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Kristin Lavransdatter: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Sigrid Undset , Tiina Nunnally , Brad Leithauser
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $27.00
Kindle Price: $17.24
You Save: $9.76 (36%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


"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.

From the Inside Flap

"The finest historical novel our 20th century has yet produced; indeed it dwarfs most of the fiction of any kind that Europe has produced in the last twenty years."

-- Contemporary Movements in European Literature, edited by William Rose and J. Isaacs

"As a novel it must be ranked with the greatest the world knows today." -- Montreal Star

"Sigrid Undset's trilogy embodies more of life, seen understandingly and seriously... than any novel since Dostoievsky's Brothers Karamazov. It is also very probably the noblest work of fiction ever to have been inspired by the Catholic art of life." -- Commonweal

"No other novelist, past or present, has bodied forth the medieval world with such richness and fullness of indisputable genius.... One of the finest minds in European literature."

-- New York Herald Tribune

"This trilogy is the first great story founded upon the normal events of a normal woman's existence. It is as great and as rich, as simple and as profound, as such a story should be."

-- Ruth Suckow in the Des Moines Register

Product Details

  • File Size: 2118 KB
  • Print Length: 1168 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic (September 27, 2005)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,015 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
121 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kristin, I can't stop thinking about you January 13, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kristin Lavransdatter is the biggest literary surprise that ever engulfed me, as I read its 1,168 pages in three weeks on the subway, airplanes, theater auditoriums, nature trails, and anywhere else I could sneak in a few pages, the better to channel my way into Kristin's compelling, meticulously created and true-to-life world.

This story starts slowly, like a locomotive, but by the end it builds a staggering, devastating momentum that still swirls in my mind, months after finishing the novel for the second time.

If you like treason, torture, betrayal, drunken assaults, bar fights, sword fights, political intrigue, charging bears, brothels, plague, poison, suicide, damsels in distress, black magic, and human sacrifice, you'll find it in these pages.

And if you like stories of spiritual quests, coming of age and reflections from age, the bonds between fathers and daughters, and of mothers and sons, platonic love, unrequited love, doomed love, the joys of children, the inextinguishable anguish of burying children, the circle of life that never stops turning, and the most tender, heartbreaking passages I've ever read of the love between a mother and her child, you'll find even more of it in Kristin's life story.

And to all the smug reviewers who chastise Kristin and wish they could have just slapped some sense into her, I say this: can you really imagine that Kristin could have led her life any other way? My answer is this:

"All that happened and would happen was meant to be. Everything happens as it is meant to be." (p. 289, "The Cross")

Kristin is not a saint, but neither is she a cautionary tale. As long as we humans can love and live, we will love well, love madly and sometimes love foolishly, and we'll tell stories about it. And this story of Kristin is for me the truest love story ever told, and I will never forget her.
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165 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Genius that Still Haunts Me September 22, 2006
I read this as a book-club selection, and I'm so glad I did. Under different circumstances, I might have avoided the title, because of its size and the seemingly dry first page (it starts with a lineage and a history of the family's geographical locations).

Well. Thank heavens for book clubs. Because this is a book I will read again, and I rank it right up there with Marquez's Hundred Years of Solitude.

Undset follows the life of one woman, Kristin Lavransdatter, from childhood to death. The handling of the various season's of Kristin's life are pure genius. Undset captures the qualities of each stage, without being trite or predictable. I think this is why I often felt as if I were inside the mind and heart of Kristin, even though our surface circumstances are wildly different.

Here's an example of a scene that absolutely made me weep, because I could relate to that fearful time of life when one looks at one's parents and realizes they won't always be here. The poignant moment takes place in a "hollow between small hills," as Kristin departs from her father.

"Kristin...ran her fingers over his clothing and his hand and his saddle, and along the neck and flank of his horse; she pressed her head here and there..." (p.544)

The desperation, the sense of wanting to touch and touch again that which is about to slip through one's fingers... how beautifully Undset captures that.

And, how beautifully she also captures so many other moments--of passion and betrayal, of forgiveness and unforgiveness, of acceptance and denial, of longing and loss.

I wish I had a few weeks to hide away in my room... I would pick this up again without pause. Nevertheless, the characters are still with me, calling me to a reflection and deep feeling I haven't experienced in quite some time.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kristin Lavransdatter A Good Long Winter's Read October 25, 2005
Many novels set in the Middle Ages happen to have a few people and a few human values in them. Authors dwell upon the trappings of the times, ensnaring their characters in endless descriptions of clothing and castles, until the stories read like a 6th Grade history text, in which a child hero takes the reader through the facts and figures of the era by recreating A Day in the Life of A Knight. Or a Monk. Or a Serf.

Then, there's Sigrid Undsett's `Kristin Lavransdatter,' written in the 1920s and winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature. This novel contains strong people with real attitudes, who happen to live in 14th Century Norway. Universal themes create a link between the Medieval era and modern times, the same way the motifs of `Romeo and Juliet,' or `Othello' link the Renaissance to the 21st Century.

The epic story (over 1100 pages) focuses on Kristin, the strong-willed and somewhat spoiled daughter of the knight, Lavran. Intelligent but impetuous, Kristin struggles through her teenage years, breaks an engagement to the embarrassment of her parents, and marries Erland, a man of whom they disapprove.

Kristin and Erland have a rocky, but at the same time joyous marriage. In some ways, he is a disappointing husband. He is a passionate lover, but cannot manage money or land, and has no common sense about people. Forced to become the brains of the family, Kristin constantly struggles between keeping her place as a woman, and managing finances and fields.

As her children grow up, Erland gets on the wrong side of national politics and plunges the family into poverty. She copes. Eventually he dies in a fight. She becomes a nun. .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars review of Kristin Lavransdatter: A Novel by Sigrid Undset
I found this Nobel prize-winning novel to have truly breathtaking descriptions of the Norwegian landscapes. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Rockvillenana
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing book. Would highly recommend it to anyone.
Published 12 days ago by Jessica Schubert
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Great Ones
All time classic. I can read and re-read this happily. I bought this volume for my son. It is a lovely modern translation and even more accessible than the older translation,... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Lolly
5.0 out of 5 stars This book should be on a required reading list.
Beautifully written, great story, characters and setting became real in mind. I loved every minute reading it. Definitely on my top 5 list.
Published 1 month ago by Ann Plunkett
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful New Translation
A wonderful life portrait of the title character's life in medieval Norway. This new translation is fresh and vibrant, some of the descriptions are worthy of the great 19th... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John J. Kelleher
5.0 out of 5 stars and loved it. It is a wonderfully moral plot
I've been wanting to read this monumental work for forty years. The Bantam one-volume is affordable: the translation avoids archaic expressions. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Theresa C. Lowe
5.0 out of 5 stars you read this book again
Best book ever writen about and by a women..... Ever!
Published 1 month ago by Cj Mccloskey III
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Kristin Lavransdaughter
I read this book during WW2 in Holland. Some years ago I read the German translation and finally in Engish, which I believe to be the best transation. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jacoba van Mastrigt
5.0 out of 5 stars Love new translation.
Second time reading this and first time in new translation. I wish I had read it with someone as it would make rich discussions. Love this book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by nancy a dusenberry
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
I am still not finished with this 1200-page book! Thank goodness for Kindle. It is easy to understand why Undset won the Nobel Prize. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Pat the Book Lover
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