Uncovering the shielded truth: Who is the actual Jane Austen Hero?

Is it the pompous, macho-like – yet incredibly noble and kind, Mr. Darcy

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Or is it the secretive, dauntless, muslin-expert, Henry Tilney

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Perhaps it’s the moralising lecturer, Mr. Knightley – with his unfailing gentleness and understanding for women? 

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Could it be the slightly confused – yet unquestionably affectionate Edmund Bertram? 

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Oh wait! It must be the romantic, passionate, long-distance lover – Captain Frederick Wentworth! 

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But did we really miss out on the adorably shy, quirky gentleman – Edward Ferrars – the one who’s intentions are truly good, but he is just too shy to express them at first ….? 

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Dear reader. I know it’s tempting to say the classic line: “Are you kidding me? It’s Mr. Darcy of course!” 

Or perhaps you think you already know what my choice is, since you’ve read the name of my blog? 

I’m sorry to say, but no. It’s not Mr. Knightley, and it’s not Mr. Darcy either. In fact, none of the mentioned above is a true Jane Austen hero for me. Belive it or not. We actually missed out on one crucial male character in her books; Someone really important. Someone who actually changes someone else’s life by helping them out of a devastating heartbreak. Yes, I’m talking about you – Colonel Brandon – from “Sense and Sensibility”. 

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After doing a bunch of research, asking myself the same question again and again: Who would make the best husband out of all these dashing young gentleman – I ended up in a place I never thought I’d be – Is it possible that Colonel Brandon is the most underrated Jane Austen character of all time?

 Ok. Let’s dig deep into the development of this man. Step by step. (I’m sure I will succeed in persuading you!)

  1. Meets Marianne. Falls head over heals immediately. 
  2. Tries to befriend her in the most gentlemanly way possible. 
  3. Appears as rather dull and wearisome in the beginning, making Marianne completely disinterested (judging by her blossoming youth and her wish to walk on the wild-side for a little bit before settling – this doesn’t come off as too surprising for either Colonel or the reader. After all, the age-gap isn’t precisely small).
  4. Colonel decides to take a step back when it comes to courting her – however (attraction set aside) he continues appreciating Marianne’s music and interest for poetry. 
  5. Marianne is swept off her feet by a young, extrovert bachelor called Willoughby. He is everything Colonel is not. Charming, flirtatious and good with the ladies. While Marianne and her new man engage in a small romance – no one is able to foresee Willoughby’s cruel intentions – EXCPEPT FOR Colonel. Since Colonel’s past has Willoughby in it – he knows a little something more about him than anyone else. STILL he respects Marianne’s choice, because he loves her and he wants her to be happy. Uhmm – HELLO? MAJOR GENTLEMAN ALLERT or what?
  6. As expected – Willoughby leaves Marianne to marry a woman with better prospects.
  7. Marianne falls into a depression.
  8. Marianne falls dangerously ill. 
  9. When Colonel hears of her poor condition, he is soon to be by her side. 
  10. When Marianne is close to recovery, he keeps her company everyday; reading poetry out loud, making sure she stays outside to get some sun … just … HOW CAN A MAN BE THIS PERFECT? 
  11. Oh and last but not least – Marianne understands how wrong she’s been and ends up marrying the one and only Jane Austen hero, Colonel Brandon. And of course, they live happily ever after, because how can you not be happy with a man who loves you unconditionally, helps your family out whenever it’s needed and takes care of you whenever you’re sick? 

 

So – do you see my point now? 

Colonel stayed with Marianne through thick and thin, in sickness and in health – even before they got married and promised each other exactly these things! If you ask me, he’s the safest choice when it comes to matrimony. Therefor, a TRUE Jane Austen hero. 

Do you agree with my choice, or did you think I would have someone else in mind? 

