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When I Was a Child

An Autobiographical Novel

Vilhelm Moberg

Publication Year: 2014

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Title Page, Copyright, Quote, Dedication

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Chapter I

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pp. 3-24

On March 14, 1885, Nils Gottfried Thor, representing district 128 Strängshult, entered the Uppvidinge Company of the Kalmar Regiment as a recruit. He was the son of August Thor, who had served in the same capacity for Korpahult in Madesjö parish. As a soldier he was given the name Sträng for the district he represented...

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Chapter II

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pp. 25-34

Valter’s world widened. He opened more gates and walked farther out into the world. He walked all the way to the village. Father no longer led him by the hand—he could walk about by himself and observe...

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Chapter III

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pp. 35-46

The Russo-Japanese War broke out during the winter. The Japanese had made an unexpected attack on the Russian fleet in Port Arthur harbor. Now frequent visits were made to cottages with newspapers. The name of the Russian fortress became...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 47-60

Valter went with his father to the forest to peel fence posts. Now he was big enough to do useful work. And being seven years of age, he was supposed to earn his food. During the spring his schoolwork prevented him from helping Father, but during the fall he attended school only on Fridays and could help in the forest other weekdays...

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Chapter V

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pp. 61-72

On a drizzly day in December when Soldier-Sträng and Gunnar and Valter were out in the forest cutting posts, a timber-driver passed by with his load and told them King Oscar had died. A message had arrived by telegraph to the minister that he must toll the churchbells...

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Chapter VI

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pp. 73-90

On Sundays Valter and Gunnar roamed the forest wastelands, searching for groundhog nests, throwing stones at squirrels, fishing in the lakes. They came upon hidden glades deep in the forest and stopped in surprise; here grew planted gooseberry bushes, covered with red, ripe berries. No one picked these gooseberries any more; these bushes were forgotten...

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Chapter VII

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pp. 91-102

Soldier 128 Sträng came home from the maneuver almost blind; after a few weeks he was totally blind.
The Army doctor had said that his diseased eyes were the result of his diabetes. A film had grown over his eyeballs. The film was so thin that it was noticeable only through a magnifying glass, but...

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 103-118

There was talk of a strike at Ljungdala. The blowers and their assistants demanded higher pay. The unrest spread to neighboring factories.
The political tension between Master Sjölin and Elmer Sandin had increased nearly to the bursting-point. Master Sjölin would address his assistant: “You damned sossy!” Master Sjölin himself...

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Chapter IX

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pp. 119-130

Soldier-Sträng kept busy at his net-binding frame. He tied large and small meshes, thousands and more thousands of meshes; his hands found their way in the dark. He made strong nets from “bear thread” which no fish could manage to tear. When he finished a net sixty feet long, he began on a new one. He sat working in the...

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Chapter X

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pp. 131-156

The summer of 1909 began with lock-outs and rain and much talk about the Czar, and ended with the big strike.
The Czar of all Russia, “the world’s greatest tyrant,” came to Stockholm to visit Sweden’s King. A sossy—Hjalmar Vang—was to shoot the Czar, but couldn’t get close enough; instead he shot a Swede, General Bäckman, and then himself. Many sossies were thrown into prison...

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Chapter XI

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pp. 157-168

In the rolls of Uppvidinge Company a notation was entered after soldier Nils Sträng’s number: “Deceased at home.”
And in the spring of 1910 the soldier’s widow moved away from the soldier-cottage. She returned to her mother’s old shack in the wastelands at Trångadal. This cottage had stood unoccupied...

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Chapter XII

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pp. 169-188

The eerie Fågeltuva bog with its frightening vastness was no more; it had been drained and a peat factory built on its edge. Valter got a job in the peat factory as wire-cutter. The wire was used for baling the dried peat, which was sold to farmers for animal-bedding and fertilizer mix. Here he was paid one crown...

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Chapter XIII

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pp. 189-202

His quest for comrades continued. He had his “brethren” and “sisters” in the lodge, but they were not class-conscious. He sought comrades in the class-fight. Comrade and socialist were one and the same thing. Comrade was a powerful word; worker comrades throughout the world would save humanity. And salvation...

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Chapter XIV

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pp. 203-222

At the quarterly meeting in April, Valter Sträng was elected president of the Lodestar, the local chapter of the temperance society.
Older brethren and sisters had hesitated to vote for him because of his youth, but Joel-Nightstoker had reminded the members that Valter had belonged to the lodge almost four years, that he...

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Chapter XV

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pp. 223-232

It was a summer of retrogression: some of the workers in the peat factory thought that a war might break out among the Great Powers; even organized workers feared the possibility of war. Valter reminded his comrades that at the 1907 Stuttgart Congress all the European workers belonging to the Second Internationale had...

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Chapter XVI

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pp. 233-246

Returning from the factory one day, Valter stopped at the post office to pick up the week’s mail. There was an America-letter addressed to him personally. This was unusual, for his sister and brothers always addressed their letters to his mother. Not that it mattered much who the addressee was, as he read the letters to his...

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Chapter XVII

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pp. 247-254

Astrike broke out in the peat factory and lasted almost through the summer. Its end brought humiliation to Valter and his comrades: they must return to their work on the same conditions as before...

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Chapter XVIII

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pp. 255-269

There were only three weeks left before his ship would sail. A ticket had been ordered from the White Star Line agent. Valter had not written his brothers or his sister to ask for help; as they hadn’t offered, he wouldn’t ask. He wanted to show them that he could emigrate with his own money. The America-journey...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780873519311
E-ISBN-10: 0873519310
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873519250
Print-ISBN-10: 0873519256

Publication Year: 2014

Edition: 1

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