SCANDINAVIAN 150: The Scandinavian Novel: Intrigue, Murder, and Madness

MWF 11-12 , 6415 Dwinelle. Instructor: Monica Hidalgo

Units: 4

L&S Breadth:  Arts & Literature

Plotting dwarfs, crazed lovers, megalomaniacs, and femmes fatales—these are but a few of the characters we will encounter as we examine the haunting narratives of classic Scandinavian novels of the 19th and 20th centuries as well as suspenseful modern Scandinavian crime fiction.

What sets these works apart is their ability to simultaneously tell complex stories about psychologically enigmatic characters, while at the same time raising challenging and even disturbing ethical quandaries. A guiding theme of the class will be to try to understand what it is about the formal structure of the novel that enables it to so effectively draw in readers to the ethical dilemmas faced by its characters. We will explore this theme reading classics such as J. P. Jacobsen’s Niels Lyhne, Knut Hamsun’s Hunger, Hjalmar Söderberg’s Doctor Glas, Pär Lagerkvist’s The Dwarf, Tarjei Vesaas’s The Ice Palace, and Peter Høeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow.


Hamsun, Knut. Hunger. Trans. Robert Bly. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998. ISBN-13: 978-0374525286

Høeg, Peter. Smilla’s Sense of Snow. Trans. Tiina Nunnally. Delta, 1995. ISBN-13: 9780385315142

Jacobsen, Jens Peter. Niels Lyhne. Trans. Tiina Nunnally. Penguin Classics, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0143039815

Lagerkvist, Pär. The Dwarf. Trans. Alexandra Dick. Hill and Wang, 1958. ISBN-13: 978-0374521356

Söderberg, Hjalmar. Doctor Glas. Trans. Paul Bitten Austin. Anchor, 2002. ISBN-13: 978-0385722674

Vesaas, Tarjei. The Ice Palace. Trans. Elizabeth Rokkan. Peter Owen Modern Classics, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-0720613292

*Additional readings will be made available in a course reader or bCourses.

Prerequisites:  None.  The course and readings are in English.