Book Review: Look At Norway

Look At Norway, by Arne Damm and Carl Just

As someone who likes to look at Norway every once in a while [1], I thought this book would make for a lovely read, and though this book was published shortly after World War II by a Norwegian publisher, it has a lot to offer on a variety of levels.  For one, this book is written from the point of view of the Norwegian seeking to show the English-speaking world of Great Britain and especially the United States how beautiful Norway and its people are and the good that Norway brings to the world.  The author seems to have a high view of the knowledge that Americans have about Norway, because they assumed that the reading audience would be familiar with Ibsen, Amudsen, Nansen, and a few of the more famous winter athletes of the country, when many people would lack even that familiarity with Norway’s history and culture.  Anyway, it is hard to know if the authors are choosing to portray different aspects of Norwegian culture because they think it is important or because they think it ought to be of interest to Americans.  For the purposes of this review I am assuming that the motives are more along the lines of the second than the first, which leads to some interesting conclusions based on what is shown in the pictures and told in the captions.

Among the more striking aspects of this book is that it is nearly entirely bilingual in English and Norwegian.  Of course, it is not entirely bilingual, as there are occasions where the captions are different in one language than another, something I could recognize even though my familiarity with Norwegian is pretty limited.  For example, on page 69 of this book, the English caption says the following:  “He flies through the air with the greatest of ease–” and in Norwegian, it reads:  “Petter Hugsted, gullmedaljevinner ved vinter-olympiaden i St. Moritz 1948.”  With my limited knowledge of Norwegian, I translated that as:  “Peter Hugsted, gold medal winner at the Winter Olympics in St. Moritz 1948.”  The picture shows him ski jumping.  For the most part, though, at least from what I could tell, the words in both languages are pretty close.  I suppose if I want to increase my Norwegian vocabulary this would be a good book to look at–it has a lot of pictures and the captions are fairly small, so it is an undemanding way for readers to become acquainted with the Norwegian language, something that is unfamiliar to most Americans I would venture to say.

So, aside from a lot of beautiful black and white photos of Norway, its architecture, its sculpture, its landscapes, its people and animals, and so on, and short captions in both English and Norwegian, what does one get from this book?  Well, one gets the feeling that the authors believe that Americans are particularly interested in knowing about the fiercely independent nature of Norwegians, about its history and culture, and also that Americans want to see pretty Norwegian girls.  Of course, these girls would be about the age of my grandmother now, but the sentiment is certainly one that is appreciated, even if one wonders whether Norwegians would show swimming or dancing “daughters of Eve” if they did not have opinions about what the interests of the readers were.  At any rate, this book is a fairly undemanding read, but it demonstrates the pride the Norwegians have in their political and social order, and it gives a picture as to Norway in the postwar period seeking to rebuild its merchant marine and infrastructure after the destruction of World War II.  It shows a proud people looking to be respected and well-regarded and thought of highly in the West, and those ambitions have largely been met, even if Norway is not a different sort of country than it was all those years ago.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/08/30/the-norway-treatment/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/02/19/somaliland-update-norway-aids-somaliland-anti-piracy-efforts/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/23/book-review-the-shetland-bus/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/21/book-review-hitlers-arctic-war/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/21/book-review-of-norwegian-ways/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/02/06/book-review-ibsen-a-collection-of-critical-essays/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/23/movie-review-ni-liv-nine-lives-1957/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/20/book-review-we-die-alone/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Book Review: Look At Norway

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