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ABOUT JAKOB SANDE AND «Klokkargarden»



"Klokkargarden" is the name of the place where the Norwegian poet and writer Jakob Sande was born in 1906. He died in 1967, and during his lifetime he published 9 collections of poetry and 3 collections of short stories. He lived here until he went to upper secondary school at the age of 16.

Something about his authorship:

He is most famous for his poetry. And one reason why his books are still selling (he is in fact one of the best selling poets in Norway), and is read by a lot of people, might be that many of his poems were composed to be sung. Sande himself played the lute, and he liked to hear his verses in songs. In these days a new generation musicians use his lyrics in a rather more modern form. Another reason for his popularity is that the topics and themes had, and still have a big appeal to ordinary people, to the working class people, seamen, farmers and people in the countryside.

Due to his popularity among ordinary people, and the fact that some of his lyrics were made into popular songs, he has been compared to the Scotch poet, Robert Burns (- you know he who wrote "Old lang Syne"). Jakob Sande’s themes and topics were numerous and he can’t be put in one category: You will find poverty and suppression, bloody fights, drinking and regrets, love and hate, humour and wounded feelings. Many of his poems are about life at sea, and of course you will find the Norwegian scenery both in infernal stormy weather and, the opposite, emotional poems with description of nature in a quiet mood. You will find fear of death, but also a wish to be released from a more general fear and anxiety, like the more typical modernists.

Was he a traditional and ordinary poet?

It is clear that he wrote in a traditional form. But in other ways he was exceptional. To explain that it must be said that Sande wrote in the minority language, New-norwegian ("nynorsk"). This was not so special at his time, there had been New-norwegian writers before him. But he challenged the usual opinion of what a New-norwegian writer should write about. The old democratic movement from the end of the 19th century was fighting for liberal and national rights in a country which was in union with Sweden. The New-norwegian writers supported the national campaign, and the right to use this new writing language was a part of this national struggle. These earlier New-norwegian poets wrote mostly about life and death, belief end disbelief, nature and nation, national virtues, and so on. Mostly so called central lyrical themes. With Jakob Sande’s first works ("Black Nights" (1929) and "Storm from the West" (1931)) he brought in stories, themes and topics that were unusual in the New-norwegian tradition. In some way he therefore was a rebel, but also a lonely poet, disliked by the cultural élite in both the New-norwegian and the main language camp.

In many ways he was homeless in his own life. He was a teacher and lived most of his life in towns. He taught in Fredrikstad and Oslo. Here he was looked upon as a farmer with a strange dialect. He spent his holidays and his last years in Fjaler, mostly in Flekke at his cottage there. But to some of the people in Fjaler he was an intellectual with no practical skills, and he was also drinking a lot. But according to himself he felt at home here in Sunnfjord, among ordinary people.

is sympathy for the weak and oppressed is distinct; his poems and short stories are without mercy for people misusing their power, whether they were priests or other important persons. He brought in the ugliness of bloody fights and quarrels and many macabre situations. One of the most famous poems is a description of a body, a corpse. A young boy was found in a garden, and the body had been lying there for many months. The poem is a detailed description of a body in putrefaction and dissolution, filled with fat flies and creeping worms eating the remains of the body. The poem shows us the ugliness and truth of how death can be. (Even this poem was sung by a band called The Bergeners in the 70s. This should be good stuff for some black metal bands?) The origin of this poem was a boy living in the district who committed suicide because of his parents decision that he should become a small farmer. In spite of his artistic skills (in painting) his parents denied him further education. "The Finding of a Corpse" has been learned by rote by many young boys to impress their friends. Many of his grotesque poems have been read with a smile, and there could have been a smile on the poet’s face writing these, but recent readers think that this is a mask, a protection against the dramatic feelings in his poems.

In these save-the-animals-time, many of you surely will find "The Old Man and the Cat" to have a touch of the grotesque too. But it is a much funnier poem than "The Finding of a Corpse": The man in this poem sees the end of his life, but wants the cat to die first. It’s about a dangerous way to kill a cat, with dynamite. The problem is that the cat, with the dynamite around his body, is following the running man, while the fuse is burning, and comes nearer and nearer to the end... The old man wins by just a second.

