Norway’s cultural scene: Welcome to the mountains!


In Bergen it rains 300 days a year. Some leave the place, others will be creative: Norway’s second largest city is not only wealthy, but can also look back on a long literary Tradition.

It’s raining in the mountains. Of course. Depressing weather, but quite fruitful. Because Bergen’s grey skies rich flourishes of its very own literature. Although many residents and connects love with the mountains of hate.

“Many leave the city, move away,” writes the Norwegian author Tomas Espedal, 1961 in mountains born. His book “Bergeners” is a mixture of literary portrait of and love letter to his hometown. “Many people don’t manage to stay longer in the mountains: The prison-like rain, the humidity locked between the mountains makes you sick and tired of life. One is forced to live behind closed doors, alone or in small families.”

Also Tomas Espedal has to leave town for a couple of years. But he came back, because of the longing. The music scene in the city is very good, he says, and the literary scene only. A large family that holds together. “And I like the people and the mentality really. I like the language, the way you talk: very mean and harsh and very fretful, very naughty, very arrogant. I love this!”

Mountains, rainy

Mockingly, he is on the other hand, when it comes to Bergen’s civil side, the mentality of the old established families, the your probably the trade thanks. Over the centuries, the Hanseatic city of Bergen, the envelope was a place for Goods in Northern Europe. The wind still tell today, leaning Kontor-houses in the district of Bryggen, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The descendants of these merchants live in fine villas, the in the lofty heights towering over the city. A world in which, as Tomas Espedal, everything turn just about the money.”The Bergen citizenship is the most boring and least attractive item there is; what should I write about it, about you, these families that are as good as invisible?”, it is in “Bergeners”.

Self-Confident City Of Culture

But there is still the other mountains – the city of culture, the Norwegian capital, Oslo, offers self-conscious to stand up: with the national theatre, at the Henrik some years the house Ibsen the poet was; a Museum of art that celebrates the genius of Edvard Munch, especially in a large Shop; with the University and its libraries; a dedicated literature house including well-stocked bookstore; with Restaurants, pubs and Bars, and of course the famous writing Academy, it attracts young authors from all over the country.

Of today world-famous Karl Ove Knausgard in 1988 was one of the first students, and Tomas Espedal officially be a teacher. Suddenly, says Espedal, had at the time, lived in a loud very good young authors from all Parts of Norway in Bergen. “So we have to challenge each other. What can we do? What can we do radical? I wanted to do something Radical with the literature. And Knausgard said: I’m even more radical! That was a kind of competition”.

Tomas Espedal was a radical competition with Karl Ove Knausgard.

Thus, a literature was invented, the biographer is extremely car, and subjective – feeling soaked, full of doubts, Fears, longings. And without any regard for the privacy of others – a provocation! Norway is one of the last socialist country in Northern Europe, says Espedal. The have said the Swedish Prime Minister changes.

“And it’s true, because there is still a social democratic way of thinking. You have the obligation to take care of his neighbors and to be a part of the community. You should not say ‘I’. So there was no ‘I’ in the literature, except in the case of Hamsun (Knut Hamsun, one of the most important writers in Norway in the early 20th century. Century, Editor’s Note. d. editorial). And is in all respects the exception to the rule. If ‘I’ says, then it means: What do you mean, who are you?”

Behind the rain

A free man who says what he thinks, I would reply to Tomas Espedal well. Knausgard now lives in Sweden. But the Café Opera, in which he has in common with other authors, the nights through, is not always accurate, nor is it a scene.

Today, the Poet Henning Bergsvag organises regular readings. One evening in September, he presented the anthology, “Behind the rain”, with texts and poems by twelve, in the mountains, living authors, including the Grande Dame of Norwegian dramatic and lyric poetry, Cecilie Løveid, the subtle all-rounder, Frode Grytten, and the young poet Katrine Heiberg.

“It rains here always, 300 days of the year,” said Henning Bergsvag. “So you have to do something. I think this is our medium, in order not to be depressed and crazy. We need to be creative in order to survive.”

Bryggen, between two rain showers

To survive in a country whose population is material very well. Because of the oil that is promoted for almost 50 years before the coast of Norway, and made the poor fishermen and farmers in the country one of the richest in the world. Even future generations will benefit thanks to clever strategic government Fund from the profits. Many Norwegians have Oil drilling has long been a love-hate relationship.

They knew, however, says Henning Bergsvag that you live by fossil fuels, what’s the harm in the world. “My child lives, survived thanks to this money. I think a lot of writers and artists deal with the Problem. If you are promoted, you will know that the government support of Oil money. So, how to handle it?”

“We all know that the good times come to an end,” says Tomas Espedal. Therefore, one should live well now – partying, drinking, Smoking, listening to music. Otherwise, you would be stupid. But it is not the Job of authors to participate in this Party. And then he puts on his hat and trudges in the rain coat and high rubber boots.