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Lucky Per

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  1,210 ratings  ·  118 reviews
Lucky Per, written at the turn from the nineteenth to the twentieth century (1898-1904), has never before been translated into English, although its author, Henrik Pontoppidan, won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1917 together with his Danish countryman Karl Adolph Gjellerup. Indeed, Pontoppidan's novel was singled out by writers like Thomas Mann and Georg Lucacs as semi ...more
Paperback, 558 pages
Published October 6th 2010 by Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers (first published 1898)
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Judith I had no complaints with the Lebowitz translation, but when I read her "Translator's Afterword," a tangled hyperbolic knot of academic prose on the li…moreI had no complaints with the Lebowitz translation, but when I read her "Translator's Afterword," a tangled hyperbolic knot of academic prose on the literary & theological influences upon Pontoppidan, I began to wonder. I have no idea about the other translation, bought this one after reading the Wood review.(less)
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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 ·  1,210 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s a complete mystery to me why this book isn’t better known and why it hasn’t taken its place amongst the canon of great European novels. It wasn’t translated into English until 2010, and with that translation and now with a new one in 2018 under the title of A Fortunate Man perhaps it will gain a wider readership. It certainly deserves to. Its author Henrik Pontoppidan (1857-1943) was an acclaimed Danish author but is little known outside his native land – although in 1917 he was awarded, al ...more
Christina Stind
I have been with my boyfriend for more than 10 years. We met when we were in our late 20s and have often talked about, how I probably wouldn’t have liked him if we had met each other earlier.
This is how I feel about Lykke-Per, the protagonist.
He is not very like able, necessarily, for great parts of the book but he is so very young, with all the flaws this implies. He is not always very nice to the people around him, only if they can be if use to him. He is very selfish and mostly wish to promo
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I feel the exact same way about Lucky Per as I do about War and Peace. Despite stumbling upon nuggets of brilliance here and there and enjoying exquisite depictions of times and customs long gone, I was never really swept off my feet. And just as with War and Peace, the amount of what felt like filler proved staggering. I realize that I lack both regional knowledge and academic training to wholly grasp everything Lucky Per has to offer: if a little late in the game, the translator’s afterword, a ...more
Adam Nissen Feldt
Wonderful by an extremely empathetic, razor sharp and witty writer. We have still to tackle many of the problems in our society and in ourselves that Per personifies. Highly recommended (English version available).
Bob Brinkmeyer
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second Danish novel I’ve read lately and, as in my other review, I’m going to bring a distinctly American literature perspective to what I have to say, American literature what I know best (at least in terms of literature). Anyway, Pontoppidan is certainly better known in Europe than in the US, despite having won the Nobel Prize in 1917 and despite having many of the most important European modernists as admirers.

Originally published in 1898, Lucky Per looks forward to the coming of
Tod Wodicka
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now here is a book I almost gave up on numerous times over the first 100 or so pages; even setting it aside for a few weeks. Eventually I picked it up again, I don't know why. I like the cover. Turned out to be one the greatest novels I've read. Talk about accumulative effect. It's left a certain part of me reeling. ...more
Jazzy Lemon
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pontoppidan won the Nobel in 1917, and this book was only recently translated. Like Pontoppidan, Per lives in Jutland, Denmark. More than just a bildungsroman, it encompasses his life, dreams, and plans for the future of his country. Written in beautiful prose, this book explores religion and social justice as we follow the journeys of Lucky Per.
Like the star rating subtitle says so accurately: "It was ok".
Jakobe is worth at least one star for being one of the best written female characters in the part of classic Danish literature that I have read. I love that she gets her completely own arc, so that we can see the story from her viewpoint even when Per isn't there.

