chapter  3
12 Pages

Wild Nature Revisited: Negotiations of the National Self-Imagination


It is easy to agree with George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, who, in Metaphors We Live By (1980), argue that metaphors structure people’s way of thinking. The old saying “Norwegians are born with skis on their feet” indicates that Norwegians are not only good skiers but also that skiing is a natural thing to do for any Norwegian. When skiing is imagined to be an obligatory skill in Norway, it is also imagined to be a skill that unites people. Skiing makes people Norwegian. A cluster of similar metaphors connects Norwegian nationality with wildlife and outdoor activities. “A Sunday walk” is a hike in the woods or mountains, not a promenade in the park. “To spend the weekend at the cottage” might mean to spend the weekend in the mountains carrying water and fi rewood to a small house with neither electricity nor gas. These metaphors structure the way the natural world is connected with the collective Norwegian identity, as this identity was defi ned in opposition to urban civilization in the literature of the mid-nineteenth century.