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Pelle The Conqueror
by Martin Andersen Nex°, Trans. By Jesse Muir And Bernard Miall
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Complete edition (Parts I to IV): I. Boyhood; II. Apprenticeship; III. The Great Struggle; IV. Daybreak. Martin Andersen Nexo (1869-1954) was born in the slums of Copenhagen into extreme poverty. He was the fourth of eleven children. His father, a stone mason, was an alcoholic and his mother was a daughter of a blacksmith. When he was eight, the family moved to the town of Nexo on the island of Bornholm, whose name he adopted in 1894 as his own. His breakthrough work, the Danish classic Pelle the Conqueror, appeared between 1906 (Part I) and 1910 (Part IV). It tells the story of Pelle, a poor boy, whose life in Part I shares much similarities with Nexø's. "The great charm of the book lies in the fact that the writer knows the poor from within; he has not studied them as an outsider may, but has lived with them and felt with them, at once a participant and a keen-eyed spectator. He is no sentimentalist, and so rich is his imagination that he passes on rapidly from one scene to the next, sketching often in a few pages what another novelist would be content to work out into long chapters or whole volumes. His sympathy is of the widest, and he makes us see tragedies behind the little comedies, and comedies behind the little tragedies, of the seemingly sordid lives of the working people whom he loves." (Otto Jespersen) "Pelle" has conquered the hearts of the reading public of Denmark and of the world. The first part of the book was filmed by Bille August; in 1989 the film won the Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film.
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