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175

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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dropping into her lap? And how he wishes to be one of the young
Greeks who go to meet death at Thermopylæ, fearless and
merry as if going to dance? Their names are sacred, and
Simonides in dying sings songs of praise from the top of
Antelos.

“And all the old beautiful tales, symbols, and parables that
will never grow old. Think of Orpheus and Eurydice — so
simple; the faith of love conquers death even; a single instant
of doubt and everything is lost. But in this country they know
only that it is the book of an opera.

“The English and the French have used the old symbols in
making new and living art. Abroad, in certain good periods,
there were people born with instincts and feelings so highly
cultivated that they could be developed into an ability to make
the fate of the Atrides understood and moving as a reality.
The Swedes, too, have living connections with the classics —
but we have never had them. What kind of books do we read
here — and write? — feminine novels about sexless fancy-figures
in empire dress, and dirty Danish books, which do not
interest any man above sixteen, unless he is obliged to wear
an electric belt. Or about some green youth, prattling of the
mysterious eternal feminine to a little chorus girl who is
impertinent to him and deceives him, because he has not sense
enough to understand that the riddle can be solved by means
of a good caning.”

Jenny laughed. Gunnar was walking up and down the
door.

“Hjerrild, I think, is working at a book on the ‘Sphinx’
at present. As it happens, I also knew the lady once. It never
went so far that I soiled my hands by giving her a thrashing,
but I had been fond enough of her to feel it rather badly when
I discovered her deceit. I have worked it off, you see. I
don’t think there is anything you cannot get over in time by
your own effort.”

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