All my days I have longed equally to travel the right road and to take my own errant path I am not a great fan of historical fiction, especially not if the main characters are deeply religious to the point of sacrificing themselves and their happiness in order to be forgiven for their sins their moments of passion and life, that is.So I was not expecting to like Kristin Lavransdotter at all when I started reading the hardback copy I bought for some coins in a secondhand store I wanted to read it because it is part of the Scandinavian cultural heritage, because it is written by the Nobel Laureate and outstanding storyteller Sigrid Undset, because it is good to move outside your comfort zone sometimes What I didn t expect was the sympathy I all of a sudden developed for the characters They acted according to beliefs I found ridiculous, and yet their human thoughts and feelings were so clear, so typical, so universal that I couldn t shake them off They moved in fictional Middle Ages, and yet, modern Scandinavian behaviours and customs shone through each event, and the strange and exotic experience of the harsh geography and climate affected the Medieval cast in the same way it affects busy city dwellers of today.Kristin herself, stuck between the wish to do the right thing by her father and her faith and to experience true passion, could be living in any place and any time She is a symbol for a timeless female dilemma, and her choices mirror countless women s lives Unable to resist the strong, powerful charisma of a bad guy , Erlend, she experiences both the bliss of passion and the drudgery of life shared with an irresponsible, happy go lucky man instead of stable, yet boring companionship with a man of her father s choice Driven by her fear of her god and her belief that she has to atone for the sin of unlawful love, she eventually ends her life as a nun, dying while trying to help other people during the plague, a kind of late punishment for allowing herself a moment of freedom of choice beyond the limits of conventions.What makes Kristin interesting to me is her strong will, her power to fight for what she thinks worth fighting for, her willingness to face the disappointments in life and to accept the consequences of her own decisions Within the framework of a Medieval melodrama, Sigrid Undset manages to create the portrait of a strong woman ready to cope both with her own shortcomings and with those of the men in her care.Even though Erlend is weak, there are valid reasons why Kristin felt attracted to him, and she acknowledges that facet in herself and dares to act on her feelings I like that Recommended despite myself This one should be subtitled, decent people make scads of bad decisions and then agonize over them Seriously I am surprised to have liked it as much as I did, because there is no reason this massive book should work And yet, it does precisely because of all the reasons why it shouldn t plot and pace sacrificed to character development, pages and pages of seemingly trivial detail and enough Catholicism to fill a smallish catechism Taken individually, its separate parts sound like a grueling exercise in literary masochism, but combined, there is no clearer fictional portrait of medieval life It s not going to appeal to everyone, but until someone invents time travel, this one is your best route to 14th century Norway.Not that I d recommend going there Lice and the plague are a bitch, ya know A historical epic divided in three installments The Wreath, The Wife and The Cross that unfolds the life of Kristin Lavrandsatter, a woman of noble ancestry in Medieval Norway, from birth to death Undset paints a faithful portrayal of an era marked by turbulent dynastic wars and the latent paganism ingrained in the Christian values of a very rigid society, representative of its time The three novels probe deep into the human, moral and religious conflicts that befall on the protagonist and her family, keeping the narrative pulse alive along its than a thousand pages.Undset s prose is technically irreproachable a traditional structure, archetypal of the 19thC realistic tradition, with an omniscient third person narrator that uses relatively short chapters following a linear timeline The narration focuses on the central heroine of the saga, around which orbits a constellation of secondary characters that presents a full display of the myriad tonalities of human nature depicted from the perspective of the classical struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, punishment and exoneration.Ambition and the unquenchable thirst for power the eternal dichotomy of aspiring purity and the repressed carnal desire or the growing sense of estrangement between parents and children saturates the plotline with an unshakable, almost suffocating, sense of guilt, which is the main reason for my lack of enthusiasm for this epic tome.The resigned attitude showed by Kristin whenever she is delivered a tragic blow brings digressive inner monologues that circle around God fearing arguments that, in my opinion, taint the luscious descriptions