Lost to Translation: Agnar Mykle

Anyone interested in Norwegian literature, obscenity trials, eccentric authors, and Great Books You’ve Never Read (and who isn’t, really), should check out a new article called “Obscene Act: The Tragic Fall of Norway’s Agnar Mykle,” by Lewis Manalo. Manalo is an author, critic, and the book buyer at Idlewild Books (a great, independent bookstore in Manhattan that specializes in travel and world literature).

The article on Mykle is part of Publishing Perspectives‘ series “The Best Authors You (May) Have Never Heard Of,” and deals most directly with Mykle’s oft-abridged, now out-of-print, but apparently phenomenal novel The Song of the Red Ruby. Published in the 50s, The Song of the Red Ruby was considered pornographic by some because “considerable portions of the book are dominated by extreme descriptions of sexual acts such as manipulation and licking of the sexual organs and acts of coitus in various positions and situations with the emphasis on details and individual peculiarities in the genital organs of the females concerned and their reactions.”

Mykle was eventually acquitted of the obscenity charges, but his personal life and career never recovered. I had never heard of Mykle outside of some references that are made to him in Jan Kjaerstad’s Wergeland Trilogy, but I think I’m going to have to do some searching for Red Ruby (in its uncensored form) now. It sounds like it will be be more than worth the trouble to track it down.


One thought on “Lost to Translation: Agnar Mykle

  1. I found Agnar Mykle’s Song of the Red Ruby in English translation in a used bookstore in Phnom Penh. The novel is a delight.

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