Publication Year: 1991
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Introduction to the Emigrant Novels
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"HOT-TEMPERED, easily moved, and changeable" was how the Swedish novelist Vilhelm Moberg once described himself.l He might have added that in the first half of the twentieth century he was both the most widely admired and the most deeply distrusted of all Swedish authors. A man of humble origins but immense ambition and strong opinions, Moberg spent his entire literary...
Introduction to The Emigrants
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BEGUN IN SWEDEN and completed in California, this first volume of the Emigrant Novels appeared in 1949 with the Swedish title Utvandrarna. It was published in English in 1951 as The Emigrants. Nineteenth-century Swedish emigration to America took place in three principal phases: individual, group, and mass migration. Group emigration was most common between 1845 and 1865 as powerful forces, so-called push...
Bibliography for the Emigrant Novels: Compiled by Vilhelm Moberg
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Suggested Readings in English: Compiled by Roger McKnight
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About Vilhelm Moberg: Holmes, Philip. Vilhelm Moberg. Boston: Twayne, 1980. McKnight, Roger, "The New Columbus: Vilhelm Moberg Confronts American Society," Scandinavian Studies 64 (Summer 1992):356-89. Moberg, Vilhelm. The Unknown Swedes: A Book About Swedes and America, Past and Present. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988. Thorstensson, Roland B. "Vilhelm Moberg as a Dramatist for...
By Way of Introduction
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THIS is the story of a group of people who in 1850 left their homes in Ljuder Parish, in the province of Sm�land, Sweden, and emigrated to North America. They were the first of many to leave their village. They came from a land of small cottages and large families. They were people of the soil, and they came of a stock which for thousands of years had tilled...
PART ONE: Gates on the Road to America
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KING IN HIS STONE KINGDOM
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MJ�DAHULT IS ONE of Ljuder's most ancient homesteads. Its name is mentioned in a court record two hundred years before the discovery of America. The Nilsa family had tilled and lived on this farm as far back in history as paper is preserved, as far as the memory of generations can reach. The first known owner was Nils in Mj�dahult after whom the...
THE FARMHAND WHO DROWNED IN THE MILL BROOK
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ROBERT, NILS' AND M�RTA'S SECOND SON, was ten years younger than Karl Oskar. When he was little he had caused his parents a great deal of trouble by running away as soon as he was outside the house. He would disappear into the woodlands and they might spend hours looking for him among the junipers. They hung a cowbell round...
WHAT THE BEDBUGS IN A STABLE ROOM MUST LISTEN TO
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THE FARMSTEAD NYBACKEN had a master and mistress, plus an old mistress on reserved rights, three maids in the maids' room, and two farm hands in the stable room. Aron's hired men lived in the barn next to the horses' stalls. Their room had a deal table, a bench for each of them, two beds filled with straw, and a horse blanket each. In walls and...
KARL OSKAR AND KRISTINA
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IN THIS YEAR-"the 5,85oth since the creation of the world," according to the almanac--the early summer was the driest in thirty-one years. During the month of June not a drop of rain fell. Dry, harsh winds from east and north blew constantly, but never the west wind, the wind of rain. The sun glared day after day from a cloudless sky. The...
�KE RETURNS FROM THE INSANE ASYLUM
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DANJEL ANDREASSON, at forty-four years of age, was the nearest surviving relative of the �kian founder. He was known as a good-natured man, and until now his life had been quiet and blameless. He had piously accepted the only right and true faith, thus showing a sound religious concept. His home, K�rrag�rde, at one time sorely tainted by...
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THE WAGONLOADS of oak timbers began rolling toward Karlshamn in the autumn, but Aron of Nybacken himself went with his team. He said that he was so concerned about his little hand that he dared not let him out on long journeys. A door which had seemed open was shut in Robert's face. There were many closed gates on the road to America. His master still had no confidence in him. And yet, ever since Robert began...
