Thursday, 17 May 2012

Vår Frelsers gravlund, Oslo

Vår Frelsers gravlund is a cemetery in Oslo, Norway, located north of Hammersborg in Gamle Aker district. It was created in 1808 as a result of the great famine and cholera epidemic of the Napoleonic Wars. Its grounds were extended in 1911. The cemetery has been full since 1952. The cemetery is known primarily for Æreslunden, Norway's main honorary burial ground.

Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson (8 December 1832 – 26 April 1910) was a Norwegian writer and the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literaturelaureate. Bjørnson is considered as one of The Four Greats (De Fire Store) Norwegian writers; the others being Henrik Ibsen, Jonas Lie, andAlexander Kielland. Bjørnson is celebrated for his lyrics to the Norwegian National Anthem, "Ja, vi elsker dette landet"

This cemetery maybe the inspiration for the one mentioned in Ultramarine by the protagonist Dana Hilliot when he describes where his family is buried; " Instead, let me show you the grave of my little uncles and aunts, all buried so neatly in a row, all my father's little brothers and sisters, all my mother's little brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. The gods hugged my forebears to death. Come take my hand; let us read: so Harald Wiers Hilliot, fodt 29 desember 1866, dod 2 mars 1867. Brigit Eva Hilliot, fodt 16 november 1867, dod 13 desember 1867. Edvard Nikolai Hilliot, fodt 8 april 1869, dod 6 mai 1870. Mary Sarah Hilliot, fodt 22 june 1874, dod 23 june 1874; without a country." (Ultramarine Pg. 68). "Without a country" is a reference to the death of Herman Bang on a train in Utah in self imposed exile from Denmark plus the phrase also refers to Bang's novel Denied A Country. Lowry later in Ultramarine refers again  to a cemetery in Oslo;  "I grant you, there is the business of my aunts, all knocked for a row of milk bottles in the cemetery in Oslo." (Pg. 96).

Another possible candidate for the cemetery is at  Old Aker Church (Norwegian: Gamle Aker kirke) - a medieval church located in Oslo. One of Lowry's favourite painters Edvard Munch depicted the church in at least 2 paintings which Lowry may have seen on his visit to Oslo in 1931.

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