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Thorstein Bunde Veblen

January 4, 2016

Thorstein Veblen

For a long time I thought my maternal family’s boasts about Veblen were hollow.  I believe I know the connection now.

Thorstein was my grandfather’s half-cousin.  Grandpa was about 30 years younger, and they probably never met.  Also, Thorstein got away with a hell of a lot more mischief than grandpa ever did.

However, grandpa Carl Bonde had the advantage of a laid-back life.  That, and being retired and able to retreat to his barn several hundred feet away from grandma and the house, to speak Norwegian with his friends.

Thorstein was smart.  He went to college in Northfield at 17.  In a few years he could confuse and intimidate anyone who got in his face.  Any pedagog who did not understand Thorstein’s murky satire was sunk.  The ones who did understand mistrusted him because he was a socialist.  In the end, Thorstein couldn’t prevail against the wagging tongues of others in academia.

Worse, he was a professed agnostic despite his Norwegian and Lutheran world of Nerstrand, Minnesota.  How could he fit in?  Being godless not only didn’t win him many friends, it kept him from gaining a foothold as a sociology professor, where being Christian was required.

Read more in Wikipedia, if you are interested.

Thorstein had numerous extramarital affairs with students and faculty at a list of universities.  He had lower and lower academic ranks at lesser and lesser institutions.  He stayed with his parents at their farm east of Nerstrand for seven years.

Thomas Veblen House

Did I mention that Thorstein Veblen was a widely known economist, known for his books, especially his Theory of the Leisure Class?  No?  Well, I forgot.  The book was satire, but taken seriously as an economic treatise.  Now days, its value as an economic work is minimal.  It’s value is literary, as I said, as satire.

Thomas & Kari Veblen

Thomas and Kari Veblen were Thorstein’s parents, who immigrated from Norway ahead of Kari’s mother Berit, who remarried after Kari’s father’s death in Lillihamer, Norway.  Kari was Tosten Bonde’s half-sister.


My grandpa Carl Bonde, Sr. is the boy in the white shirt, standing in front of his parents’ stone house near Nerstrand, Minnesota.

You remember Tosten?  Tosten built the big stone Bonde house, also close to Nerstrand.


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One Comment
  1. Love to hear about family history.

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