The Ice Palace (Peter Owen Modern Classics)

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The Ice Palace (Peter Owen Modern Classics)

The Ice Palace (Peter Owen Modern Classics)

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I say, there is something that Vesaas definitely missed. You see, ice can also be seen as a prism to break white light up into the colours of the rainbow. We have a significant amount of snow on the ground for the first time in four years. With this influx of winter weather, it is comforting to read books about snow and colder climates. I have seen a number of goodreads friends review Tarjei Vesaas' definitive book the Ice Palace. In need of a foreign prize award winner for classics bingo, I decided to read his masterpiece for myself. Short in length, this novella is poignant in its prose as Vesaas writes of grieving and survivors guilt' in this harrowing coming of age tale. But still, they find it difficult to express what they are feeling. Unn confesses that she has something she needs to share with Siss and tells her that ‘I’m not sure that I’ll go to heaven’. Siss is overwhelmed, too many emotions are rising and bursting out of her at once. She does not want to hear Unn’s confession, not yet anyway. She decides she needs to leave. Unn is reluctant to let her go at first, but eventually steps aside and allows Siss to do so. Também senti muito a morte da Unn, principalmente por me identificar demais com ela. Aquela parte que aparece o rosto dela congelado e depois corta pra Siss na banheira vai ficar comigo pra sempre. This is not a confession of a woman that is tormented by guilt for failing to save the life of the child that was entrusted upon her. Auntie is not comforting Siss to help her overcome the grief after losing a loved one. This is a declaration of a woman trapped in a chronic condition that forces her to act against her nature, living in an emotional, physical, mental and ontological self-exile. An ailing human. A broken human. Auntie poses as an example of what should be avoided.

Das Eisschloss (1963) von Tarjei Vesaas ist einer jener Klassiker, die lange unter meinem Radar flogen. Ich meine, es ist überhaupt mein erstes Buch eines norwegischen Schriftstellers. Auf BookTube, vermehrt im englischsprachigen Raum, hielten es jedoch immer mehr Leute in die Kamera und so wurde auch ich darauf aufmerksam. Ich vermute, dass es an dem wunderschönen Cover der Penguin Classics-Ausgabe liegt, die so erst 2018 erschien. Wie dem auch sei, ich bin froh, es endlich gelesen zu haben. I’m a worthless creature,’ said Auntie shortly afterwards, when they were nearing her house, nearing the end of the evening. She began again: ‘Worthless. The people here have done everything for me during this misfortune, and now I’m going like this when I ought to take my leave properly". Unn is translated as "the one who is loved" yet it can be read as the prefix un-loved as in abandoned. Nothing weighs on her like what Unn didn't say, but in descriptions of her interaction with her classmates, her parents, and the Auntie Vesaas captures the childish (and also adult) difficulty of communicating and of dealing with the unspoken very well. Fitzgerald’s ‘The Ice Palace’ is, first and foremost, about the differences between the North and the South in the United States, and the differing temperaments of the people who inhabit each. Whereas Sally Carrol’s South is associated with sleepiness, laziness, and warmth, Harry’s North is associated with coldness: both the coldness of the weather and the detached and even hostile attitudes of the locals. In the North, we might say, the coldness is a matter of temperament as well as temperature.


The author wrote a dozen novels, almost all of which have been translated into English. He wrote in Nynorsk, a dialect of Norwegian.

Like the other children Siss is curious about the new girl, and she feels a sort of connexion to her. I appreciated the simple lyrical writing, at times almost like poetry. The story kept my interest, but I thought it a got a bit repetitive or drawn-out and the whole story became too much like a fable. It seemed to me to stretch plausibility that one girl would become so obsessed or infatuated with the other girl after a few hours during one evening at her house (even though some odd stuff goes on). I felt I was reading a fable by Paulo Coelho, which I'm not a fan of.

Vesaas beautifully captures this so tentative pre-adolescent fumbling towards relationships, both between Unn and Siss, and then among all their classmates. Fitzgerald later wrote another short story, "The Jelly-Bean", which was published in the 1922 collection Tales of the Jazz Age. A sequel to "The Ice Palace", it returned to Tarleton with several references to many of the characters in the earlier work. Siss and Unn, two eleven-year old girls living in an isolated, rural community somewhere in Scandinavia, need only a single evening together to forge an uncommon friendship that will change their lives irreparably. Create a plot using drama (record plot ideas with partner and act out the scenario using new character)

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