ABOUT A WHEAT FIELD AND A BOWL OF BARLEY PORRIDGE
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THE FIRST SHIPS have already crossed the ocean, bearing emigrants away from the land. There is a stir in peasant communities which have been the home of unchangeableness itself for thousands of years. To the earth folk, seeing their plots diminish while their offspring increase, tidings have come of a vast land on another continent where fertile soil was to be had almost for the taking by all who wished to come and till it. Into...
WITH GOD'S HELP AND THROUGH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE AUTHORITIES
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ONE DAY IN FEBRUARY the churchwarden, Per Persson, came to Dean Brusander with grave tidings: behind locked doors in Karragarde Danjel Andreasson gathered his house folk and neighbors to nightly meetings and administered the Lord's Holy Supper. At first the dean would not believe his warden: the news was too shocking. But Per Persson had the word of eyewitnesses; some young people happening by the other night...
THE AMERICA CHEST
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A WHOLE YEAR PASSED during which Karl Oskar and Kristina made preparations for their emigration, feeling as if they were already on the move. There was so much to do and to think about they could not sink too deeply into sorrow over their dead child. Karl Oskar let it be announced from the church pulpit that his farm was for sale. News soon spread through the parish that the farmer of Korpamoen intended to move ...
A PEASANT BOWS FOR THE LAST TIME
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THIS WAS THE DAWN of a great era in the lives of the old clothes chests throughout the peasant communities. After centuries of neglect in dark loft corners they were now being scrubbed and polished and prepared for their voyage across the great sea. These chests were to be in the vanguard of history's greatest migration. To them would be entrusted...
ONE EMIGRANT PAYS NO FARE
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IN THE NEWSPAPER Barometern, to which some of the farmers in the village subscribed, there appeared early in spring a news item about a lost emigrant ship: "Owing to absence of communications of any kind, one is now forced to admit the sad foundering and total loss of the small schooner Betty Catharina, built in 1835, measuring 80 lasts, on voyage...
ALL GATES OPEN ON THE ROAD TO AMERICA
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THEY SET OUT on a Thursday, and the day was well chosen. The heathen god with the hammer-Thor-had been a mighty god in whom their forebears had put their trust, and still far into Christian times his weekday was considered an auspicious day for the beginning of a new venture. Besides, there was a new moon, a good omen for the emigrants. Nearly a thousand years had passed since people of this region had gathered into groups to...
PART TWO: Peasants at Sea
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THE CHARLOTTA OF KARLSHAMN
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The brig Charlotta, Captain Lorentz, sailed from Karlshamn April 14, 1850, with New York as her destination. The ship's capacity was 160 lasts, her length 124 feet, and her width 20 feet. She had a crew of fifteen: 2 mates, 1 bosun, 1 carpenter, I sailmaker, I cook, 4 able-bodied seaman, 2 ordinary seamen, and 3 deckhands. She was loaded with pig...
FORTY PACES LONG AND EIGHT PACES WIDE
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IN THE HOLD enormous pieces of canvas had been hung to separate the space into three compartments: one for married couples and children, bunks were toward the stern, partitioned off by bulkheads of rough boards nailed together. The small cells looked like cattle pens or horses' stalls. Beds were made on the deck of the hold with mattresses and...
A CARGO OF DREAMS
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SOMETIMES DURING THE NIGHTS the emigrants lay awake and turned in their bunks, listening to each other's movements and to all the sounds of the ship. Karl Oskar: We are on the voyage and very little is actually the way I had thought it would be. But whether it goes well or ill, I'll never regret my step.The stupidest thing a man can do is regret something that's already...
HAPPENINGS ON BOARD THE SHIP
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THE BRIG Charlotta sails through night and day in the mist and drizzle of the April spring. The sails in her two full-rigged masts hang limp and lifeless-the wind is still light. The ship's heavy body lies deep in the sea. The sea's beast of burden, a camel in the water desert, she plows her way slowly through the soft, blue-green billows. The figurehead on her prow ...
