Niels Lyhne is an aspiring poet, torn between romanticism and realism, faith and reason. Through his relationships with six women-including his young widowed aunt, a seductive free spirit, and his passionate cousin who marries his friend-his search for purpose becomes a yielding to disillusionment. One of Danish literature's greatest novels, with nods to Kierkegaard and a protagonist some critics have compared to Hamlet, Jacobsen's masterpiece has at its center a young man who faces the anguish of the human condition but cannot find comfort in the Christian faith. Tiina Nunnally's award-winning translation offers readers a chance to experience anew a writer deeply revered by Rilke, Ibsen, Mann, and Hesse.
Jens Peter Jacobsen 1847-85, Danish writer. His historical romance Marie Grubbe (1876, tr. 1917) deals with spiritual degeneration in 17th-century Denmark. Jacobsen's other works include Nels Lyhne (1880, tr. 1919), a semiautobiographical work about a dreamer unable to cope with the realities of his life, several novellas, and a volume of poems. His nation's first naturalist novelist, Jacobsen created a curt prose that had great influence on naturalistic style, both in Denmark and abroad. He translated Darwin's Origin of Species and Descent of Man into Danish. Tiina Nunnally is an award-winning translator of Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish. Her translation for Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow, won the Lewis Galantiere Prize, given to the American Translators Association.