HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

Shyness and Dignity (1994)

by Dag Solstad

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3711170,493 (3.99)22
Nothing in Elias' measured life, in his whole career as a teacher of literature, in his marriage to the 'indescribably beautiful' Eva, foreshadowed the events of that apparently ordinary day. He makes sure he has his headache pills and leaves for work as he has done every morning for the past twenty-five years. He is only too familiar with his pupils' hostile attitude both to his lectures and to himself, but today he feels their impatience, their oafishness, more painfully than ever before and, after their ritually dismissive and bored response to his passionate lecture on Ibsen's The Wild Duck, he reaches a point of crisis. Shyness and Dignity is the story of a man's awakening to a world that no longer recongises what he has always stood for or his talent. Dag Solstad is Norway's leading author, an icon among Scandinavian writers and a leading figure of the political left. This novel, in Sverre Lyngstad's fine translation, is one of Solstad's major works.… (more)
None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 22 mentions

English (9)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (11)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Solstad offers us the portrait of a man having a very very bad no good day. Elias is a man who values his dignity as a good schoolteacher, a reliable caring husband, stepfather and citizen. He sees himself as a 'good', conscientious, thoughtful person but he crosses a behavioural boundary he can't step back from given his personality and upbringing: passive shy, self-conscious, overly thoughtful to the point of being/appearing self-absorbed.

After finishing a lecture on The Wild Duck for bored uninterested senior high school students, he steps over that behavioral line, very publicly shaming himself in front of students and teachers. To most of us, his display of imperfection would not be so ruinous -- the point is, for him, it is catastrophic. Solstad alternates giving us Elias' past history along with the present and as I learned his story and character I was simultaneously sympathetic and also thinking, 'Jeez, dude, get over yourself and live.' Solstad is giving us a person crushed by character, circumstance, choices, unable to overcome and move on. Nothing feel good. I think it is a genuine attempt to explain why some people break, seemingly over nothing much.

I was least drawn in by the portrait of Eva, the abandoned wife of his former best friend who becomes Elias' wife. She is (over and over again) described as an indescribable beauty which just made me want to vomit. Also kick both of them hard. To him, (as she was to husband #1) she is not a person but an object to admire although now and then Elias makes a half-hearted attempt to view her a real person, he can't. In part because of her covetousness for nice things. Which brings us to the underlying critique of capitalist society and blablabla - but I don't buy that Eva is shallow and Elias is doomed because of it. He is who he is. She is a person who can't be judged as she gave up having a rich internal life for two men and her child when she was too young to know any better, although she has, in her forties begun to assert herself (which proves my point).

The ending is apparently open-ended, but to me it is implicit that Elias will act, definitively.

Karl Ove Knausgaard admires Solstad and he is one of the few contemporary Norwegian novelists in translation. And I have barely even mentioned the exegesis of The Wild Duck, the play Elias is teaching that fatal day! Might the best thing in what really is a superb but somehow very maddening novel. **** ( )
  sibylline | Dec 11, 2023 |
Elképzelek egy húszéves érettségi találkozót, ahol az egykori diákok nosztalgiázásba merülnek.
- Gizi nénire emlékeztek? Fú, mekkora forma volt!
- Ja. És Szűcs tanár úr megvan? Azta, milyen meggybora volt neki, még mindig feljön tőle a savam!
- Igen, igen. És Rukla tanár úr?
- ...?
- Tudjátok, aki irodalmat tanított.
- Nem földrajzot?
- Nem, irodalmat.
- Persze, rémlik. De nem jut eszembe róla semmi.
- Igazából nekem se.

Rukla tanár úr statiszta mások életében. Ha eszébe is jut egykori diákjainak, csak homályos pacaként materializálódik, akihez nem is tudnak arcot rendelni. Ő a mellékszereplő, aki rendre kimarad a nagyjelenetekből, a forgatókönyv-írók pedig a gyengébb mondatokat adják neki. A háttérben kolbászol, a cselekmény akkor zajlik, ha ő nincs ott. Revelációi senkit sem érdekelnek, a légüres térbe potyognak és visszhang nélkül halnak el. Amikor pedig mégis fel tudja hívni magára a kozmikus rendező figyelmét, amikor egy pillanatra saját történetének főszereplőjeként tud megjelenni, ennek az ára alkalmasint az, hogy egy tragédia súlyát vonja magára.

