James Wood at The New Yorker:
This shattering, sometimes unbearably powerful novel, completed in 1904, was written by Henrik Pontoppidan, who won the Nobel Prize in 1917. It is considered one of the greatest Danish novels; the filmmaker Bille August turned the story into a nearly three-hour movie called, in English, “A Fortunate Man” (2019). The novel was praised by Thomas Mann and Ernst Bloch, and is effectively at the center of Georg Lukács’s classic study “The Theory of the Novel” (1920). In Danish, it is called “Lykke-Per”; in German, it was given the title of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale “Hans im Glück.” And in English? In English, it didn’t exist, having gone untranslated for more than a century, until the scholar Naomi Lebowitz administered the translator’s equivalent of a magic kiss and roused it from shameful oblivion. Published nine years ago in academic format, “Lucky Per” has finally appeared in Everyman’s Library, in Lebowitz’s fluent and lucid version, with an excellent introduction by the novelist and critic Garth Risk Hallberg. Our luck has caught up with everyone else’s.