Ex Libris Kirkland

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Translator Tina Nunnally
First Written 1921
Genre Fiction
Origin Norway
Publisher Penguin Classics
ISBN-10 0141181281
My Copy penguin paperback
First Read February 01, 2017

Kristin Lavransdatter II: The Wife



Kristin lavrans is such a masterpiece. It has that rare power of describing something /good/ in a convincing, and beautiful way. The whole trilogy is beautiful, but its range of experiences is really striking to me.

It's a big, complicated novel in the tradition of Anna Karenina. It has this rare power of expressing this huge range of emotional experience in a way that doesn't feel foreign, but like you've always known it and Undset is perfectly describing it. Over and over again, I read some passage and thought: 'Yes, yes, this is just exactly what that's like.'

In fact, I think if Tiina Nunally's great translation had appeared earlier, we might have seen KL show up more frequently among the Big Great Novels. I've only dipped into the previous translation, but it's weird and archaic and stilted like some kind of terrible Sir Walter Scott. But Tiina Nunally's translation is great; it's clear and fluid, but still has a kind of not-quite-colloquialness that carries through a flavor of translation. It's great, and I feel a debt of gratitute to Nunally for making it available.

Noted on February 14, 2017

One day she said that she thought her father had endured so many trials in this life that surely he would be spared from the worst of them in the next. Lavrans replied that it didn't seems that way to him; he had been a rich man, he was descended from a splendid lineage, and he had won friends and prosperity in the world. "My greatest sorrows were that I never saw my mother's face, and that I lost my children - but soon they will no longer be sorrows. And the same is true of other things that have grieved me in my life - they are no longer sorrows."

Quoted on February 14, 2017

"Men like Erlend," said the regent in a low voice. "They're the most dangerous kind. Men who think a little farther than their own interests, but not far enough."

Quoted on February 14, 2017

Now it was all forgiven and forgotten, and Kristin realized that it was partly out of gratitude for this that her husband so willingly acquiesced and behaved in the way people wanted him to behave. He must have suffered bitterly during that time when he was banished from the company of his peers in Norway. But the problem was, it made her think of her father, when he released incompetent men from their obligations or debts with the mere shrug of his shoulders. It was a Christian duty to bear with those who could not conduct themselves properly. Was it in this manner that Erlend had been forgiven the sins of his youth?

Quoted on February 14, 2017

He had complained to the archbishop about the uneasiness and fear that came over him whenever he thought about his riches and how much he enjoyed being wealthy. For the needs of his own body he required little; he himself lived like a poor monk. But he liked to see many people sitting at his table; he liked to forestall the needs of the poor with his gifts. And he loved his horses and his books.

Quoted on February 14, 2017


Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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