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

by Sigrid Undset

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934179,287 (4.03)69
Member:mucker28
Title:The Bridal Wreath: Kristin Lavransdatter, Vol.1
Authors:Sigrid Undset
Info:Vintage (1987), Edition: 1st Vintage Books, Paperback, 288 pages
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Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset (1920)

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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 |
It took me a while to warm to this book. It is clearly influenced by the Norse sagas, and at the start you are subjected to details of the characters' lineages and details of the historical setting. Whilst the style continues, the subject matter moves to the personal, to follow Kristin through her teenage years and eventual wedding after a battle of wills with her father.

Here it is lifted above a saga clone by the issues faced by Kristin, and the lack of simple answers: her religion and the hypocrisy of some of its leaders; the social expectations upon her as a woman, and of the wealthy class; her sexual feelings. Issues that resonate from the middle ages, through to the 1920s when this was written, and through to today. Despite this interest in theme, it is hard to escape the fact that the book feels rather flat -- it is a statement of facts, and we never really engage with the characters' emotions.

I'm glad to have learned more about this Important milestone in Norwegian literature, but am unsure whether I want to spend the time on the next two volumes. ( )
  rrmmff2000 | Sep 17, 2013 |
I didn't enjoy this book as much as the next two. In this book, Kristin is not that likeable as a heroine; her decisions and behavior are frustrating to observe. But it is worth hanging in there because the rest of the story is very good. ( )
  theonetruesteph | Mar 30, 2013 |
1.5 stars

I was bored out of my mind and I skipped a lot. ( )
  Elysianfield | Mar 30, 2013 |
I really do try to be stingy with five star ratings--this came close. Sigrid Undset was one of the first women writers to win the Nobel Prize for literature--and the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy following the life of a 14th century woman more than any work is where she made her reputation. The Wreath, the first novel of the trilogy, opens in 1306 Norway when Kristin's little more than a toddler and continues through to her young womanhood--so this is her coming of age story.

For me the key measure of a work of historical fiction is how well does it inhabit its age. Its characters should be more than contemporary people in period dress-up, and very few historical works I've ever read puts you into the mindset and immerses you into the surroundings of another age better than the The Wreath. It follows Kristin's perspective closely, and I can't imagine plucking her from her setting into a time centuries removed. Yet though she inhabits what is for us an alien world where the Catholic faith was central, she feels very relatable and real. Which is not to say I didn't want to throttle her at times. It's amazing to me because from a modern view I suppose I should feel more sympathetic to how she acts in the name of love, but Undset makes you fully feel how foolish and hurtful is Kristin's behavior so much of the time; this is a willful young woman very much ruled by her passions. For a book published in 1920 it's surprisingly sensual and frankly sexual without ever being crude.

I often cared more for the secondary characters to be honest. Especially Kristin's parents and such characters as her childhood friend Arne and Brother Edvin. I loved Aashild--a noblewoman wrapped in scandal and rumored to be a witch. I loved Simon Darre too, less flashy a character than Kristin's love Erlend, but to me much more endearing. (Truth to tell, I despised Erlend. Which rather keeps this from being a romance--strictly speaking it could be said to fall into that category in plot--but not in spirit. You feel like you're watching a trainwreck.) In fact, I think if anything deprives this of its fifth star it is that I cared much more about those secondary characters than Kristin--who in comparison seems rather shallow. But she's very young in The Wreath, and that might change in the next two books of the trilogy dealing with the mature woman.

This read extraordinarily fast--I read its 300 pages in one sitting. It started out rather slow--it was hard to get used to those Norwegian names at first, but I became more engrossed as I read and in the end it read almost too fast, with no brakes in the smooth prose to force me to savor the narrative. A page-turner in other worlds, that you perhaps speed through too quickly the first time to fully appreciate. I can tell you though that after reading The Wreath I'll certainly be continuing on someday to The Wife and The Cross. I read the Nunally translation which is very readable--I've heard the same can't be said for other translations so be aware of the issue in choosing an edition. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Nov 21, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:29 -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)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143039164, 0141180412

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