". . . THE SHIP WAS COVERED WITH WAVES . . ."
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ON THE NORTH SEA the emigrants encountered their first rough weather. It began to blow in the evening-at midnight the captain judged the wind to be the ninth grade, according to Beaufort's Scale. The Charlotta's topsails were now bottom-reeved, and in the log the first mate wrote: "Storm." Robert: He awakened. Something heavy had rolled on him-his brother's body. He had gone to sleep as...
A BUSHEL OF EARTH FROM SWEDEN
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KARL OSKAR NILSSON was one of the passengers in the ship's hold who could best stand the sea. He felt as well here on the ocean as he did on firm land. As yet he had not missed a single meal. The food was supplied by the ship, and he liked to get his due; many of the seasick peasants lay and fretted because they couldn't swallow a bite, although...
AT HOME AND AWAY
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THE WEATHER IMPROVED, the air was warmer. They had clear days when the sun remained long on deck. And for several days the brig Charlottoa of Karlshamn enjoyed an even stern wind which gave her good speed. When the sea had come to rest the disquiet and upheaval in the passengers' intestines disappeared. When the weather grew calm, calmness also entered into the people. The seasick ones improved little by...
STORIES ON THE AFTERDECK
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ROBERT AND ELIN sat on the leeward side of the afterdeck, close together, their backs against a coil of rope. They were reading a textbook in English which Robert had bought in Karlshamn. It was a pleasant afternoon on the Charlotta; she was sailing in a leisurely way with a moderate quartering wind. The emigrants sat in small groups on deck and whiled away the time; the May sun shone over the...
IT WAS CALLED SHIP-SICKNESS
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As THE WEEKS WENT BY most of the emigrants accustomed themselves to the rolling of the ship. Kristina recuperated from her seasickness; she was up and about and able to eat almost regularly. But she did not feel as well as she used to on land. A certain weakness remained in her limbs, and a weight, as it were, pressed down her whole body-she moved about sluggishly and...
STORY TOLD AT THE MAIN HATCH
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THE PASSENGERS on the Charlotta were active people. Their lives had been passed in work; Sundays and weekdays they were accustomed to being occupied. Peasants and their wives always have something to do with their hands. On the ship which now carried them they encountered something new: idleness. They cleaned their quarters in the hold daily, they prepared food...
PEASANTS AT SEA
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THE EMIGRANTS-the strayed ones in this world-brought with them a small book, Almanac for the Year after the Saviour Christ's Birth the185oth, which they consulted daily. In the empty space between the date and the sign of Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, they marked each passing day with a small cross. They wanted at least to know where they were in the calendar year, even though unable to fathom their whereabouts...
A LONG NIGHT
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ONE NIGHT KARL OSKAR was awakened by Johan. The child stood at his bunk, pulling at his blanket. "Father! Wake up!" "What is it? What do you want?" "Mother is bleeding!" "What is Mother doing?" "She is bleeding-I was to tell you." Karl Oskar was not far from his wife's sleeping place, and he was at her side in an instant. On the floor beside...
ANOTHER THREE SHOVELFULS OF EARTH FROM SWEDEN
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CAPTAIN LORENTZ SAT in his cabin and mused over a piece of paper with a few lines written on it: "Wife Inga-Lena Andersdotter from K�rrag�rde in Ljuder Parish, Konga County, born October 4, 1809; joined in marriage with homeowner Danjel Andreasson, June 23, 1833...." Name, sex, and age-that was all he required, all he needed to know...
SAILING TOWARD MIDSUMMER
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ROBERT AND RUN stood leaning against the rail and watched the porpoises play alongside the ship. The fat round fishes looked like suckling pigs, and they tumbled about in the water as a mill wheel turns in its channel. These were the largest fishes the youth and girl had ever seen.But Robert had no fishing gear handy. His fishpoles, lines, and hooks...
Page Count: 366
Publication Year: 1991