S T O N E     F E N C E S 

a book
from the inner townships
from childhood in the fifties

By Paal-Helge Haugen

Translated by William Mishler and Roger Greenwald
Introduction by Roger Greenwald




“[Haugen’s] poetry achieves a perfection of form and image that is truly remarkable. [The] translations ... are excellent. ” — Halvard Dahlie, AASSC Bulletin

“These runes in a landscape speak in a voice elemental yet subtle, terse yet ample.... [The] translations capture ... the quintessence of the strong New Norwegian.” —J. G. Holland, Choice

“A novel vividly realized as a collection of poems.... The translation [is] graceful and readable.” —Charles Leland, University of Toronto Quarterly

Stone Fences, first published in Norwegian in 1979, is an outstanding work by one of Norway’s foremost poets—a unified sequence that could be called “a novel in poems.”

Taking an affectionate but hard look at his rural childhood, Paal-Helge Haugen vividly evokes his coming of age in postwar Norway. But from the first poem it is clear that he is trying to do more than re-create one person’s remembered experience. With a shifting, often collective point of view and a web of cross-references, Haugen builds, from deceptively simple poems, a complex portrait of a society. At the same time he reveals the seeds of the adult poet’s personal, political, and aesthetic consciousness.

“I’m trying to show,” Haugen says, “the contradictory, the ‘impure,’ everything that is so hard to label and analyze coolly and objectively, but that nevertheless controls important parts of our lives.”

Paal-Helge Haugen was born in 1945 in the Valley of Setesdal in Southern Norway; he now lives in Nodeland, near the south coast. Since 1967 he has published fourteen volumes of poetry, including two volumes of selected poems (1980, 1987) and one of collected poems (1995). His poetry has earned him many prestigious awards in Norway and Sweden and has been translated into Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, German, and English. Haugen has also published four volumes of translations into Norwegian from Chinese, Japanese, and American poetry, as well as an award-winning novel, Anne, which has been published in German translation, and works in several other genres. His 1985 volume of poems, Det overvintra lyset (Wintering with the Light) won both the Gyldendal Prize and the Nynorsk Literature Prize. An English version by Roger Greenwald won the Inger Sjöberg Translation Prize, awarded annually by the American-Scandinavian Foundation, and was published in 1997 by Sun & Moon Press.

William Mishler was Associate Professor in the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Minnesota. His poetry and translations appeared in numerous journals.

Roger Greenwald has published one book of poems, Connecting Flight (1993), several volumes of poetry in translation from Norwegian and Swedish, and two novels translated from Swedish. He has earned major awards for his poetry, including the CBC Radio / Saturday Night Literary Award (1994), as well as several translation prizes.

Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1986.
Bilingual edition: Norwegian (Nynorsk) and English.
ISBN 0-8262-0601-8
Paperback, $8.95

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