The Fire Eater

Bjørnstad, Ketil: Flammeslukeren

Full title: The Fire Eater. The Life Story of Ole Bull

In The Fire Eater Ketil Bjørnstad tells the story of Ole Bull’s life. Ole Bull (1810-1880) was one of the greatest violinists of the 18th century, worshipped all over Europe; and not least in the USA. In this book, Bjørnstad reveals darker sides of Ole Bull than what has been known before, based upon unknown letters and other sources. While Ole Bull was a rising star, his marriage to the young French-Spanish Félicie Villeminot turned into a tragedy. Their firstborn died a little more than one year old, and Félicie never felt that the relationship between her and her husband was satisfactory. During the last years of her life she was often depressed and hospitalised, while her husband was celebrated in concert halls.

With a multitude of narrators Bjørnstad discussed the deep controversies in Ole Bull’s personality, and his dramatic lifetime which probably inspired Henrik Ibsen to write Peer Gynt. The Fire Eater describes the adventurous life of Ole Bull against a background of grief, sorrow and self-destruction.

First published: 2005, Aschehoug Fiction

Ketil Bjørnstad: Biography and bibliography

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