Megj.: Nehéz elvonatkoztatni a magyar címtől, ami - azt gondolom - jobb, mint az eredeti. (Ami kb.: "Szégyenlősség és méltóság".) Ami érdekes kérdést vet fel: találhat ki jobbat a fordító, mint az eredeti? Azt gondolom, nem. Egyszerűen nem erre szerződött. Kertész Judit címmagyarítása ugyanis olyan erővel hívott elő egy olvasatot, hogy attól nem is tudtam függetleníteni magam. ( )
  Kuszma | Jul 2, 2022 |
This is a mostly gloomy, occasionally hilarious take on modern middle-class life. Middle-aged highschool teacher Elias Rukla stops at a roundabout and starts reminiscing about his entire adulthood, slowly finding out that he's become only a supporting character in his own life, and perhaps has been for a long time. A more conventional novel would follow that insight with a sequence of actions Elias would take to fix that situation, but Solstad is not interested in that, keeping the focus on the past instead. When I finished this book, I thought it was missing a "real" ending, but now I realize that it doesn't need one: Elias has been living a lie and something has to change, even if we don't get to find out exactly what. ( )
  fegolac | Dec 26, 2020 |
Un testo attuale, l'occidente neoliberista visto dall'angolo di Elias Rukla, intellettuale (ma è possibile utilizzare ancora questa parola?) depresso, deluso, perdente. Un angolo in cui esplodere è necessario. Per ripartire, facendo i conti con la vita, con il passato. ( )
  carben | Mar 24, 2020 |
Elias Rukla has taught Norwegian literature to bored secondary school students for more than 25 years. One day while teaching Ibsen's The Wild Duck (which he recognizes his students are 'not in a position to understand...To maintain anything else would be an insult to the old master....'), he experiences an epiphany. Later that day he breaks down into a public fit of rage, and realizes that his life has been irrevocably changed.

Elias Rukla spends the rest of the day wandering the city and reviewing his life in an attempt to understand how he has come to feel so alone and detached. In a moment of humor, he imagines, 'turning up for an audition to be selected as a fictional character and being scrutinized by the novelists of the 1920s. He could see how they declined with thanks, one after another, he saw Marcel Proust barely raise an eyelid before casting a brief, meaningful, ironic glance at his colleagues....Only Thomas Mann would take the poor candidate aspiring to be a fictional character seriously. He would have looked at Elias Rukla and asked if he could, in a few words, say why he was of the opinion that precisely his fate was suitable as fictional material, either in the capacity of a central character or a minor figure, for, after all, if one has the ambition to be a central character, one must have a clear understanding that one can also be suitable as a minor character---that is a condition that must be agreed to before any author will take the slightest interest in ones fate, he thought, Thomas Mann would have said to him. And after Elias Rukal had given an account of his life...Thomas Mann would give him a reserved but friendly look and say, Well I can't promise you anything as there is no way I can fit you and your life into my present plans, as far as I can see...but there will be other times after this, and then we can possibly come back to the matter....(This) should be sufficient to keep you from being discouraged and make you continue your life as before, even if you should not be granted the privilege of entering one of my novels, as a character.'

Elias is an iconic 20th century character--an alienated, isolated soul, 'a socially aware individual who no longer has anything to say,' and who doesn't know what to do next.

Highly recommended if you are in the mood for this sort of angst. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Apr 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Finnish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Egentligen var han en aningen försupen lektor i femtiårsåldern, med en fru som hade lagt lite för mycket på hullet, och som han åt frukost med varje morron.
Quotations
Last words
Information from the Swedish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Nothing in Elias' measured life, in his whole career as a teacher of literature, in his marriage to the 'indescribably beautiful' Eva, foreshadowed the events of that apparently ordinary day. He makes sure he has his headache pills and leaves for work as he has done every morning for the past twenty-five years. He is only too familiar with his pupils' hostile attitude both to his lectures and to himself, but today he feels their impatience, their oafishness, more painfully than ever before and, after their ritually dismissive and bored response to his passionate lecture on Ibsen's The Wild Duck, he reaches a point of crisis. Shyness and Dignity is the story of a man's awakening to a world that no longer recongises what he has always stood for or his talent. Dag Solstad is Norway's leading author, an icon among Scandinavian writers and a leading figure of the political left. This novel, in Sverre Lyngstad's fine translation, is one of Solstad's major works.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.99)
0.5
1 2
1.5
2 1
2.5 1
3 8
3.5 7
4 29
4.5 4
5 18

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 208,475,866 books! | Top bar: Always visible