From the Introduction.
Every step of Jonas Lie's development from this first novel to The Family at Gilje (1883) is of interest to the student of literature. It was a period of hard study, careful, conscientious work, and high resolve to master his powers and to utilize his varied experiences for literary purposes, in order to be able to serve Mother Norway, -for one must never forget the intense patriotic ardor of all Norway's great writers, artists, and musicians. By the aid of a government stipend, Lie was enabled to visit Nordland and the western coast to promote his literary production, and soon afterward a second and larger stipend for the purpose of foreign travel made it possible for him to visit Rome, the Mecca of all Scandinavian artists and literati of the period. There he remained more than three years, a time of fruitful toil and stimulating experience. In 1876 he sent home two books relating to life on the western and northern coast, The Good Ship Future, and a collection of short stories.
Lie was not content* however, to be "the poet of Nordland," as he at once had been named. His ambition was to be more national. In the broader realms of literary activity the giant figures of Ibsen and Bjornson towered. They were deep in the problems of the day. How could he become national and modern? Instinct led him on in paths that unconsciously he had already trodden. In this nation of seafarers he was the first in modern literature to discover the coast-dwellers and to portray their struggles on the sea. His first book contained a description of a storm in northern waters that makes the reader hold his breath. In the volume of short stories, which in their scenes sweep along the western coast, and in The Good Ship Future as well, there was a distinct odor of the sea. This was natural enough: he had spent his early years in Nordland and in Bergen, the centre of Norwegian shipping, and he loved the sea passionately. In his next novel, The Pilot and his Wife, he put to sea with sails hoisted to the top.show more