of the Scandinavian landscape and its powerful symbolism That feature alone prevented me from fully enjoying the indisputable quality of Undset s descriptive skills Also, the subtly censorious arguments against natural impulses such as sexual drive and healthy resolution seemed so old fashioned and anchored in the past that it was incredibly difficult for me to empathize with the characters plights, even if such thoughts were according to the era.In the end, I got the feeling that Undset was somehow impugning the prevailing naturalistic doctrines in the 19thC that vouched for a positive socio cultural determinism Her continuous defense of pious sanctity and repentance as means to accept God s will in a magnanimous, almost sermonizing undertone, endorses the idea of the original sin and prosecutes mankind, leaving no space for historical progress.Those who dominate the medieval hermeneutics and the biblical allegory will find countless references in Undset s art and literature Life, like the river that inexorably advances and drags away the dust of faceless generations, looms larger when it reaches the end Even the floral wreaths worn by virginal Norwegian maidens wither with the erosion of lifetimes spent in obsessive repentance and a thorny cross is all that is left of their testimony To blossom in the face of Death, like Undset s characters do, requires blind faith and that is something an incredulous dilettante like myself can t indulge in and so to all those daredevils who think like I do, I toast to life, while it lasts, and to its paradoxical absurdities, which I embrace without pretensions, hoping to reach the end of this bumpy journey with a full heart rather than fearful hope. But she couldn t help it it was her nature to love with great toil and care. When I read, I seek the marrow of things Details and description of lands I shall never see and times I shall never know are all very well, but I am a human being, and it is human beings I am concerned with It is easier for me with some books than others due to commonalities of sex and race and culture, but often than not that is a surface tension appeal, a reliance on shared references that both author and I indulge in What matters is when the author dives deep into both thought and feeling, wrestling in such a knowledgeable yet empathetic way that it matters not that they were born in the 19th century and I was not, that they were religious and I am not, that they were holistically passionate about Norway in the Middle Ages and I am not The fact that we share a gender helps, but considering how this work won the author a Nobel Prize for Literature and how beloved it is today, I d say it s than that But the most extreme and oppressive fears seized her whenever she thought of Simon the way he had picked her up and carried her off and spoken for her at home and acted as if she were his property Her father and mother had yielded to him as if she already belonged to him than to them.God only knew she didn t consider herself than a simple woman she would have preferred to avoid taking responsibility for anything but her own children and her household duties And yet she had been forced to deal with so many things that seemed to her appropriate concerns for a man to handle But Erlend had thought it quite reasonable to let them rest on her shoulders So it didn t suit him to act so overbearing and to rebuff her when she wanted to know about things that he had undertaken on his own that would affect the welfare of them all. The woman who takes a path different from what has been ordained is a popular topic in the classics, but it is a rare piece of literature that so thoroughly and humanely follows that fallen life to its end Rare is the work that brings forth a woman who, while willing and able to follow the s of the world she has been brought up in, does not accept the assumption that she will submit to them entirely Sewing, yes, marriage, yes, but also the consideration of her self as a subject with her own aesthetics and moral grounds, her own lusts and commitment to others Her faith is one which critically evaluates the differences between what she has been taught and how she has been treated, and were she a man she would have had a vaster field upon which to experiment, possess, take responsibility for what she has done and not for what has been done to her However, she is a woman, and that is an epic all in itselfAnd yet you cannot proceed with a change in the law before it has been enacted without exerting excessive force against the people and from ancient times the people have had difficulty in accepting excessive force from their kings How in fiery Hell was a man to rule his wife if he couldn t beat her because of her high birth and his own sense of honor. The person who recommended this to me called it a Norwegian Middlemarch, and now that I have finished, I say it is a true statement for all intents and purposes There are, however, some sizable differences, ones that I myself enjoyed but may not be as favorable to others Where Middlemarch spreads across a web of plots comparable