Kristin Lavransdatter: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition

Kristin Lavransdatter: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition

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by Sigrid Undset

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The turbulent historical masterpiece of Norway’s literary master

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,


The turbulent historical masterpiece of Norway’s literary master

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 Nikulaussøn, 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.

This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition includes an introduction by Brad Leithauser. The deluxe edition features French flaps and deckle-edged paper.

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"We consider it the best book our judges have ever selected and it has been better received by our subscribers than any other book," says the Book-of-the-Month Club.
Library Journal
Two standards of European literature join Penguin's Classics Deluxe Editions club. Candide sports an especially spiffy cover by comic artist Chris Ware and a top text. The Undset volume combines all three parts of the epic with explanatory notes. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Kristin Lavransdatter Series
Edition description:
Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
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Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Sigrid Undset (1882-1949) was born in Denmark, the eldest daughter of a Norwegian father and a Danish mother. Two years after her birth, the family moved to Oslo, where her father, a distinguished archaeologist, taught at the university. Her father's interest in the past had a tremendous influence on Undset. She was particularly entranced by the dramatic Old Norse sagas she read as a child, later declaring that her exposure to them marked "the most important turning point in my life."

Undset's first published works—the novel Mrs. Marta Oulie (1907) and a short-story collection The Happy Age (1908)—were set in contemporary times and achieved both critical and popular success. With her reputation as a writer well-established, Undset had the freedom to explore the world that had first fired her imagination, and in Gunnar's Daughter (1909) she drew upon her knowledge of Norway's history and legends, including the Icelandic Sagas, to recreate medieval life with compelling immediacy. In 1912 Undset married the painter Anders Castus Svarstad and over the next ten years faced the formidable challenge of raising three stepchildren and her own three off-spring with little financial or emotional support from her husband. Eventually, she and her children moved from Oslo to Lillehammer, and her marriage was annulled in 1924, when Undset converted to Catholicism.

Although Undset wrote more modern novels, a collection of essays on feminism, as well as numerous book reviews and newspaper articles, her fascination with the Middle Ages never ebbed, and in 1920 she published The Wreath, the first volume of her most famous work, Kristin Lavransdatter. The next two volumes quickly followed—The Wife in 1921, and The Cross in 1922. The trilogy earned Undset worldwide acclaim, and her second great medieval epic—the four-volume The Master of Hestviken (1925-1927) —confirmed her place as one of the twentieth century's greatest writers. In 1928, at the age of 46, she received the Nobel Prize for Literature, only the third woman to be so honored.

Undset went on to publish more novels—including the autobiographical The Longest Years—and several collections of essays during the 1930s. As the Germans advanced through Norway in 1940, Undset, an outspoken critic of Nazism, fled the country and eventually settled in Brooklyn, New York. She returned to her homeland in 1945, and two years later she was awarded Norway's highest honor for her "distinguished literary work and for service to her country." The years of exile, however, had taken a great toll on her, and she died of a stroke on June 10, 1949.

Brad Leithauser is the author of several novels, four volumes of poetry, and a collection of essays. He is the Emily Dickinson Lecturer in the Humanities at Mount Holyoke College.

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Kristin Lavransdatter: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
MLucero More than 1 year ago
In this new translation by Tiina Nunnally of a Nobel Prize winning Norwegian epic, Sigrid Undset's classic evocation of medieval Norway's landscapes, architecture, culture, and society has quickly become one of my favorite books ever. Reading the quiet and effortless prose that is nonetheless steeped in studious observations about characters and society, one becomes completely captivated by another culture in another time. There is a feeling as of walking in a pine grove early on a winter's morning: high, piercing, and haunting. The book explores the life of its title character, Kristin, as she grows into a young maiden in a secluded montane farming village, rebels against her parents' wishes and marries the charming yet irresponsible Erlend Nikulausson, becomes a mother to seven sons, and continuously faces the trials and tragedies of life and the consequences of pride. Exploring the harsh, dramatic, and lush climates, and a people at turns blunt and delicate, simple and intricate, Undset's Norway is filled with courage, community, meaning, and bracing charity that rings of timeless truth and beauty and relevance. It is available in this one-volume deluxe version or separately in its original three volumes, The Wreath, The Wife, and The Cross.
eulogos More than 1 year ago
If you haven't read this wonderful book, this new translation is your opportunity. For me it was a reason to read it for a third time. The older translation was written in somewhat archaic language which some found stilted, although I had no problem with it. However a more natural language translation is appropriate since the original was not written in an archaic style. The new translation also contains passages which were inexplicably edited out of the older one. This is the story of one woman's entire life in Norway in the late 1200's, beginning with her childhood on a rural farmstead and ending when she died having caught the plague from those she was nursing. There is a love story, which does not end with a marriage and "happily ever after" but goes on into the struggles many of us are familiar with, of working out a relationship between two imperfect human beings. The story speaks of a mother's love, hopes, and fears for her children as they grow up. It speaks to the experience of growing old, of realizing that there is a new younger generation coming along with its own ideas and ways. There is so much of perennial human experience here. Of course in that time Kristin and everyone in the story are Catholics, but many are no less secular in their concerns than we are today. Kristin herself struggles to make her faith apply to her life. In the end, while it is obvious that she has not found the happiness that she expected to find in her life, she has found joy in the midst of a great darkness in the world. This book is not difficult to read, but it is not a light read either. It is for serious readers and thinkers. It would make a good subject for book club discussions over several sessions. This is a book you will never forget, one whose scenes and characters become part of your interior emotional landscape. I cannot recommend it too highly .
Peggie More than 1 year ago
I stumbled upon this book by accident. What a wonderful accident it was! I couldn't put it down. This book is the life story of one woman, her loves, losses, children and friends. Though the story takes place in the 14th century the characters seem like present day people - reminding me of people I have known and in some cases loved. At times the story turns exciting, frustrating, infuriating and lovely - with smooth transitions that entice you on to the next page even when it is the middle of the night. I loved every word!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where to begin...loved the complexity of the characters, especially Kristen. I will definitely ask my daughter to read this story. The joy and suffering of a mother - timeless, as told in this story. I loved to experience life in the middle ages, where everyday life revolves around the Church and Church calendar. I loved how it dealt with faith and religion differently. It showed hypocracy of the Church without ruining one's true faith (the father is an example of this). As a young mother, it was a tough read too for me. Makes me appreciate life in 2008, but also made me long for a simpler life too, where Faith was not scorned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best novel ever. A true classic .this my favorite book . a trilogy and a masterpiece .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So happy to see this available in a new translation, and in a new format...First read it as a teenager, and have re-read it over many years. Wonderful capturing of the Middle Ages, and excellent character study of a woman who is torn between the dictates of her society, and her religious beliefs and upbringing, and the very human desire of wishing to live the way she wants...What willfulness causes when it goes against society and the basic wonder it was a Nobel Prize winner...and rightfully so. A treasure of world literature rediscovered...but never forgotten by those of us who read it before...and will read it again.
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