|From film directed by Liv Ullman|
The novels are a trilogy of books written by Sigrid Undset in the 1920s, Kristin Lavransdatter. I read an early translation (by Charles Archer and J.S. Scott) when I was in my twenties and living in Flint, Michigan with two small children. Reading was my escape, and I remember reading these books while the housework piled up around me. I couldn't put them down, so a few weeks ago I wondered if I would feel the same way about the books.
At first I figured I'd just download them onto my iPad from iBooks, since they would (I foolishly thought) be free as many other classics have been. No, they are EACH full price, so I got a copy from the library. They had two copies on the shelf and I'm now almost finished with the first book.
They are different, but then again, I am different. And it's a new translation! It's been almost fifty years since I last read these books. I found this information on Wikipedia:
A new and complete translation by Tiina Nunnally was released by Penguin Classics in 2005, and is considered by many critics to be the superior of the two, particularly for its clarity, reflective of Undset's "straightforward, almost plain style." For her translation of the third book, Korset (The Cross), Nunnally was awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize in 2001.Hard to say how much of the story I remembered, since they feel brand new to me. There are little pieces of the story that I still recall, but most of all I loved being wrapped in a different time and place, the 14th Century in medieval Norway. Undset won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928, mostly based on these stories, and Liv Ullman, an actress I have long admired, wrote and directed a Norwegian film in 1995 based on the novels. Also from that Wikipedia link:
Critics gave it a lukewarm reception at best, and many considered it to be more true to the present than to the medieval era in which it was set. However, as it was viewed by as much as two-thirds of the population, it became one of Norway's most domestically successful films: an important cultural event. The release of the film coincided with rising national interest that centered on Norwegian medieval cultural history, and cemented Kristin Lavransdatter and Sigrid Undset as a part of the Norwegian national identity.And now, as I re-read these novels, I am again transported into the world of Long Ago and Far Away. I'm still not sure how I feel about them, but they are a good antidote to the world outside me right now.