Alexander Lange Kielland was born in Stavanger on the 18th of February 1849. He belonged to one of the oldest merchant families in Stavanger, and he grew up in one of the city's most wealthy homes.
Alexander Kielland (1849 - 1906)
Alexander Lange Kielland was born in Stavanger on the 18th of February 1849. He belonged to one of the oldest merchant families in Stavanger, and he grew up in one of the city's most wealthy homes. As a boy, Alexander attended the Stavanger Cathedral School. In spite of being a clever student, Alexander disliked school. Later on in his novel "Gift" (Poison), he was to rebel against the dominant teaching methods of that time, and against the contents of this school in particular. Alexander achieved an education in law, and later on bought a brickworks factory in Stavanger, which he ran until 1881. During this period, he acquired excellent knowledge of the practical business life, as well as knowledge of the tough living conditions under which the working class of the time lived. The latter was something Kielland would take a great interest in.
While managing the brickworks factory he read extensively, in particular literature with reference to radical thinking and philosophy. During this period, Kielland studied names such as Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, Søren Kierkegaard and Georg Brandes.
When he then in the end of the 1870's made his debut as an author, it came as no surprise that he positioned himself on the very far left wing of politics, among the most radical. His controversial view on most issues in society led him to not receiving a poet salary from the state as opposed to other great contemporary authors, despite the fact that both Bjørnson and Jonas Lie supported his position. However, several representatives believed that one could not support a man who through his radical poetry was "a danger to law and order"!
The majority of his production, predominantly novels in the realistic style, was published in the beginning of and in mid-1880. With the exception of a few novelettes from Denmark, written after a stay there, his novels mainly take place in Stavanger and neighbouring areas. They include strong criticism of the small town's hypocrisy, the exploitation of the workers by the upper class, the teaching methods in school and the church. Kielland's writing approach was often flavoured by satire, a method of criticism that is most likely destined to offend?
In 1889, after a short stay in France, Kielland took over the position as editor of the Stavanger Avis (Stavanger's local newspaper at the time). Two years later he became the Mayor of Stavanger, and in 1902 he became the Regional Commissioner of Romsdal. After following this path in his career, he published little new literature. Kielland passed away in 1906.
An overview of Kielland's most important works:
o NOVELLETTER, 1879
o GARMAN OG WORSE, 1880
o ARBEIDSFOLK, 1881
o ELSE. EN JULEFORTÆLLING, 1881
o SKIPPER WORSE, 1882
o TO NOVELLETTER FRA DANMARK, 1882
o GIFT, 1883
o FORTUNA, 1884
o SNE, 1886
o ST. HANS FEST, 1887
o BETTYS FORMYNDER, 1887
o JACOB, 1891
In 2019 a Kielland centre was opened in Stavanger Bibliotek, Sølvberget