in length, this work is most concerned with its titular character, dipping masterfully into the heads of surrounding others when needed but only just, embellishing the sociopolitical concerns in a fully realized world of an intellectually restricted woman Where Middlemarch dwells on several years of serious social turnovers, its sleepy Victorianisms are melodramatic hyperspeed in comparison to the Middle Ages of honor and pagans and the Black Plague Where Middlemarch plucks and bends but often than not turns towards the realistic happy ending, Kristin Lavransdatter triggers the fall, follows them down, and watches these human beings wrest their own measure of self worth from a narrative that in any other work would have ended with the finality of death Middlemarch has both depth and breadth, but it does not send its heroine through the ravages of death and time and all the social redemption they bring long after they would have done any good It does not send its heroine into a gorgeous world of unjust human beings and wrestle it with her to the very endAh, young child, you probably think there s nothing else that entices in the world save sensual pleasure and wealth and power I must tell you that these are small things that are found along the side of the road but I, I have loved the roads themselves Now she realized that her mother s heart had been deeply etched with memories of her daughter, memories of her thoughts about the child from before she was born and from all the years the child could not remember, memories of fears and hopes and dreams that children would never know had been dreamed on their behalf, before it was their own turn to fear and hope and dream in secret. There is a beauty from refusing to cut off a story at the happily ever after point, for none of us have the benefit of that There is a beauty in forgoing the finality of a tragic death and setting the character forth to persist on their own terms, seeming flaws and shamefulness paling beside the very fact that they are still alive While it is advisable that the reader seek out the latest translation of this and all its accompanying end notes, there is a story here that will ring true with any who have struggled with law and with other, even so with those have wrestled in the dead of the night with their regretful past and unknown future I will not claim that everyone will empathize with the lengthy bouts between one person and Christianity in the Middle Ages, but I can say with certainty that this is not a story that aims to convert It is a story of a human being in a part of the world during a time of great religious focus, and never is the strength of any individual in the face of death and growth and transitioning faith taken for granted But the drifting blue shadows on the hillsides, the fair weather clouds billowing up over the mountain ridges and melting into the blue summer sky, the glitter of the Laag s water beyond the trees, the white glint of sunlight on all the leaves these things she noticed as silent sounds, audible only to her inner ear, rather than as visible images With her wimple pulled forward over her brow, Kristin sat and listened to the play of light and shadow across the valley. It is a great work of humanity, this Now, whenever she took the old path home past the site of the smithy and by now it was almost overgrown, with tufts of yellow bedstraw, bluebells, and sweet peas spilling over the borders of the lush meadow it seemed almost as if she were looking at a picture of her own life the weather beaten, soot covered old hearth that would never again be lit by a fire The ground was strewn with bits of coal, but thin, short, gleaming tendrils of grass were springing up all over the abandoned site And in the cracks of the old hearth blossomed fireweed, which sows its seeds everywhere, with its exquisite, long red tassels. tutto fu bene, anche il mio maleIl romanzo che fece guadagnare il Premio Nobel alla scrittrice norvegese Sigrid Undset il racconto della vita di una donna ambientato in un Medioevo scandinavo realistico e affascinante con le sue luci ed ombre.Kristin la sua personalit , i suoi amori, il rapporto con il padre, con i figli, con la societ del tempo e il mondo umanissimo e variegato dei personaggi che la circondano contadini, nobili, guerrieri, generosi o peccatori sono resi con la forza del capolavoro nulla censurato, ma tutto viene approfondito ed esaltato in uno sguardo positivo sulla vita.Letto e riletto romanzone Brilliant and beautiful I just finished Kristin Lavransdatter and it has easily earned a place in my favorite books ever Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in Literature for Kristin Lavransdatter while still in her prime and it was well earned For those reading it for the first time, I strongly recommend the most recent translation by Tiina Nunnally The original translation into english by Charles Archer, which I tried to read unsuccessfully several years ago, is filled with unauthentic arhaic language that is not true to Sigrid Undset s original Norwegian text which was written in clear