The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Lisbeth Longfrock: Preface

Lisbeth Longfrock

I dug up this open source children's story to spice up our journey through winter.  Stay tuned at lunch time every day (when I remember) for installments of this early twentieth century Norwegian tale.  If you just can't stand the suspense, you can read the whole thing at


Translated from the Norwegian of
Hans Aanrud


Illustrated by Othar Holmboe


style="font-family: Century Schoolbook L; font-weight: bold;">PREFACE

Hans Aanrud's short stories are considered by his own countrymen as belonging to the most original and artistically finished life pictures that have been produced by the younger literati of Norway. They are generally concerned with peasant character, and present in true balance the coarse and fine in peasant nature. The style of speech is occasionally over-concrete for sophisticated ears, but it is not unwholesome. Of weak or cloying sweetness—so abhorrent to Norwegian taste—there is never a trace.

Sidsel Sidsærk was dedicated to the author's daughter on her eighth birthday, and is doubtless largely reminiscent of Aanrud's own childhood. If I have been able to give a rendering at all worthy of the original, readers of Lisbeth Longfrock will find that the whole story breathes a spirit of unaffected poetry not inconsistent with the common life which it depicts. This fine blending of the poetic and commonplace is another characteristic of Aanrud's writings.

While translating the book I was living in the region where the scenes of the story are laid, and had the benefit of local knowledge concerning terms used, customs referred to, etc. No pains were spared in verifying particulars, especially through elderly people on the farms, who could best explain the old-fashioned terms and who had a clear remembrance of obsolescent details of sæter life. For this welcome help and for elucidations through other friends I wish here to offer my hearty thanks.

Being desirous of having the conditions of Norwegian farm life made as clear as possible to young English and American readers, I felt that several illustrations were necessary and that it would be well for these to be the work of a Norwegian. To understand how the sun can be already high in the heavens when it rises, and how, when it sets, the shadow of the western mountain can creep as quickly as it does from the bottom of the valley up the opposite slope, one must have some conception of the narrowness of Norwegian valleys, with steep mountain ridges on either side. I felt also that readers would be interested in pictures showing how the dooryard of a well-to-do Norwegian farm looks, how the open fireplace of the roomy kitchen differs from our fireplaces, how tall and slender a Norwegian stove is, built with alternating spaces and heat boxes, several stories high, and how Crookhorn and the billy goat appeared when about to begin their grand tussle up at Hoel Sæter.

Sidsel Sidsærk has given much pleasure to old and young. I hope that Lisbeth Longfrock may have the same good fortune.


Hopkinton, Massachusetts

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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