Odd Nansen’s Arrest and Miguel de Cervantes

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Seventy-four years ago today, at 7:30pm, Odd Nansen was arrested.   Held hostage for the ensuing forty months, he was only freed on April 28, 1945, ten days before the war ended.   Nansen was arrested on a Tuesday, not a Friday, but he was well aware of the superstition.  In his diary, commenting in 1944 that wife Kari’s birthday (November 13) fell on a Friday, he observed:

“[Your birthday] has come on a Friday this year.  Friday the thirteenth; what else could one expect?  In this landslide of disaster and misery old superstitions have their place.”

It is worth noting that Miguel de Cervantes (whose death 400 years ago we will commemorate this April 22) observed in the prologue to his masterpiece, Don Quixote, that it was “begotten in prison, where every discomfort has its place, and every sad sound makes its home.” Prior to his incarceration—for mismanagement—Cervantes had also once been a hostage of sorts, captured by the Barbary pirates in 1575 and held captive for five years awaiting his ultimate ransom.  Indeed, Ariel Dorfman recently wrote in an essay in the New York Times Book Review that these five years may well have been the defining experience of Cervantes’ life, forcing him to realize that “if we cannot heal the misfortunes that assail our bodies, we can, however, hold sway over how our soul responds to those sorrows.”

During every one of the 1,201 days Odd Nansen subsequently spent in captivity following his arrest, he undoubtedly wished for nothing more than to be with his wife and family, to be working on his architectural projects, to be free.  But the diary he created in prison is an eloquent depiction of how we too can “hold sway over how our soul responds to . . . sorrows,” and forty-three years after Nansen’s death we remain its grateful beneficiaries.

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Book Signings

  • February 22, 2019: Providence Athenaeum, Providence, RI
  • February 23, 2019: Village at Waterman Lake, Greenville, RI
  • February 24, 2019: Brightview Commons, Wakefield, RI
  • February 24, 2019: Atria Bay Spring Village, Barrington, RI
  • February 25, 2019: Atria Lincoln Place, Lincoln, RI
  • February 25, 2019: Atria Aquidneck, Portsmouth, RI
  • March 6, 2019: North Oaks, Pikesville, MD
  • March 7, 2019: Maris Grove Retirement Community, Glen Mills, PA
  • March 7, 2019: Blakehurst, Towson, MD
  • March 8, 2019: Brightview Perry Hall, Nottingham, MD
  • March 8, 2019: Roland Park Place, Baltimore, MD
  • March 8, 2019: Edenwald, Towson, MD
  • March 9, 2019: Springwell, Baltimore, MD
  • March 10, 2019: York, PA Jewish Community Center, York, PA
  • March 22, 2019: Viterbo University, LaCrosse, WI
  • March 24, 2019:  Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Milwaukee, WI
  • March 25, 2019: Grand Dominion, Mundelein, IL
  • March 25, 2019: Carrington Lincolnwood, Lincolnwood, IL
  • March 26, 2019: Brookdale Lake View, Chicago, IL
  • March 26, 2019: Brookdale Lisle, Lisle, IL
  • March 26, 2019: Brookdale Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
  • March 27, 2019: The Breakers at Edgewater Beach, Chicago, IL
  • March 27, 2019: The Admiral at the Lake, Chicago, IL
  • March 27, 2019: The Carillon Club, Naperville, IL
  • April 17, 2019: Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice, Charlotte, NC
  • April 24, 2019: Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC
  • April 29, 2019: The Watermark, Bridgeport, CT
  • April 29, 2019: Congregation B’nai Israel, Bridgeport, CT
  • May 2, 2019: Notre Dame High School, West Haven, CT
  • May 30, 2019: The Glebe, Daleville, VA
  • May 31-June 2, 2019: Georgetown University, Washington, DC
  • June 11, 2019: Osher Lifelong Learning, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
  • June 25, 2019: Nordic Center, Duluth, MN
  • June 27, 2019: Norway House, Minneapolis, MN
  • September 15, 2019: Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies, Oslo, Norway
  • October 15, 2019: American Scandinavian Society, New York, NY
  • October 17, 2019: 55-Plus Club, Princeton, NJ
  • November 1, 2019: Oshe Lifelong Learning, Furman University, Greenville, SC
  • January 21, 2020: Alpha Delta Kappa, Raleigh, NC
< 2019 >
February
SMTWHFS
     12
3456789
10111213141516
171819
  • Count Folke Bernadotte’s meets with Himmler to negotiate the release of Scandinavian prisoners
20212223
2425262728  
Legend
  Previous/Upcoming Engagements
  This day in history