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The Trial of Sören Qvist

Janet Lewis

Publication Year: 2013

Originally published in 1947, The Trial of Sören Qvist has been praised by a number of critics for its intriguing plot and Janet Lewis’s powerful writing. And in the introduction to this new edition, Swallow Press executive editor and author Kevin Haworth calls attention to the contemporary feeling of the story—despite its having been written more than fifty years ago and set several hundred years in the past. As in Lewis’s best-known novel, The Wife of Martin Guerre, the plot derives from Samuel March Phillips’s nineteenth-century study, Famous Cases of Circumstantial Evidence, in which this British legal historian considered the trial of Pastor Sören Qvist to be the most striking case.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Series: Cases of Circumstantial Evidence


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p. 1-1

Praise, Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-9


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

The Trial of Sören Qvist is the second novel in Janet Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence, following The Wife of Martin Guerre. Though not as well known as Martin Guerre, for some critics Sören Qvist is their favorite of Lewis’s novels. Fred Inglis, who wrote often about Lewis, declares of the book, “Probably it is the most perfect of Janet Lewis’ novels, and among the most perfect of any novels.”1 ...

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Foreword for the First Swallow Press Edition

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pp. xvii-xviii

The story of the Parson of Vejlby is famous in Denmark. Steen Steesen Blicher (1782–1848), himself a Jutlander and a Parson, tells it in his Knitting Room Stories. ...

The Trial of Sören Qvist

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pp. 1-2

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pp. 3-10

The inn lay in a hollow, the low hill, wooded with leafless beech trees, rising behind it in a gentle round just high enough to break the good draft from the inn chimneys, so that on this chill day the smoke rose a little and then fell downward. The air was clouded with dampness. ...

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pp. 11-28

The one-armed beggar went on toward the village of Aalsö. After the nearness of warmth and nourishment withheld, the evening seemed increasingly lonely and the cold more penetrating. The twilight faded so slowly that the lessening of the light seemed rather a thickening of the air, ...

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pp. 29-33

Judge Tryg Thorwaldsen was entertaining guests, but he left his place at the table to greet the pastor from Aalsö. From the door at the head of the stairs, for the dining room was on the first floor, the pastor surveyed the company seated about the long oak table. The room was narrow, paneled with oak. ...

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pp. 34-47

After Vibeke had seen the pastor cloaked and mounted and upon his way to Vejlby, she brought fresh wood to the fire and then, latching the door against a slight wind that seemed to be rising from the west, returned to her seat behind the fire. The beggar had not stirred from his place on the other side of the hearth. ...

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pp. 48-62

The man who painted the sign of the Red Horse Inn at Vejlby was a realist rather than a theorist. He painted what he saw, like an artist, rather than what he knew, like a child or a farmer. Therefore the red horse of the sign stood with his forelegs close together, one obscuring the other, and his hind legs properly apart, as had stood the model for the sign. ...

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pp. 63-76

On a morning shortly before Whitsun, Parson Sören Jensen Qvist was seated in his study. This room, like that in which the bride bed stood, was ceiled. It had one small window, unglazed, to be closed with a wooden shutter, and one door which opened on the passage to the kitchen and the garden. ...

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pp. 77-82

On Whitsunday of the year 1625, Parson Sören Qvist baptized the child of Hans and Ida Möller with water and salt into the community of Christ. Majestic in the authority which he assumed on Sundays, robed in the long black ornat with the white gauffered collar which Anna kept fresh and crisp for him with much patient care, ...

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pp. 83-92

The linden crowns grew thick about the steep roofs of the parsonage, and in the corners of walls and by the edge of the pond the burdock grew tall. The geese took shelter under the coarse rough leaves, and the children made baskets of the green burrs. Cinquefoil, with small yellow blossom, and ranunculus, with glossy yellow cup, ...

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pp. 93-103

Anna did not know when the dancing stopped and the last guests departed. She woke once and noticed that everything was still, but the pallor which showed through the crack between the shutters was not that of morning. Then she slept again, and woke late. There were voices in the kitchen. ...

