Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath (Penguin Classics)
Sigrid Undset, Tiina Nunnally
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Kristin Lavransdatter interweaves political, social, and religious history with the daily aspects of family life to create a colorful, richly detailed tapestry of Norway during the fourteenth-century. The trilogy, however, is more than a journey into the past. Undset's own life—her familiarity with Norse sagas and folklore and with a wide range of medieval literature, her experiences as a daughter, wife, and mother, and her deep religious faith—profoundly influenced her writing. Her grasp of the connections between past and present and of human nature itself, combined with the extraordinary quality of her writing, sets her works far above the genre of "historical novels." This new translation by Tina Nunnally—the first English version since Charles Archer's translation in the 1920s—captures Undset's strengths as a stylist. Nunnally, an award-winning translator, retains the natural dialog and lyrical flow of the original Norwegian, with its echoes of Old Norse legends, while deftly avoiding the stilted language and false archaisms of Archer's translation. In addition, she restores key passages left out of that edition.
Undset's ability to present a meticulously accurate historical portrait without sacrificing the poetry and narrative drive of masterful storytelling was particularly significant in her homeland. Granted independence in 1905 after five hundred years of foreign domination, Norway was eager to reclaim its national history and culture. Kristin Lavransdatter became a touchstone for Undset's contemporaries, and continues to be widely read by Norwegians today. In the more than 75 years since it was first published, it has also become a favorite throughout the world.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
end. The surface of the courtyard was paved with flagstones, and the entire area was enclosed by a covered arcade supported by stately pillars. In the center of the square stood a stone statue of Mater Misericordiae, spreading her cloak over a group of kneeling people. A lay sister came forward and asked them to follow her to the parlatory, the abbess’s reception room. Abbess Groa Guttorms datter was a tall, stout old woman. She would have been good-looking if she hadn’t had so many stubbly
talking. Kristin was relieved; she was reluctant to be disturbed, now that she was thinking so clearly. And she was glad they had to keep their shifts on at night—Ingebjorg was so fat and sweated heavily. Kristin lay awake for a long time, but the deep current of sweetness which had borne her as she knelt in the church would not return. And yet she still felt its warmth inside her; she fervently thanked God, and she sensed a feeling of strength in her spirit as she prayed for her parents and her
spreading over the entire sky. There were small copper-red streaks in the clouds, like smoke from a fire. Bajard came toward them, gave a loud whinny, and then stood motionless, staring. A moment later the first lightning flashed, followed at once by thunder, not far away. Erlend stood up and took the reins of the horse. There was an old barn at the bottom of the meadow, and that’s where they headed. He tethered Bajard to some planks just inside the door. In the back of the barn was a mound of
He was married off much too young; and your mother, with that temperament of hers, was not the one to make it any easier for him to lead such a life. It’s true that he has many friends, but do you think that any one of them can measure up to him? His sons he was not allowed to keep; it was you daughters who were to continue the lineage after him. Will he now have to endure the day when he sees that one is without health and another is without honor?” Kristin clasped her hands to her heart. She
thought of that,” said Kristin. “You must lend us fodder and provisions for three days. That’s also the reason why we shouldn’t travel in a large group. Erlend will have to send Jon back to Husaby. In Trøndelag it’s been a better year, and it should be possible to get some supplies over the mountain before Christmas. There are some poor people south of the village that I’d like you to give some alms to, from Erlend and me, Fru Aashild.” Bjørn uttered a strangely mirthless guffaw. Fru Aashild