and beautiful modern prose despite its medieval context Nunnally s translation is natural and easy to read as well as authentic It is the historical epic of the passionate and headstrong Kristin Lavransdatter The trilogy, now compiled into one massive volume 1124 pages is well worth the time and the biceps gained from lugging it around I read it over several weeks and truly savored every bit The story is set in 14th century medieval Norway and follows Kristin from childhood to death, through her choice to defy her gentle and devoted father s wish that she marry the honorable and kind, but unglamorous Simon Instead, while spending a year in a convent in Oslo, she falls for and marries an impulsive young knight, Erlend Nikulausson Erlend is truly devoted in heart to Kristin, but is plagued by his own scandalous past and inability to act responsibly and Kristin has some hard consequences to deal with because of her willfulness But, to quote Brad Leithauser in his introduction to the book, her unshakable guilt in no way paralyzes her and she carries on with her life Undset s potent message is that even though we may experience pain and sorrow over our choices one cannot squander one s life in regret and bitterness, failing to recognize the blessings and happiness we have been given Kristin struggles to maintain the balance between a repentant heart and self loathing and torment In the end she comes to realize in a beautiful way that her life has been full of wonderful blessings, including her life with Erlend A passage close to the time of Kristin s death when she is looking at her wedding ring illustrates She opened her eyes and looked at the ring lying in the dark palm of the smith And her tears burst forth in torrents, for she felt as if she had never before fully understood what it signified The life to which this ring had married her, over which she had complained and grumbled, raged and rebelled And yet she had loved it so, rejoicing over it, with both the bad and the good, so that there was not a single day she would have given back to God without lament or a single sorrow she would have relinquished without regret Truly a book that has deepened my appreciation of life. In my recent review of Heather Day Gilbert s God s Daughter, I commented that her style in some ways reminds me of Undset s Perhaps that s a function of the fact that both ladies writing is shaped by a Christian world view Undset was an adult convert to Roman Catholicism , both focus their historical writing on medieval Scandinavian culture, both do a great job of getting inside their character s heads, and both created strong female protagonists Though Undset s other major work, which I read as an omnibus volume before this one, the quartet of novels collectively titled The Master of Hestviken, has a male protagonist Undset, however, set her work at a later time the 13th or, in this case, 14th centuries and covered her main characters entire lives starting in childhood, which gives her work of an epic scope Of course, in her case, we re also dealing with the body of work produced in a lifetime, not a single first novel She also concentrates on fictional rather than on actual historical figures though the latter sometimes appear briefly here.The three novels that form this trilogy are The Wreath the title is also sometimes translated The Bridal Wreath , The Wife, and The Cross The Goodreads description is reasonably accurate Human relationships play a central role in this saga, especially the marriage relationship and Kristen s marriage is often a stormy one, despite having married for love she and Erlend are two strong willed and sometimes ill assorted people, with very real human imperfections , but also parent child relations and other family and social relationships But although the Goodreads description ignores this fact , Undset is as concerned with her characters relationship with God as with their human relationships this gives the novels an added dimension of spiritual depth that was a definite plus for me Kristin is a wonderfully realized, dynamic and proactive character no docile doormat she , who s easy to care about and like even when she s doing things you d advise her against if you could Medieval Norway comes to life here as vividly as if you d journeyed there in a time machine, and the plotting held my interest from cover to cover The Cross ends in 1348 49 no spoilers here, but readers familiar with European history will know what was going on at that time Commenting on the prose style of a work you ve read only in translation is a tricky business, especially since I don t remember if the translation I read was the Nunnally one cited above or not I can say that I remember it as eminently readable, well adapted to the tone and subject matter, and with dialogue that sounded authentic but not overly archaic or stilted.Sigrid Uundset won the Nobel Prize for Literature, at a time long before the Nobel Prize selection process had degenerated into an excercise in political correctness If you read her masterworks, I believe you ll understand why, and agree