‘Of All my books just a few are indispensible to me, and two even are always among my things, wherever I am … the Bible, and the books of the great Danish writer, Jens Peter Jacobsen.’ — Rainer Maria Rilke
Niels Lyhne 1880 is Jens Peter Jacobsen’s Decadent masterpiece that captured the attention of a generation. Stefan Zweig spoke of it as ‘the Werter of our generation’, and it evoked the enthusiasm of Ibsen, Thomas Mann, Freud and Rilke. It became a cult book during the last twenty years of the nineteenth century, and beyond. The Australian-born Henry Handel Richardson 1870–1946 was the first to translate Jacobsen’s novel into English, and, under the title of Siren Voices, hers was the version read by James Joyce and T.E. Lawrence, among others. It was her first book-length publication, the novel that showed her how she herself might become a writer.
This new scholarly edition is the first reprinting of Richardson’s translation since 1906. It provides an accurate text, restores Richardson’s preferred title, and includes a detailed introduction to the writing, readership, critical response, and influence of Niels Lyhne. There are also detailed notes and appendices, including Richardson’s own previously unpublished introduction, her critical essay on Jacobsen and Danish literature, her essay on Ibsen, and reviews on her translation.
This edition published in 2003 by Australian Scholarly Publishing