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173

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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while she herself felt tired and dissatisfied. He had been
working the whole summer, reading Greek tragedies and Keats
and Shelley when he was not painting.

“I should like to read the tragedies in the original,” said
Gunnar, “and I am going to learn Greek and Latin.”

“Dear me!” exclaimed Jenny. “I am afraid there are
so many things you will want to study before you get any peace
in your mind that you will end by not painting at all — except
in your holidays.”

“I have to learn those two languages because I am going to
write some articles.”

“You!” cried Jenny, laughing. “Are you going to write
articles too?”

“Yes; a long series of them about many different things.
Amongst others, that we must introduce Latin and Greek into
our schools again; we must see that we get some culture up
here. We cannot go on like this any longer. Our national
emblem will be a wooden porringer with painted roses on it
and some carving, which is supposed to be a clumsy imitation
of the poorest of all European styles, the rococo. That is how
we are national up here in Norway. You know that the best
praise they can give anybody in this country — artist or other
decent fellow — is that he has broken away — broken away
from school, tradition, customary manners, and ordinary
civilized people’s conception of seemly behaviour and decency.

“I should like to point out for once that, considering our
circumstances, it would be much more meritorious if somebody
tried to get into touch with, appropriate, exchange, and bring
home to this hole of ours some of the heaped-up treasures in
Europe that are called culture.

“What we do is to detach a small part from a connective
whole — a single ornament of a style, literally speaking — and
carve and chip such an ugly and clumsy copy of it that it
becomes unrecognizable. Then we boast that it is original or

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