Brenda, My Darling

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9780976198932: Brenda, My Darling

Brenda Ueland, author of the best book on writing ever written, (Carl Sandburg on If You Want to Write), and patron saint of all aspiring writers, was the recipient of more than 30 love letters from the Norwegian explorer, humanitarian and winner of the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize Fridtjof Nansen. The two met in New York City in 1929. They had a brief love affair and a year long correspondence until his death. Brenda, My Darling presents Nansen s letters to Ueland, (hers to him are lost) and a sampling of Ueland s published work and unpublished diaries. Nansen s love letters are some of the most passionate, candid and eloquent in the English language.

From the Foreword, by Nansen biographer Per Egil Hegge: These love letters from Fridtjof Nansen to Brenda Ueland make for compelling reading. Nansen s fiery confessions of his great love for Ueland would have been considered semi-pornographic only a half century ago. The Norwegian saying when the old house catches fire, it burns with great heat, fully applies. But, because the letters are so earnest, so intense and so beautifully written, it is more appropriate to classify them as literature - a true love song...

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About the Author:

BRENDA UELAND (1891-1985) was born in Minneapolis and grew up there. During the 1910s and 1920s she lived in Greenwich Village, working as a freelance writer and traveling with such bohemian free thinkers as Mabel Dodge, Emma Goldman, Theodore Dreiser, Willa Cather and Eugene O Neill. Returning to Minneapolis, she wrote for the Minneapolis Times and taught writing. She was the author of several books, including the best-selling If You Want to Write, her brash autobiography ME, and a collection of essays Strength to Your Sword Arm. She corresponded with, and was admired by Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair, Robert Penn Warren, and Carl Sandburg, among countless others. She was awarded the Order of St. Olaf medal by the King of Norway and set an international swimming record (for over-80-year-olds). She replaced the Ten Commandments with two of her own: No Cruelty. And no Lying... That would take care of everything, she wrote, ignorance-inducing newspapers, advertising, war, stealing, murder, vivisection, adultery. She died at home at the age of 93.

FRIDTJOF NANSEN (1861-1930) was an athlete, polar explorer, scientist, statesman and humanitarian. He was the first person to cross Greenland on skis, got closer to the North Pole than anyone before him, was asked to become King of Norway after it won its independence from Sweden (he declined), and saved an estimated 7-22 million Russians from starvation, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922. He was the author of many books, and the subject of many more, including one called Nansen and His Women (Schibsted). He was well-known for his high regard for women. According to Nansen s daughter-in-law Kari, Brenda Ueland was Nansen s last, and greatest love.

ERIC UTNE (INTRODUCTION, and Editor) is an entrepreneur, publisher and educator. In 1984 he founded Utne Reader magazine, a field guide to the emerging culture, which he edited and published for 15 years. He now writes a back-page column in every issue. Utne is a member of the executive committee of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and of the advisory boards of Ecotrust and the World Future Council. He has a B.E.D. (Environmental Design) from the University of Minnesota and serves as a Senior Fellow at the University s Center for Spirituality & Healing. Utne is the step-grandson of Brenda Ueland, who called him her grandson and said they were closer than kin. He lives in Minneapolis.

PER EGIL HEGGE (FOREWORD) is one of Norway s best-known journalists. He was an editor, columnist and cultural commentator for many years at Aftenposten, Oslo s largest newspaper. He served as its Moscow correspondent from 1969 to 1971, and its Washington, D.C. correspondent from 1977 to 1981. He is the author of several books, including biographies of Fridtjof Nansen and King Harald V of Norway. He chaired the Norwegian branch of PEN-International from 1985 to 1988. In 2003 he was decorated with the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav (Knight 1st Class).


Brenda, My Darling Posted by Merle Levin

I have just returned from teaching a writing workshop in Norway. It was there I discovered the newly published love letters of Norway s much loved Fridtjof Nansen(1861-1930) arctic explorer, author, Nobel prize winner and humanitarian to American author and journalist, Brenda Ueland, 30 years his junior. The country was abuzz at the publication of these letters so intimate and revealing of a new side of their aristocratic hero the leading newspaper Aftenposten even published his full frontal nude photos sent to his beloved Brenda Ueland an author I have long loved and admired myself. Her book If you want to write published in the 30 s, is my dog-eared bible.

Yesterday I returned to Cape Town from London. If you re bound for Cape Town via Doha on a 24 hour journey I highly recommend these letters to ease the pain of cramped seats, recycled air and inedible food. None of it mattered! Through his letters I traveled on a journey of the soul and realize more deeply how love transcends space and time, how it has the power to open new insights into this mystery of life. The poets know it, the great artists connect to this force I feel as if I too, from 30,000 feet high, had a window into this miracle.

What is this mystery of what happens when souls meet one another and recognize the power of connection? How to bottle this stuff? This is where world peace begins. This is where wars end. This is where we know oneness, compassion, loving understanding. This is where we transcend space, time, race, color, creed.

Fridtjof and Brenda only knew each other briefly and obviously consummated that brief interaction with a hot and passionate love affair. The rest of their communion was via this power of their written words to one another. There was no email, no phone connection. Each hand-written letter took weeks to arrive at the other. They patiently and carefully opened themselves up, layer by layer with courage and honesty. They agreed not to hide anything from one another, that there was nothing that could not be shared. And through their courage to face every part of themselves and share, I feel that I have become a better person.

How sad I am that Brenda s letters were destroyed. The world has lost a great gift by the burning of those letters, but the great wonder is, that his to her have survived. He ventured to the Arctic and faced huge dangers. I think though, that this exploration of the soul, was his greatest achievement. --Merle Levin

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