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pp. 104-115

In less than a week Niels returned to the parsonage. He came to the field where Hans and the pastor were cultivating. Hans saw him advance through the young rye and approach the parson with his hat in his hand and his head bent. He expected to see him depart again promptly, but the parson spoke to him at length, and, it seemed, very kindly. ...

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pp. 116-124

So Niels stayed on. He had become, in a way beyond his comprehension, possessed of an immunity as far as his master was concerned. He noticed, even he, that Sören Qvist, when speaking to him, had developed the habit of standing with his hands behind his back. ...

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pp. 125-137

On the second night following the parson’s great anger, Kirsten did not sleep very well. She thought that the parson did not rest well either. Lying awake beside Vibeke, she thought she heard him moving about. The weather seemed to be changing. The down quilt felt too warm, and the girl was thirsty. ...

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pp. 138-144

They took Sören Qvist to the jail at Grenaa, Anna riding with them because she would not leave him. The parsonage was left in a turmoil. Nevertheless, in spite of the excitement and confusion, before nightfall certain things were accomplished. Hans and Lars Sondergaard had made a wooden coffin and had placed therein the rotting body. ...

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pp. 145-153

Late in the afternoon of that same day when the first hearing of the parson’s case was held, the body disinterred in his garden was committed to holy ground in Vejlby churchyard, under the ministration of Peder Korf of Aalsö. Morten Bruus was there as witness and mourner, and Judge Thorwaldsen as the King’s representative. ...

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pp. 154-168

Tryg’s conversation with Pastor Korf in the churchyard at Vejlby left him no heart for a visit with Anna Sörensdaughter that evening. All through the grim afternoon he had cherished the thought of speaking with her; the tenderness of his thought for her was a charm against the malice and hatred which he felt drawing ever closer about them all. ...

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pp. 169-172

There had come a fisher’s boat to Varberg in Skaane with a catch of herring. The young overseer of a manor some miles inland, being in the harbor town on business, came down to the docks to visit with the fishermen. He had made a habit of doing so for many years. ...

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pp. 173-181

Mist lay on the fields that November morning as the party from Vejlby parsonage took the road to Rosmos. With them rode Peder Sörensen, a solid, fair-haired figure, firm in the saddle, and lending to them all, in his quiet young strength, a new security and hope. ...

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pp. 182-190

The pastor regained consciousness very slowly. Those who were watching him saw him move his hand a little, then, after an interval, he opened his eyes, but he did not look at any of them. The eyes, focused as if upon some very remote object, might, in their rapt and steady concentration, have been observing an apocalyptic vision. ...

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pp. 191-198

That afternoon the wind began to blow a little, shifting the mist that had overhung the countryside. As Anna and her companions left Rosmos, riding on slowly past wooded knolls and gently rolling farmland, lights and shadows began to change above the trees; the oaks shone suddenly coppery bright as a patch of sunlight moved across them. ...

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pp. 199-203

The jail wife was seated near the fire with her child in her arms. She looked up briefly as Anna entered the room, but did not greet her. The jailkeeper came from a shadowy corner and went directly to the door to the inner room, which he unlocked and held open. ...

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pp. 204-209

The motion of the boat was acquiescent to the motion of the wave that sank behind the stern with a prolonged liquid gurgle, both boat and wave running before the light, steady wind. The prow made a soft crushing noise that swelled and faded in a long, slow rhythm. The sail held steady. ...

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pp. 210-216

The girl slept long, the youthfulness of her body taking mastery over the sorrow of her mind. She slept deeply, below any dreaming remembrance of her grief, and when she woke she was refreshed and strengthened. Before she had opened her eyes she thought that she was in her own room at Vejlby. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780804040549
E-ISBN-10: 0804040540
Print-ISBN-13: 9780804011440
Print-ISBN-10: 0804011443

Page Count: 234
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Series Title: Cases of Circumstantial Evidence