that her award was profoundly deserved I ve seen Kristin Lavransdatter described as a book about a young woman who defies her family and faith to follow the passions of her heart Well, yes But while today that might be seen as a virtue, it is decidedly not portrayed as such in Kristin Lavransdatter This is not a feminist book Despite how often Sigrid Undset wrote about the immoral kind of love, she was no proponent of the burgeoning emancipation movement She is fairly unique among those who write about illicit love because she focuses less on the act than on the consequences of the act.This is a book about sin and redemption The consequences of Kristin choosing herself before God a thing called sin echo, and echo, and echo for the rest of her life, affecting not only Kristin herself but everyone she loves One might dismiss the effects of sin in the book as being simply the effects of guilt and the social burdens imposed by the time period depicted, and say that now that we have destroyed the concept of sin and of guilt we are better off But the effects are not all internal to Kristin and cannot all be dismissed as a product of guilt And what is wrong with guilt Only in rare cases does one feel excessive or harmful guilt that one should not feel In most cases, as in Kristin s case, guilt is simply the voice of one s conscience To fail to heed it is to shut down an integral part of one s self Undset understood sin She understood that it is a real thing, with real consequences She understood its nature as choosing the self over God And she understood that redemption comes, ultimately, from the cross, as evidenced by the aptly titled final portion of her book I am not at all surprised that Undset converted to Catholicism soon after writing Kristin Lavransdatter I m just astonished that she wasn t Catholic when she wrote it In Her Great Historical Epic Kristin Lavransdatter, Set In Fourteenth Century Norway, Nobel Laureate Sigrid Undset Tells The Life Story Of One Passionate And Headstrong Woman Painting A Richly Detailed Backdrop, Undset Immerses Readers In The Day To Day Life, Social Conventions, And Political And Religious Undercurrents Of The Period Now In One Volume, Tiina Nunnally S Award Winning Definitive Translation Brings This Remarkable Work To Life With Clarity And Lyrical Beauty As A Young Girl, Kristin Is Deeply Devoted To Her Father, A Kind And Courageous Man But When As A Student In A Convent School She Meets The Charming And Impetuous Erlend Nikulauss N, She Defies Her Parents In Pursuit Of Her Own Desires Her Saga Continues Through Her Marriage To Erlend, Their Tumultuous Life Together Raising Seven Sons As Erlend Seeks To Strengthen His Political Influence, And Finally Their Estrangement As The World Around Them Tumbles Into Uncertainty With Its Captivating Heroine And Emotional Potency, Kristin Lavransdatter Is The Masterwork Of Norway S Most Beloved Author, One Of The Twentieth Century S Most Prodigious And Engaged Literary Minds And, In Nunnally S Exquisite Translation, A Story That Continues To Enthrall I started getting interested in Kristin Lavransdatter this past winter I really want to visit Norway for some time, and I wanted to learn about Europe in the Middle Ages If you want to read about medieval times without getting bored, this book is a great choice I am glad I spent the summer reading this book, since it included so much history and such unique characters By the way, reading about the Middle Ages during the summer is a unique experience, and I strongly recommend it However, it is than just a historical novel about the Middle Ages The characters have really insightful feelings that make you want to understand the world Kristin Lavransdatter is about a passionate and courageous woman who is from a good, noble upbringing in medieval Norway She marries Erlend Nikulauss n and becomes a mother to seven sons, who are all fair and comely Kristin and Erlend have a tempestuous life together Kristin Lavransdatter has trouble in her relationships with her parents and her husband, but she finds comfort and conciliation in her Catholic faith I really enjoyed this book, because the characters seem very real and it is historically accurate Sigrid Undset is a very insightful person Kristin Lavransdatter won the Nobel Prize in 1928 for its accurate and vivid descriptions of the Middle Ages It is clear the author put her heart into this masterpiece, this epic historical novel Kristin Lavransdatter is a spirited heroine who is very memorable It is a story of love, emotions, marriage, motherhood, and life s mysteries It was very worthwhile.
Undset was born in Kalundborg, Denmark, but her family moved to Norway when she was two years old In 1924, she converted to Catholicism and became a lay Dominican She fled Norway in 1940 because of her opposition to Nazi Germany and the German occupation, but returned after the end of World War II in 1945.Sigrid Undset received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 Most of the praise was for h
- 1144 pages
- Kristin Lavransdatter
- Sigrid Undset
- 24 August 2019 Sigrid Undset