literature in Norway, and the yet unfinished series to which he contributed Perlemorstrand (a shore made of mother-of-pearl) and Leviathan may equal it in significance.

Hauge was even better known for his emigrant novels. His trilogy about Peerson was translated into English and published in a two-volume, abridged edition in 1975 as part of the sesquicentennial celebration of Norwegian emigration to the United States. It is Hauge’s later novels, however, which stand as his greatest artistic achievement.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Flatin, Kjetil. “The Rising Sun and the Lark on the Quilt: Quest and Defiance in Alfred Hauge’s Cleng Peerson Trilogy.” Proceedings of the Pacific Northwest Conference on Foreign Languages 27 (1976): 133-136. A brief analysis of the themes in the three novels of the Cleng Peerson trilogy.

Sjåvik, Jan. “Alfred Hauge’s Utstein Monastery Cycle.” World Literature Today 56 (1982): 54-57. An examination of Hauge’s novels in the Utstein Monastery cycle by a leading scholar of Norwegian literature.

_______. “Norwegian Literature Since 1950.” In A History of Norwegian Literature, edited by Harald S. Naess. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, with the American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1993. This chapter in Naess’s comprehensive survey of Norwegian literature devotes some discussion to Hauge’s fiction, placing it within the context of Norwegian fiction of the post-World War II period.