Mysteries (1892) is the story of Johan Nilsen Nagel, a mysterious stranger who suddenly turns up in a small Norwegian town one summer-and just as suddenly disappears. Nagel is a complete outsider, a sort of modern Christ treated in a spirit of near parody. He condemns the politics and thought of the age, brings comfort to the insulted and injured and gains the love of two women suggestive of the biblical Mary and Martha. But there is a sinister side of him: in his vest he carries a vial of Prussic acid. The novel creates a powerful sense of Nagel's stream of thought, as he increasingly withdraws into the torture chamber of his own subconscious psyche.
The main character, like the title says, is a mysterious guy. Nagel arrives in a Norwegian town with plenty of money and goodwill, and though kind of an eccentric, seems to start to fit in with the local crowd. But it's almost as if Nagel only just landed on Earth, and while he wishes to live correctly, has no idea how to do it. Published at the end of the last century, Mysteries is an existentialist novel, very strange, often very funny, often sad and largely asking the question, "Why live?"