Either way, I would like to hear your opinion on the matter! Comment down below or give me a message, and I’ll keep it up with more of these articles:) 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

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Paintings that have inspired my writing

A book. A friend’s story of a friend. Your mother’s childhood. Your father’s employee’s childhood. A piece of music. A theatre play. A conversation happening two tables behind you at a caffe-shop. Two children playing in the park. A mother kissing her infant child. Writers can get inspired by anything, anywhere, at any time. And as much as all these things have captured my interest for another side-story in a book – narrative paintings have also done a remarkable job for me. 

My wish is to welcome you, writers, to another world of great inspirations, namely figurative painting.

So I hope you’ll enjoy my little list of paintings that have guided me throughout a very fun (although hopeless at times) writing-process! 

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 1. Thomas Wilmer Dewing – “La Pêche” 

This one inspired me to write about a place in one of my character’s imagination; a utopia, where nymph-looking women run freely around, sings, dances and creates beauty wherever they go. 

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2. John William Waterhouse – “The Decameron” 

This painting made me want to include a scene; explaining a very charming and seductive (but deceiving) character. 

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 3. John William Waterhouse – “Lamia and the Soldier” 

“Lamia and the Soldier” is a perfect illustration of every girl’s fantasy when growing up. Meeting a handsome soldier in the middle of a wild forest is just about everything a 13-year old little girl wishes to happen to her – so I took the liberty to use this image to describe an innocent fantasy of a young character. 

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 4. Odd Nerdrum – “Embrace” 

This one is also a fantasy, but a little bit more dramatic, not so sweet. Therefor, closer to reality. It’s a timeless motif of two lovers, either meeting each other after a long time apart – or holding on to each other, making sure the other one doesn’t slip away. Either way, it’s perfectly usable in literature. 

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5. Odd Nerdrum – “Memorosa” 

One can make many symbols out of this. For example; the big men on the left with the weapons are the government, in power over the individual (the individual being the mother of course.) Personally, I have always been drawn to death in literature. Especially the death of a mother. So I look at this motif quite literary: A mother is being executed right in front of the innocent eyes of a child. Now, the child has to survive on it’s own in a harsh, cruel world, full of big men with weapons.  

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 6. Odd Nerdrum – “Refugees at the Ocean”

When I was little, I saw this painting in one of my father’s books. Later that night, I had the most terrible nightmare. I dreamt that this ship, full of refugees, came and took me as their child-prisoner. During my imprisonment, I was beaten, tortured and treated very badly by all of them. All I wanted was to go back to my family, but I couldn’t – because they had already killed them. You can say this painting had a huge impact on me for many years. Of course, I ignored looking at it again for a very long time – until one day, when I was writing on my story.  I ended up writing about this character who had the exact same dream, although this time, it had a more symbolic meaning behind it. 

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 7. Rembrandt – “Jacob Blessing the Sons of Joseph” 

I first saw this painting in a museum, together with my parents. For some reason, I thought the old man (Jacob) was dying – and so I instantly started envisioning my own father lying on his deathbed, and us, saying farewell to him. As you can imagine, I got really sad, because I made up this whole story in my head. Obviously, I have used it in my writing later. 

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8. Rembrandt – “Philosopher in Meditation” 

When I saw this, I felt so inspired. Not because of the meditating philosopher, but because of the way this house and it’s furnitures are built. The stairs curling up towards the ceiling, the little door behind the old man. It looks a little bit like the house of a hobbit. And so I sat down and began to describe an old man’s house. Detailed and thorough. I wanted it to sound exactly like what the viewer sees in this painting. 

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 9. Raúl Campos – “Mujer con Pájaro” 

There is a chapter in my story which is all about this young girl, trying to survive on her own, without any money or any caretakers. So she goes out to hunt for something to eat, and comes home with a dead bird in her hands, looking more dramatic than anyone, debating in her mind wether or not she just did the right thing. Obviously, this painting inspired this scene.

