Olav Duun

Olav Duun in 1936.
Memorial stone for Olav Duun, at the farm where he grew up, Øver-Dun. The location is Jøa, in Fosnes, Norway

Olav Duun (November 21, 1876 September 13, 1939) was a noteworthy author of Norwegian fiction. He is generally recognized to be one of the more outstanding writers in Norwegian literature. He once lacked only one vote to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.[1][2]

Early life

Duun was born in the traditional district Ytre Namdal,[3] on Jøa an island in the Namsen Fjord in Fosnes municipality, Nord-Trøndelag county, Norway. His parents were Johannes Antonius Duun and Ellen (Fossum) Duun. Olav Duun was born Ole Johannesen Raaby. Duun was the oldest in a family of eight siblings. During his years as a boy his family lived at several farms on the island, the last one being Duun. He adopted the last name Duun when he left the island to start his training as a teacher.

He attended the state school at Trøndelag. In 1901, Duun took a position as a school teacher at Levanger in Nord-Trøndelag county, Norway.

After accepting a post as a teacher

He completed the graduate teacher examination in 1904. In 1908, he was hired by the Ramberg school at Botne in Vestfold, where he combined teaching profession with writing poetry. He worked as a teacher in Holmestrand until 1927. At the age of fifty, he retired in order to devote his time to writing.[4]

Writing career

Duun was known as one of the outstanding writers of 20th-century Norwegian fiction. He stands as a remarkable synthesis of the Norwegian folk spirit and the European cultural form. Duun wrote in Landsmål, an amalgam of peasant dialects that developed into Nynorsk, one of the official languages of Norway. In the period 1907-38 he published 25 novels, four short story collections ("sagas" was his own genre term) and two children's books. Many of his books incorporate the dialects of his subjects: peasants, fishermen and farmers. His novels analyze the psychological and spiritual characteristics of rural, peasant life. Contact with family traditions is a strength for the heroes in his historical novels, and awareness of those who have lived before, and the strength of their actions can help modern people through crises.

The most notable works are his six volume, The People of Juvik, which deals with four generations of a family of peasant landowners. This work was translated into English and published as: The Trough of the Waves (1930), The Blind Man (1931), The Big Wedding (1932), Odin in Fairyland (1932), Odin Grows Up (1934) and Storm (1935).[5]


Former residence, now a library related to his works

Olav and Emma Duun's House (Olav og Emma Duuns Hus) is the former residence of Olav Duun and his wife Emma, at Ramberg in Holmestrand. There is a library containing manuscripts, letters, and other things related to the writing career of Olav Duun. The first floor is at the disposal of recipients of the Duun Scholarship. In the garden, a memorial park has been constructed containing commemorative rocks with lyrical quotes from Olav Duun’s poems.[6] The address is 20 Olav Duun Street.




  1. A History of Norwegian Literature(by Harald Beyer; New York University Press, 1956)
  2. Olav Duun (Store norske leksikon)
  3. Grethe F. Syéd med glitrende bok om Olav Duun
  4. Olav Duun -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia at www.britannica.com
  5. Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature, (edited by Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft, New York, The H. W. Wilson Company, 1942)
  6. House of Olav And Emma Duun

Other Reading

External links

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