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The Bridal Wreath: Kristin Lavransdatter,…

The Bridal Wreath: Kristin Lavransdatter, Vol.1 (original 1920; edition 1987)

by Sigrid Undset

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1,008218,471 (4.03)76
Title:The Bridal Wreath: Kristin Lavransdatter, Vol.1
Authors:Sigrid Undset
Info:Vintage (1987), Edition: 1st Vintage Books, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset (1920)

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
It's obvious from the start that Undset was a very competent historical novelist in the Walter Scott tradition, thoroughly familiar with the primary sources for the period she was writing about, and able to put herself very convincingly into the heads of medieval Norwegians and show us what the world might have looked like through their eyes. There's little intrusive scene-setting and explanation — sometimes almost too little — the narrator never steps outside the frame to relate her story to modern times. But it's hard to see in the early chapters where the added value is going to be: it could almost be the chapter on "medieval farming" from an early 20th century schoolbook. Even when Kristin gets into her teens, it looks for a long time as though this is just going to be another nice girl/bad boy romance. You have to get a long way into the book before it becomes clear that Undset must have read some Ibsen as well as all those medieval texts in her youth, and that she has set up rather a sophisticated and modern psychological study of the main characters. Very subtle and clever, even if it does turn out that she's just as much of a crusty old Tory underneath as Sir Walter was...

The Nunnally translation is definitely a lot better than the couple of chapters I read in the Archer/Scott translation. It comes across as very low-key and unobtrusive, with simple, direct syntax. Archaic words seem to be confined to the places where they are essential to convey a precise meaning (the only one I found intrusively quaint was "maiden", but given the plot it might have been hard to find a less dated alternative there). Nunnally's minimal and unpedantic notes and her introduction with a short biographical sketch of the author are also quite helpful. ( )
  thorold | Aug 24, 2015 |
I'm glad to see that there's another translation of this book. The tortured syntax of this version can make you think that this was written by Yoda. Years ago, before I had forgotten my Norwegian, I read this in the original. It was a tough go with many, necessarily, archaic words that weren't in my Norwegian/English dictionary. But I remember it as being well written. The trouble with this translation, and the translator isn't even listed on the title page, is that it seems to be straight word for word. "Tenke du ikke", perfectly normal expression in Norwegian becomes "Think you not" no ways normal in English, even if you're going for a Medieval feel. It really becomes a problem in some of the longer passages where you have to stop and untangle the sentences to figure what the character is saying. Hopefully someone gave the anonymous translator some notes before heading into the next volumes.

At this point in the story, it's good but I'm not sure it's Nobel prize material. It seems historically accurate and does well reflect the Norwegian character with it's angst, concern with personal responsibility and love of the natural world. I never got through volume 3 when I was reading it in Norwegian, so I'll have get through the next 2 books. One does have to know how the story ends. No spoilers please, but I bet she dies. ( )
1 vote harryo19 | Jul 26, 2014 |
The very end, and Kristin's increasing doubts, improved the book overall-- but generally, it just felt like another historical romance. ( )
  KatrinkaV | Jun 23, 2014 |
The Wreath is the first volume in the Noble Prize laureate Sigrid Undset's epic Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy and the first volume alone is proof of why she won in 1928.

The first volume tells the story of Kristin Lavransdatter, beginning with her childhood and through to her romance with Erlend Nikulaussøn, an impetuous and charming man. This first novel is a coming-of-age for the heroine; Undset though is able to not only make us sympathise with Kristin but also show us how foolhardy she is in breaking her betrothal so rashly.

Set in mediaeval Norway, Undset re-creates in great detail the daily life of the period, fully immersing the reader in the political, social, and religious customs of the time. Both the central character of Kristin and the others who inhabit this world are excellently realised and through Undset's prose all become relatable and real.

This is an excellent example of historical fiction and reflects Undset's deep knowledge of mediaeval Norway and the Roman Catholic faith so central to both the characters' lives and eventually Undset's own (after her conversion in 1924 - though she was certainly influenced by it even beforehand).

The translation by Tiina Nunnally is very readable and helps bring Undset's prose to life - a vast improvement on the stilted and archaic translations by Charles Archer. In her translation, Nunnally is able to fully capture this world that is so different to ours and yet often so similar. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
Considering the reviews I'd read and how much I often enjoy historical epic, I did not get nearly as invested in this story as I had hoped. I think it could have had a lot to do with the translation; if I decide to read the remainder of the trilogy, I'll try to get my hands on the Penguin edition translated by Nunnally. Even though I was not greatly enamored of Kristin's and Erlend's characters, it was interesting to read a story set in medieval Norway. ( )
  LudieGrace | Dec 4, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sigrid Undsetprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Archer, CharlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott, J. S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When the lands and goods of Ivar Gjesling the younger, of Sundbu, were divided after his death in 1306, his lands in Sil of Gudbrandsdal fell to his daughter Ragnfrid and her husband Lavrans Bjorgulfson.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141180412, Paperback)

In Kristin Lavransdatter (1920-1922), Sigrid Undset 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:31 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Originally published in Norwegian in 1920 and set in fourteenth-century Norway, The Wreath chronicles the courtship of a headstrong and passionate young woman and a dangerously charming and impetuous man. Undset re-creates the historical backdrop in vivid detail, immersing readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political undercurrents of the period. Her prose combines the sounds and style of Nordic ballads, European courtly poetry, and religious literature. But the story Undset tells is a modern one; it mirrors post-World War I political and religious anxieties, and introduces a heroine who has long captivated contemporary readers. Defying her parents and stubbornly pursuing her own happiness, Kristin emerges as a woman who not only loves with power and passion but intrepidly confronts her sexuality.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143039164, 0141180412

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