Ex Libris Kirkland

Buy it from Amazon

Subtitle A Reading by Andrew Lytle
First Written 1992
Genre Literary Criticism
Origin US
Publisher University of Missouri
ISBN-10 0826208479
ISBN-13 978-0826208477
My Copy library hardback
First Read February 13, 2017


I don't understand exactly what this book is, or what it's trying to do. It's like a long cliffs notes, with a scattering of intermingled theorizing. Or like an overlong summary review that spends most of its time summarizing the plot. Maybe 'a reading' is really the most appropriate descriptor, I don't know.

BUT - after reading Kristin Lavransdatter and having no one around to talk about it with, I was eager to read this and have some kind of discourse about Undset's work.

Noted on February 14, 2017

The sinister damage to marriage is the betrayal which comes when man or woman makes public the intimacy of private matters and so induces the confusion to all behavior.

Kristin has broken the peace of the manor.

The children, the probable cause, show it. She grows silent and speaks to the little ones in abrupt ways. The big boys are completely silent. The serving folk are loath to ask questions. Her brooding makes her uncivil.

Quoted on February 14, 2017

Their meaning is fullest in the scenes when Kristin is brought to the straw with her first child, well under way and partially disguised by Lady Aashild at the marriage ceremony. The scenes of the birth of the heir of Husaby are the most telling in the saga. They are meant to and do make trivial most of the actions of men.

Quoted on February 14, 2017

He pulls out this Norse proverb from the Havamal:
Praise no day til evening, no wife until she is buried, no sword until tested, no maid until given in marriage, no ice until crossed, no ale until drunk.

Quoted on February 14, 2017

Lytle's assessment of Simon is pretty grim:
Feudal laws and mores revealed Simon as the grown-man child. He could not love a woman properly, and absolute love as Kristin gave he could not return. His thoughts of woman were adolescent. In his death euphoria no woman called him. Jon, his man, told him it was his boyhood cousin who welcomed him beyond the gate.

Quoted on February 14, 2017

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
Interested in talking about it?
Get in touch. You might also want to check out my other projects or say hello on twitter.