Perhaps the most amazing thing about Sverre Lyngstad's translation of Trætte Mænd is that it hasn't been done earlier. After all, Garborg's novel of disillusion and decadence marks not only a unique chapter in his work, but a point of peculiarity in Norwegian literature as a whole. Beginning with Joris-Karl Huysman's novel A Rebours (Against Nature, 1884), Fin de siècle decadent literature flourished in Europe during the waning years of the 19th Century. Oscar Wilde and Herman Bang were merely two of a host of authors producing such highly aesthetic and anti-bourgeois texts. Yet in Norway the trend remained largely absent - with only a few exceptions, including Garborg's novel. Thus Weary Men is a novel of particular literary-historical significance, and Lyngstad's translation a welcome appearance.
As to the translation itself, it is thoroughly adequate. While one occasionally wishes for a smoother turn of phrase (for example, "I alle tilfælde" is translated as "At all events" instead of the better-sounding "In any event"), the English rendition offers no significant stumbling blocks to the American reader. And the quality of translation improves significantly in the second half of the novel. It should also be mentioned that Lyngstad received the Inger Sjöberg Prize from the American-Scandinavian Foundation in 1996 for an excerpt of this translation.
In addition to the actual text of the novel, Per Buvik's Afterward will be useful to students and teachers alike, particularly to those less familiar with the decadent movement in 19th Century European literature. Buvik places the novel in general European and Norwegian contexts, as well as in the context of Garborg's overall authorship. He also surveys some of the more prominent readings and criticisms of the text. All-in-all, this book is a success, and its publication is to be greeted warmly.