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Shyness and Dignity

Dag Solstad
He was a rather sottish senior master in his fifties, with a wife who had spread out a bit too much and with whom he had breakfast every morning. This autumn day, too, a Monday in October, not yet knowing as he sat at the breakfast table with a light headache that it would be the decisive day in his life.

From the outside, Elias Rukla seems to be satisfied with his life, his teaching, his marriage. But one day he has a revelation--a disturbing shock of recognition with one of Ibsen's characters in The Wild Duck. He anxiously examines the role of this seemingly unnecessary character to a classroom of bored and distracted students. Trying to open a stuck umbrella after class, he explodes with anger, and his life, as well as his career, are irrevocably changed. "It had happened to him, and for him it meant that he had fallen out. Fallen out of society, quite simply." As Elias leaves the scene of his rage, he relives his carefully charted life and earlier passions that led him to such a moment of high drama.

Solstad, praised in Norway as one of the most innovative novelists of his generation, offers an intricate and richly drawn portrait of a man lost in a world that, he feels, can no longer recognize him.

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A brilliant novel by celebrated Norwegian author, available for the first time in English

About the Author

Dag Solstad, author of Shyness and Dignity, is one of Norway’s leading contemporary authors. His work has consistently won critical acclaim and he is the only author to have received the prestigious Norwegian Literary Critics’ Award three times. Solstad lives in both Oslo and Berlin.
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Sverre Lyngstad was an acclaimed translator of many titles in Nowegian. He was Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the New Jersey Institute of Technology until his death in May 2011.
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  • “Mr. Solstad’s short, discursive novel describes a nervous breakdown that has implications for an entire culture.”—New York Sun
  • “Think of a fjord. This little book…will guide you to it, and beyond.”—Bloomsbury Review
  • “With sublime restraint and subtle modulation, Solstad conveys an entire age of sorrow and loss.”—Publishers Weekly
  • “[Shyness and Dignity] leaves the reader…amazed and satisfied.”—Library Journal
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