1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lie, Jonas Lauritz Edemil

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LIE, JONAS LAURITZ EDEMIL (1833–1908), Norwegian novelist, was born on the 6th of November 1833 close to Hougsund (Eker), near Drammen. In 1838, his father being appointed sheriff of Tromsö, the family removed to that Arctic town. Here the future novelist enjoyed an untrammelled childhood among the shipping of the little Nordland capital, and gained acquaintance with the wild seafaring life which he was afterwards to describe. In 1846 he was sent to the naval school at Frederiksvaern, but his extreme near-sight unfitted him for the service, and he was transferred to the Latin school at Bergen. In 1851 he went to the university of Christiania, where Ibsen and Björnson were among his fellow-students. Jonas Lie, however, showed at this time no inclination to literature. He pursued his studies as a lawyer, took his degrees in law in 1858, and settled down to practice as a solicitor in the little town of Kongsvinger. In 1860 he married his cousin, Thomasine Lie, whose collaboration in his work he acknowledged in 1893 in a graceful article in the Samtiden entitled “Min hustru.” In 1866 he published his first book, a volume of poems. He made unlucky speculations in wood, and the consequent financial embarrassment induced him to return to Christiania to try his luck as a man of letters. As a journalist he had no success, but in 1870 he published a melancholy little romance, Den Fremsynte (Eng. trans., The Visionary, 1894), which made him famous. Lie proceeded to Rome, and published Tales in 1871 and Tremasteren “Fremtiden” (Eng. trans., The BarqueFuture,” Chicago, 1879), a novel, in 1872. His first great book, however, was Lodsen og hans Hustru (The Pilot and his Wife, 1874), which placed him at the head of Norwegian novelists; it was written in the little town of Rocca di Papa in the Albano mountains. From that time Lie enjoyed, with Björnson and Ibsen, a stipend as poet from the Norwegian government. Lie spent the next few years partly in Dresden, partly in Stuttgart, with frequent summer excursions to Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian highlands. During his exile he produced the drama in verse called Faustina Strozzi (1876). Returning to Norway, Lie began a series of romances of modern life in Christiania, of which Thomas Ross (1878) and Adam Schrader (1879) were the earliest. He returned to Germany, and settled first in Dresden again, then in Hamburg, until 1882, when he took up his abode in Paris, where he lived in close retirement in the society of Scandinavian friends. His summers were spent at Berchtesgaden in Tirol. The novels of his German period are Rutland (1881) and Gaa paa (“Go Ahead!” 1882), tales of life in the Norwegian merchant navy. His subsequent works, produced with great regularity, enjoyed an immense reputation in Norway. Among the best of them are: Livsslaven (1883, Eng. trans., “One of Life’s Slaves,” 1895); Familjen paa Gilje (“The Family of Gilje,” 1883); Malstroem (1885), describing the gradual ruin of a Norwegian family; Et Samliv (“Life in Common,” 1887), describing a marriage of convenience. Two of the most successful of his novels were The Commodore’s Daughters (1886) and Niobe (1894), both of which were presented to English readers in the International library, edited by Mr Gosse. In 1891–1892 he wrote, under the influence of the new romantic impulse, twenty-four folk-tales, printed in two volumes entitled Trold. Some of these were translated by R. N. Bain in Weird Tales (1893), illustrated by L. Housman. Among his later works were the romance Naar Sol gaar ned (“When the Sun goes down,” 1895), the powerful novel of Dyre Rein (1896), the fairy drama of Lindelin (1897), Faste Forland (1899), a romance which contains much which is autobiographical, When the Iron Curtain falls (1901), and The Consul (1904). His Samlede Vaerker were published at Copenhagen in 14 vols. (1902–1904). Jonas Lie left Paris in 1891, and, after spending a year in Rome, returned to Norway, establishing himself at Holskogen, near Christiansand. He died at Christiania on the 5th of July 1908. As a novelist he stands with those minute and unobtrusive painters of contemporary manners who defy arrangement in this or that school. He is with Mrs Gaskell or Ferdinand Fabre; he is not entirely without relation with that old-fashioned favourite of the public, Fredrika Bremer.

His son, Erik Lie (b. 1868), published a successful volume of stories, Med Blyanten, in 1890; and is also the author of various works on literary history. An elder son, Mons Lie (b. 1864), studied the violin in Paris, but turned to literature in 1894. Among his works are the plays Tragedier om Kjaerlighed (1897); Lombardo and Agrippina (1898); Don Juan (1900); and the novels, Sjöfareren (1901); Adam Ravn (1903) and I. Kvindensnet (1904).  (E. G.)