 

Be sure to give me a message if any of you guys have felt inspiration flowing by any figurative, narrative paintings. If not – what inspires you the most? Should painting, music and literature always go together in the same category? Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments below! 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

 

 

 

A Paradise of shared solitude

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Don’t we all wish it? Deep inside … 

Build houses, plant grass, create a garden, set up a school … Construct your own policy, your own rules, schedules and divided tasks. In the end, you will have made your own state. 

The concept of an alternative society; A paradise of shared solitude has occupied my mind immensely these days. And can you blame me? Watching the outer world slowly going to ashes, with all the identity-politics, terror-attacks and failing criminal court cases convicting innocent people on a daily basis – it is only natural for any human being to choose to take a step back from the society. 

After all – people do not come to this earth just to acknowledge and take pleasure in what already exists. They come so that they can bring in new things, new inventions, communities and countries. As Anne of Green Gables says in one of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books:

“I went looking for my dreams outside of myself and discovered, it’s not what the world holds for you, it’s what you bring to it.”

Why settle for what already is, when you can recreate something magnificent, that most likely has existed before you? 

A Russian science-fiction author once said: 

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I dont’ agree with Yevegenzy Zamyatin on this one. Happiness is freedom. Living in our individual society (also called “The Nerdrum School”) is isolating, but at the same time, so liberating: 

You can talk about whatever you want and expect to get an open-minded, non-aggressive  response back.

You can do whatever you want and commit each day, every hour, every minute to this specific craft. 

There isn’t just one religion, one political view or one culture here. There are several of them, and each day, you’ll learn something new and thought-provoking. 

Everyone here has an historical perspective on things; meaning, they will always look back and compare past incidents with present ones. With this mindset, the world becomes bigger, options wider, and you see everything with new eyes. 

Now, I’m not just talking about the greatness of the Nerdrum School in this article. I am talking about the greatness of a self-made society – which is a place made by using memory. Not the memory of the past, but the memory of a lifetime that you’ve never really experienced before. A word for this feeling is hiraeth – which means, a longing for a home you can’t return to, or one that was never yours. 

I think my father built this alternative world, because he had an inner longing for a place that looks exactly like the farm we have now. And it has turned out to be, not only a paradise for him, but a paradise for everyone else who thinks like him. This is what I mean by a shared solitude. It’s a place that will attract the right kind of people; The lonely ones, those who can never feel a sense of belonging in the outer world.

So no. Going out into the society will not give you freedom. Especially not, if you’re a  freethinker, like us. However, living in your own society will. And it’s not so hard. All you have to do is get some people onboard with your plan, and then start from there. It has worked in the past. It can work now. 

Our farm is a living proof of that. 

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Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

 

The book that made me want to become a writer

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It all started around 12pm, on a Saturday, the 24th of December, 2011. 

My twelve-year old self was running around our (then) house in Paris, wearing an oversized, puff-sleved, black dress of linen – trying to smile and make everyone around me happy, as a failed attempt to bring back the lost joy in our faces. 

I acted like I was content that day, but actually, I had a major headache and my mind was playing around with a toxic thought; the notion that we would stay in France forever, and never come back to our real home. And what would happen to our dear father? Was our lives built up to a coming catastrophe? 

It was in the middle of all the trials, and we were spending our Christmas away from Norway, for the very first time. 

As we were unwrapping presents, I realised that all of our faces were covered with masks. Fake smiles and corny laughter. Encouraging words that didn’t really mean anything. All of us were thinking about one thing and one thing only; our beloved father, who would soon, probably, most likely be taken away from us. 

But there wasn’t anything left for us to do, than to put on that mask. Time had run before us. The wind was changing. A new year was approaching. Presumably it was the year in which our lives would change forever.  

So I continued smiling. I laughed. I joked around. I comforted myself with the fact that we were together in our common fear. See, I was not the only one. Helpless like a twelve year old. That was the state of mind that we were all in that day. And yet, small sensations never felt so great. The touch of my parents hand on my head, the walk around our house and a garden so big you could get lost among the trees and the bushes. I’d listen carefully to every little word my father told me, because I knew that today, tomorrow, or the day after could be the last time I heard him speak for a very long time.