"The Grindstone" is another humorous poem. A young boy is put to turning the grindstone. The sun was shining and he hated this hard work. But when a big horsefly landed on the stone, he hoped that this could be the solution: He took the sledge-hammer and killed the horsefly with a heavy stroke. It’s a poem about bad planning and short happiness. He was punished by being beaten on his back, and the new grindstone was just like the old one, or even worse.

"The forgotten Leprous" is a longer and more solemn poem about one of the expelled and unhappy people we find a lot of in Sande’s authorship. It’s about eleven leprous men. Ten of them are being healed from their illness by Jesus, but the main person, the eleventh, came too late to Golgathe, Jesus was already crucified. This is a free version of Luke 17.11-14 that tells about the ten leprous men who are healed by following Jesus' advice about showing up in front of the priests. Jakob Sande has inventet an eleventh leprous who is not told about in the Bible. This unhappy man is not saved, just because he was too late to meet Jesus. The question raised by the author is: What about all those who don't attain mercy?

This poem shows how he could use the Bible and the well-known stories from it in his own writing.

Some of his opponents accused him of being a blasphemous atheist. Nowadays this is not a usual point of view. Besides, he wrote some psalms and was proud to have one of these in the hymn-book. One of the most famous Norwegian Christmas songs is written by Jakob Sande ("Lights twinkling in peaceful Hamlet").

In addition to the Bible he used his own home land, its people and landscape in his authorship. He found his inspiration, the plots and intrigues, the characters and figures among the people around him. Stories told by his grandfather, living in the small house called "Bestefarsstaua" ("The Grandfather’s Cabin"), is one important source of his writing. Just like a more famous writer, Henrik Ibsen, I think he needed distance to what he wrote about. Ibsen went to Italy and wrote about Norwegians. Jakob Sande wrote most of his poems and short stories in towns, but he wrote about people from the countryside and from Sunnfjord.

85 years after his birthday, The Jakob Sande Association was established to work for increasing the interest in this writer.

In 1995 the last owner of Jakob Sande’s birthplace died, and the inheritors wanted to sell the estate. The majority in the municipal council was at that time positive to buying the estate. The reasons for this are many, not only that Jakob Sande was born here.

Another reason was that the area is next to another communal estate with buildings of historical importance. These buildings are the old "town hall" (the big white building), the old school (small white) and the bath house (the red building - all in the north-west). This bath house was built for the industrial workers (mainly from the shoe factory) in 1936, and used for this purpose until the late fifties. Later it has been used as a kindergarten too.

Furthermore there is another school house, the brick house called Vevang. To this junior secondary school came pupils from the whole country until the sixties. (Nowadays a working and training centre for the mentally retarded is located there).

All these buildings are important for the identity of the village Dale and tells us something about what is special about it. This can be summed up in three items:
1. The industry, with the shoe factory ( 200 employees in 1970, 20-30 today ) and two barrel factories. As herring was decimated, the barrel production came to an end in the sixties.
2. The school tradition, goes back to 1863 when Nikka Vonen started a private girls school, and in 1888 when Willa Falck started another boarding school for boys. These schools do not exist any longer. But we have a new high school, and the United World College at Haugland.
3. The author, Jakob Sande. Both his father and grandfather lived here in Klokkargarden, because they were teachers and parish clerks. (The name "Klokkargarden" means "The Farm of the Parish Clerk")

Accordingly Dale was a place not only with small farmers and seamen, but also industrial workers and some intellectuals. This estate is therefore an important part of the history and identity of the village. In octobre 1997 a private foundation bought the estate.

Roar Øvrebust

Contact for more information and visit:

Jakob Sande-selskapet email selskap@jakobsande.no  phone +47 57 73 77 75 (office) or mobile +47 99 54 87 67

Explore outer Sognefjord & Dalsfjord www.fjordkysten.no

The municipality of Fjaler www.fjaler.kommune.no





 



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