Johan Bojer (BOY-ur) enjoyed great popularity in the United States during the 1920’s. John Galsworthy, Rabrindranath Tagore, Joseph Hergesheimer, and James Branch Cabell all praised his fiction. His reputation in the United States began with the translation of The Great Hunger in 1918, and by 1931 four more of his novels had been translated into English. The change in public taste brought about by the Depression made his optimistic realism seem anachronistic amid the work of James Farrell, John Dos Passos, and John Steinbeck, but his hopefulness was not superficially grounded. Bojer himself had passed through economic and intellectual difficulties in a Norway dominated by the skeptical thought of Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg.
The son of a servant girl who was unable to care for him, Bojer was brought up in the country by foster parents. He had little schooling, but at the age of eighteen he went to a free military school for noncommissioned officers at Trondheim. After three years there he scraped together a living at such various occupations as fisherman, salesman, and advertising copywriter. He had his first great success at the age of twenty-four when he published his first novel, Et folketog (a procession). Able at last to devote all his energies to writing, he married in 1899, traveled about Europe, and sent occasional articles back to Norwegian newspapers until settling permanently in Norway in 1907.
Always a novelist of ideas, Bojer...
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