And before I knew it – it was lying on my lap, wrapped in brown paper, covered with a red ribbon. The book that would change my life forever. The book that seemed doll and boring at first glance, but would take my breath away in a couple of months later. The present was from my mother and the cover read: “Eva Luna” by Isabel Allende. 

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“I read it when I was about your age.” my mother said. “Now it’s your turn.” 

I eyeballed the cover for a long time, then flipped it to the other side and read the plot-summary: 

Eva Luna is the story of the main character, Eva Luna and the people and events in her life that shape her. Born to a servant in a South American country, Eva lives a varied life, sometimes exciting, sometimes, frightening, however she never lets adversity keep her down. Eva strives to persevere, and in the end, finds the happiness that eludes so many of her acquaintances through the years.

After I had finished reading it out loud for my family, I placed the book gently on the table and thought to myself: I haven’t read in so long. I’ll probably never read this one. How can one read anyway, when there are so many things that are completely uncontrollable in ones life?

Well, it turned out I was wrong. Two months later, I picked it up and started reading the first page. I never put it down again.

All of a sudden, I was able to let go of the painful presence. I could take part in someone else’s life now. I could engage in someone else’s sorrows, heartbreaks, family-problems and poverty. The world seemed bigger with all these new, exciting characters in my life. Crying didn’t seem so pathetic anymore, because the next time I teared up, I shared the moment with her; Eva Luna. A character in a book had become my dearest friend, and I was determent to keep her. 

The day I finished reading the book, I couldn’t wait to write my own. A million different ideas were boiling in my head. Characters were forming everyday. I couldn’t wait another second. I had to write it all down. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is – if you read something truly mind-blowing, yet at the same time, there is an inner voice in your head saying: I could do the same! – then listen to this voice! Go ahead and do it. BUT it is hard. I can guarantee you that. You’ll start writing a draft of a story. You’ll think it’s amazing and you’ll consider it a finished project. Then, a couple of weeks later when you return to it – your jaw will drop over how bad it is. TRUST ME. It happens to everyone. Remember, every professional was once an amateur. The only thing you need to do is to just sit down and do it. 

First, organise everything. Then you can go with the flow.

Create a plot.

Invent characters that will fit into this plot.

Make your characters come alive. 

Include a hero and a villain. 

Include power-players and mentors. 

Choose a plot-structure. Don’t be experimental about this. YOU NEED A PLOT STRUCTURE if you want anyone to want to read it. 

The hero should have a character-developement.

There should be a question asked in the beginning, and an answer for this question at the very end. ALWAYS. 

And now all you have to do is write. It’s that simple. Yet at the same time, that hard. 

“Eva Luna” may not be the book that inspired you/will inspire you to start. But I hope this article will. 

I discovered my writing at the most unexpected time and I hope you will too. Remember, one can always escape the horridness of ones reality by diving into someone else’s. Either a character in a book, or ones own. 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

Let’s talk about love

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Should love be an important theme in all books?

What is love anyways? 

Love is a broad concept. For you, it can mean one thing. For the person next door, it can mean something else.

For a teenager, it’s everything. For a middle-aged man/woman, it’s history – and for my brother it’s a scene in a movie. 

Woody Allen has a famous quote from one of his romantic comedies; “Vicki Christina Barcelona” which goes: 

Only unfulfilled love can be romantic. 

Is it true for everyone? Or is it only true for young lovers? 

The big question is: If love is experienced differently all the time, depending on the individual, then how does one write love-scenes that can relate to everyone? 

Personally, I used to struggle with writing romantic scenes in my books a few years back. It wasn’t because I hadn’t experienced the feeling before. Oh no. It was because my feelings were downright incomprehensible for anyone to understand. Every time I fell in love with someone special, I grabbed that piece of paper and wrote down what (in my head that day) seemed like the most passionate prose that anyone had ever written before – only to discover the next morning, how utterly obscure and irrational my thoughts were:

I had invented words that could not be found anywhere in the English vocabulary. 

