An Ibsen scholar falls desperately out of society?publication coinciding with Ibsen's 100th anniversary celebrations
In front of him, twenty-nine young men and women about the age of eighteen who looked at him and returned his greeting. He asked them to take out their school edition of The Wild Duck. He was once more struck by their hostile attitude toward him. But it couldn't be helped, he had a task to perform and was going through with it. It was from them as a group that he sensed that massive dislike sent forth by their bodies. Individually they could be very pleasant, but together, positioned like now, at their desks, they constituted a structural enmity, directed at him and all that he stood for.
Elias Rukla begins yet another day under the leaden Oslo sky. At the high school where he teaches, a novel insight into Ibsen's The Wild Duck grips him with a passion so intense that he barely notices the disinterest of his students. After the lesson, when a broken umbrella provokes an unpredictable rage, he barely notices the students' intense curiosity. He soon realizes, however, that this day will be the decisive day of his life.
With Shyness and Dignity, Dag Solstad - praised in Norway as one of the most innovative novelists of his generation - offers an intricate and richly drawn portrait of a man who feels irrevocably alienated from contemporary culture, politics, and, ultimately, humanity.