Posted by: Catholic of Thule | August 21, 2010

Brief Sigrid Undset recommendation!

A few days ago, I finished the ‘double book’, ‘duology’, ‘trilogy minus one book’, or whatever you’d call that kind of thing, called ‘Gymnadenia’/’The Wild Orchid’ and ‘Den brennende busk’/’The Burning Bush’.

It is, to my knowledge, Sigrid Undset’s only explicit conversion novel. All I can say is: wow!  It’s one of those books that you both long to finish in order to see how everything turns out and simultaneously wish would go on so that it wouldn’t finish. Of course, for Sigrid Undset, this is not an unusual feat. The book’s main characters has all of the complexity one comes to expect of her characters.

I also love Sigrid Undset’s language, which is a kind of Norwegian you couldn’t really get away with imitating today without seeming contrived. It is part and parcel of the experience for me. Having never read a translation of her work, I can’t say how this is reflected in the English translations. I know there are people out there who learn Norwegian simply in order to be able to read Sigrid Undset in the original language!

Anyhow, I would highly recommend the above mentioned books.



  1. I must shamefacedly admit that I have never read anything by Undset … as soon as the family finances can tolerate such a thing, we’ll acquire some. In the meantime they must go to feeding your god-daughter and your former housemate and other such important projects 🙂

    • It has to be admitted that those are all very worthy causes. 🙂

      You do, of course, have one Sigrid Undset book in the house now, i.e. the first book in the trilogy on Kristin Lavransdatter. If either of you or both like it, the rest may well follow by and by.

  2. I’m terrible. I haven’t got reading it yet. I started it but rarely get the chance to sit down and read these days! 😦

    • You’re wise to spend your energy on my wee god-daughter. 🙂 And the moving is hardly likely to give you more time and energy at the moment!

  3. Thank you for the recommendations, I truly LOVE Sigrid Undset although I have only read her in English. In the translation of Kristin Lavransdatter that I have, the language was so stunning, simple and beautiful that I was moved by so many of the descriptions. I am a word lover so I couldn’t believe how beautiful her writing is and I imagine if I could read it in Norwegian it would be that much more moving.

  4. The English translation I read of Kristin Lavransdatter used language that made me think of very high fantasy or of Arthurian legends. It was a real pleasure.

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