I had contradicted myself again and again. 

I even scolded myself for feeling this way, because (most probably) I would never see this person again. 

So I started studying different ways of describing love from books that I really liked at the time. I ended up finding a few good ones, such as …

 

A Room With a View by E.M Forster. 

George had turned at the sound of her arrival. For a moment he contemplated her, as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her (6.39).

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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only. (Cosette and Marius) 

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronthe 

Most true is it that ‘beauty is in the eye of the gazer.’ My master’s colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth, — all energy, decision, will, — were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me; they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered me, — that took my feelings from my own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.

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All of these excerpts have one thing in common; they are very direct and straight-forward. For example; “He stepped quickly forward and kissed her.” from “A Room with a View” or; “He made me love him without looking at me” from “Jane Eyre”. 

Read the lines out loud for yourself a couple of times. Do you notice how they’re  nowhere near ambiguous or decorated. On the contrary. They are very clear and precise. 

Which love-story has made YOUR heart skip a beat? 

Most likely, it was one that was very direct in speech. I have found that only then – the reader can truly imagine themselves in that scene. 

But what is love? 

The Oxford Dictionary says that love is an intense feeling of deep affection. 

What is affection? 

Affection is the bond between a parent and his/her child. It is the embrace of an angel descending upon you in the autumn of life. Affection is sweet and simple. It does not belong to aliens. 

– Myndin Spildo 

So how does this information help us in any way? 

Why is it so important to reflect upon that which creates us? Namely, love … 

Throughout my research of great love-scenes, I discovered something which has helped me and my creative writing a great deal; When creating a story, one must not just learn to write romantic scenes. One must learn to write romantically all the time. Authors constantly romanticise the sorrows of life, the depression that arises with the confrontation of death – and the rejections that lead us to our particular love. So as an author – I tell you – never suppress these coming phases of life. Don’t save these emotions for love-scenes. Use them everywhere. 

My sister once reminded me of the sexuality that surrounds us – that one early spring morning, she could hear an orchestra of birds sending mate- signals to each other. It tells me that the ruthlessness of our cunning nature, in every flower, every tree and every bush is in fact the very essence of romantic love; therefor just as important. 

Every sentence must be sensual and fertile. In other words; sexuality must exist behind each line. Writing a story is pressing the juice out of a subject. You leave all the uneciasarry things behind – and you write, with deep voluptuousness. 

So yes. Love is an important theme for every craft. And I came to this realisation because I read the books mentioned above. E.M Forster possesses love in each line from his book; “A Room with a View.” So does Victor Hugo in “Les Miserables” and Charlotte Bronthe in “Jane Eyre”. Because tragedies, as well as love-scenes, are equally loveable; They are both sensations that do not change with time.IMG_5775.jpg

Love is timeless, therefor it can be (should be) used in everything. 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum

(ps: what do YOU think about love, in terms of writing?) 

Escaping reality with books – an interview with Ana Maria de Macêdo

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Do teenagers have a shorter attention-span today, than what they used to have? Is the world really developing with all this new technology, or are people actually getting dumber? This time, I am interviewing a young bookworm and a good friend; Ana Maria de Macêdo, asking her about our highly (damaging?) technological development, in comparison with the importance of reading. 

Why is reading important to you? 

A: For me, its a way of escaping reality by connecting with someone else’s story. I think you connect with a book more when you can see a part of yourself in a character, It doesn’t have to be the main character, it can be a minor one. If the plot is somewhat relatable to your own real-life situation, it can also help you get through whatever it is that you’re going through at the moment. 

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Do you think that smartphones have done something to peoples attention-span when it comes to reading?

