Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The World of Oleanna: Myklebost i Jølster

Oleanna is set in Jølster, Norway in 1905, in the traditional area of Sunnfjord, and in the middle of the county Sogn og Fjordane (known as Nordre Bergenhus amt until 1919). Its main industry has always been agriculture, though now it's largely tourism--thanks to the incredible scenery and easy access to the largest glacier in continental Europe, Jostedalsbreen. Jølster is named after the Jølstra river, which in Old Norse (Jólmstr), a word describing the noise and rumble of the river. 

I have always been fascinated by the influence of place on people, and on history, and as such the lake and the mountains surrounding it are strong characters in and of themselves in Oleanna.  And though Jølster is incredibly beautiful and needed no change, I nevertheless took a bit of poetic license with the area in Oleanna.

In particular, the number of people and farms in the area in 1905 was more populous; in the Myklebost farm area alone there were over 70 people (including at least six Oles and four Knuts).

I also re-imagined the landscape--as you can see, it is quite wide and open to the lake, but I liked to think Oleanna and Elisabeth lived in a quiet, lonely corner, where the trees marched right down to the lakeside (increasing their sense of loneliness and isolation).

Photo from my collection, given to me by my mother.

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