Which brings me to my main complaint: not only is Per an increasingly unlikable character (I've read books before where that didn't bother me) but he is also dull. I had no i
ReemK10 (Paper Pills)
I don't know what to make of this novel. Definitely interesting, but something was off. I had to put the book down and pick it up much later, so that may have interfered with my reading. It may just be that I was a shallow reader of this novel. If you read the translator's afterword, you will surely want to read " one of the greatest novels of European literature."
Molly Dektar
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh no, I’m really upset now! Good book I read slowly and I’m sad it’s over.
Jan 16, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book I’ve ever read. It’s amazing that it’s not so popular as some of the mostly known great novels, like War and Peace

Visit the locations in the novel

Translated novels are always interesting to read. When one is 100 years old and has a new translation, it’s worth more than a brief glance.

Lucky Per seems to be a simple title, but the word Lykke in Danish can mean both happiness and luck. This novel therefore looks into the difference between the two and what the relationship between them is.

An interesting novel this and one which reminded me of an adult fairy tale in the way there’s a moral side to the story and
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I wanted a big epic novel to read while I took some time off work. I chose poorly. Not only is Per an infuriating character, but the entire plot is tedious. Are you interested in the logistical, administrative, philosophical and political aspects of engineering and waterways in late 19th century Denmark? If you are, this book is for you. I was reminded of big American books about industry that I could also not get through: Theodore Dresier’s The Financier and Frank Norris’ The Octopus. The writ ...more
Jun 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing like randomly perusing the shelves of a library and stumbling across a book that piques one's interest. That is how I discovered 'Lucky Per'. When I read on the jacket that Pontopiddan had won the Nobel prize I was embarrassed to realize I had never heard of him. I then discovered that pretty much no one outside of Europe had been aware of his writings until the late 2000s. Published in 1904, this is a great literary novel and I agree with critics cited in the jacket that it doe ...more
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Lucky Per is never a fully likable character and the mastery of the author is such that you want to quickly read on to find out what is in store for him next, and how he will mess it up. The most enjoyable part was that of Jakobe Salomon, a Danish Anna Karenina who does not succumb to tragedy but keeps it together and finds a place in the world. We should find another great writer to conjure for us what became of her in her later years.
Jul 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jerry Pogan
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exceptionally well written book. Pontoppidan wrote the book in 1898 but it reads like it could have been written today with only the subject matter dating it. The story is somewhat autobiographical and loosely follows Pontoppidan's early years growing up in an overly religious family and his attending engineering school. The main protagonist is Per Sidenius who rebelled as a child against his parents and their strict religious practices and later became estranged from his family. He grew up t ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I saw Billy August's movie with the same name and it was so good, that I decided to read H. Pontoppidan's novel. The story line in the book is quite different, so I highly recommend you reading the book, also to get a lot of more details. In Danish, Pontoppidan had a wonderful language describing a character, an event or some "philosophical" ideas with logic and humor. No wonder he was a winner of Noble Price in literature. Read "Lykke-Per" to get an authentic picture of Denmark and its culture, ...more
I keep putting it aside and picking it up again. As a fan of the classics and 19th century style writing, I was excited to dive into this Bildungsroman. Yet... the protagonist, Peter, is just too unlikable, and not in a fascinating way. I mean, I didn’t mind George Duroy‘s awfulness in “Bel Ami” and he WAS awful. I could kind of understand where Heathcliff was coming from in "Wuthering Heights" and he was not a good man. But Per? Here we have a charmless jerk personified. I almost don’t care to ...more
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great masterpiece. That rare long book where every page deserves its place. I would not cut anything. If you love Tolstoy, or wish Turgenev wrote longer novels, this should be in your wheelhouse. I thank Everyman's Library for bringing out an English translation of this work, but do have one gripe for them: THE PRINT IS TOO SMALL. I do not want to go blind from reading. Please, bigger print in future books. Thank you. ...more
Phil O'Riordan
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like if this had been written today I’d give it five stars, because it’s just as much about contemporary Danish society as it is about its protagonists. Unfortunately while the characters are still just as entertaining today, I don’t feel like I got much out of reading about fin-de-siècle Copenhagen other than the chance to use the phrase ‘fin-de-siecle’ in a review.
David Curry
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I pretty much hold as a gold standard for the writing of fiction the ability to make life occur on the page through language. Seldom have I seen this standard more fully met than in Henrik Pontoppidan’s 1904 novel Lucky Per. The author’s command of scene, character and dialogue grips and delights straight through the book.