A: Yes. Now, we are unable to focus on one thing for a long period of time. Because these days, nothing lasts more than ten seconds- for example, advertisements on Social Media. Everything that you digest online is shown very quickly, and I think that has affected our ability to focus. Because when you read a book, it doesn’t keep changing as much. It doesn’t tell you something instantly. Instead, you need to read on and figure it out for yourself; ergo, your brain constantly gets challenged. Books are not for lazy people. That’s a fact. 

What is your advice for young people who want to be able to read more?

A: Just put your phone on silent-mode, place it in the other end of your room, pick up a book and start reading. It’s that simple. 

What is the most impressionable book you’ve ever read? 

A: It’s a book called “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart. It’s not my favourite, but it’s at least in my top ten. The story has a slow development, but the characters are very interesting, and the plot involves around one secret – which is also the plot-twist in the end. It really made me think for days afterwords, because it changed my perspective completely. I would for sure recommend it to people who don’t mind a slow beginning. I think you have to have a lot of patience for it, but it’s definitely wort it. But I gotta say, my all-time favourite book is “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”. The entire book is written in letters, and the character development of the protagonist is so innocent and endearing. I think he is so pure – especially when he falls in love. Also, theres a plot-twist here. I guess I’m a sucker for plot-twists. I just love them. 

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What made you grow fond of reading? 

A: When growing up, my parents always had a book in their hands. And when I was little, our book-shelfs seemed gigantic. It felt like I was surrounded by tall towers of stories, because it went all the way from the floor to the ceiling. So it felt like a waste not to explore them. The funny thing is that it was perfectly organised for my brother and I. Because the bottom shelf (the one that we were able to reach at the time) was filled with children books – and by each shelf, the more advanced the language in the books became. So as we grew up, we read more and more challenging books. 

What book are you reading at the moment? 

A: I just started reading “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins. I can’t say much about it now, but it seems very intriguing. 

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Ana Maria de Macêdo is a seventeen year old, Brazilian IB-student, currently studying in Sweden. In the future, she would like to work as a therapist for troubled children. 

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Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum (ps, please tell me if you like these interviews, and/or of I should do more of them!) 

 

Who would you rather?

“Who would you rather …” can be a fun game. However, for nerds like my sister and I – playing this game by only including great writers/painters/musicians/actors/philosophers from the past is all the more fun. 

Why don’t you join us? 

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Who would you rather …

 

Go shopping with 

 

Myndin – Merylin Monroe + Oscar Wilde 

Aftur –  Daphne du Maurier + Ingrid Bergman 

 

Sit next to during a plain-crash  

 

Myndin – Niccolò Machiavelli + Stefan Zweig 

Aftur – Jean-Jacques Rousseau + Oscar Wilde 

 

With you on your deathbed 

 

Myndin – Oscar Wilde + Ayn Rand 

Aftur – Astrid Lindgren + Johan Wolgang von Goethe 

 

Have children with (only one)

 

Myndin – Axel von Fersen

Aftur – Edvard Munch 

 

Have as a sibling 

 

Myndin – Henryk Górecki + Goerge Sand 

Aftur – Jane Austen + Edvard Grieg 

 

Go to jail with 

 

Myndin – Alexandre Dumas + Marlon Brando 

Aftur – Charles Dickens + C.S Lewis 

 

 Have as a therapist? (only one)

 

Myndin – Mikhail Bulgakov 

Aftur – Voltaire

 

Rob a bank with? (only one)

 

Myndin – Niccolò Machiavelli

Aftur – Niccolò Machiavelli

 

 

Have a picnic with on a hot summer-day in the English country side? 

 

Myndin – Pjotr Tsjajkovskij + Voltaire 

Aftur – Giacomo Casanova + Johan Wolfgang von Goethe  

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Alright, those were the questions! I truly advice you to do this with a friend over dinner at a restaurant (like my sister and I) or over drinks at a party/bar/gathering with your mates. It’s so much fun and you’ll have a good laugh! 

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum