18th November 2011

When I visited the Utvandrarnas Hus (The Swedish Emigrant Institute) in Sweden, I saw that the museum hosts a room dedicated to the powerful work of Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg. He became most famous for his four novel suite collectively called The Emigrants, written in the 1940s and 50s. The books describe the long and strenuous journey of a group of people from Småland, Sweden to Minnesota, USA, where they settle, during the Swedish emigration to North America during the1850s.

I’ve just finished reading the first of the series, The Emigrants. Karl Oskar and his wife Kristina take the huge risk of starting a new life in the New World, leaving behind their former way of life, their farm and their parents in Korpamoen, Småland. Will they discover a new beginning, a land with rich fertile soil, where they can make new homes and make a new living?

There is great characterisation and description of the agonies of decision for the farmers and their families. As the small band of pilgrims set hesitant feet onto the soil of the New World, it still feels as if the ground moves beneath them, as the waters have done for so long. Can they continue to look forward, or will thoughts of the home they have left behind continue to haunt them?

This sculpture by Axel Olsson, of Karl Oskar and Kristina can be seen in the Utvandrarnas Hus:

220px-karlshamn_auswandererdenkmal

(picture from Wikipedia)

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