Early in the novel, we get a description of young people — including the title character, in violation of a household curfew — sledding on a hill late at night:

“During the de
Apr 26, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a late chapter of Lucky Per, Pontoppidan’s hero befriends the dour and vaguely disreputable Pastor Fjaltring. Both men lead intellectually isolated lives but they discover a shared interest in books. “The solitary life is, from time to time, very sociable,” Pastor Fjaltring says, with reference to reading. “When you look inside yourself with sufficient thoroughness, you often have the strange sensation of having hosted visitors.”

Books can do that: rearrange the mental furniture, hang a new pi
Alexander Bøhme
Nov 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Lykke-Per stands to me as the greatest danish novel ever written.
It is absolutely massive, and demands so much patience from the reader with its at times very slow pace. But what you get from this is an author who simply takes his time to tell his story in full. Lykke-Per feels neither rushed nor drawn out. Where The Fall of the King stands as the de facto "greatest danish novel of the 20th century", sporting quite the conservative viewpoint, even for its time, Lykke-Per is refreshingly progress
Dolf van der Haven
Nobel Prize 🏆 in Literature 1917
What a fantastic novel! Thank you Nobel Prize commitee for keeping the name Pontoppidan alive by awarding him the 1917 Nobel Prize. Sadly, this first English translation only came out in 2010, so generations have missed the best novel I read this year and a contender for my top-20 of all times.
Lucky Per turns out to have a mixed fate. At tue surface, he seems to be a common philanderer and gold-digger, but his psychology is much more complex than that. This story
Men Men Men!

What do men want! Success, wealth, family, or fame! Is it enough to be talented to be successful, or men must use sneaky ways to climb the ladder of success! Why men tend to risk everything for nothing! No matter how someone can plan carefully for their path, life is always full of surprises. Is it a matter of our choices or fate has always a predetermined route for us! Either ways, women pay the price for men’s misery.

“When we get a little older, in our impatience we cast our eye o
Miriam Jacobs
Jul 07, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish
The story is engrossing and the various literary elements got me thinking. However, the translation is so faulty - i can see it and I don't speak Danish - with mistakes on every page if you include comma errors, it spoiled my enjoyment repeatedly.

Part of the problem is that the translator seems not to know English well. The 21st century anachronisms ("That being said" is one example) just about killed me - and not in a positive way. A persistent error that can be found throughout is the insiste
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read because I'd never heard of this author, Denmark's most famous historically, winner of 1917 Nobel in Lit for this book. A long exhumation through the depressive character of Per Sidenius, country boy and stern pastor's son, who has an engineering dream of a canal system for Jutland, comes to Copenhagen (start of th engine). Saga of the painful transition to modernity -- its social, economic, psychological consequences for a mostly agricultural people. Per is not exactly admirable, but his up ...more
Shane Hankins
This book features a main character who remains unhappy in his life (and boring to the reader) despite his serial acts of selfishness and transgression. He is a bore whose self obsessions and casual meanness towards other is alienating and trying. He ruins his own life (despite the constant generosity of others) and cuts a swath of callous destruction through the lives of those who love and support him. The book features dozens of pages of transcendent, incandescently beautiful writing. This is ...more
Matthew Leigh
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the finest book I have read in a very long time. To say that it is about a young engineer who seeks to transform the economy of Jutland with ambitious schemes for wind and wave energy would be merely to describe the narrative frame. Rather it is the story of the spiritual evolution both of Per, the titular hero, and of Jakobe Salomon, the sister of his greatest supporter. The novel's conclusion is magnificent in its austerity. ...more
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Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1917 "for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark." (Award shared with Karl Gjellerup.) ...more

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