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The Unknown Sigrid Undset: Jenny and Other Works Hardcover – May 10, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-1586420215 ISBN-10: 1586420216 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press; First Edition edition (May 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586420216
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586420215
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,237,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Norwegian writer Undset (1882-1949) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for her epic medieval trilogy, Kristin Lavransdatter, which has remained an international classic since its publication. Nevertheless, her earlier work has long been out of print. In his introduction, Page makes a cogent case for reintroducing Jenny, along with two short stories, "Simonsen" and "Thjodolf," and selected letters written between 1900 and 1922. Remarkably, all the texts are unflinchingly modern and realistic in their depictions of women struggling for independence and fulfillment in a male-dominated world. Jenny was first published in 1911, yet this new edition, which restores passages omitted from the 1920 English translation, could easily have been written today. The protagonist, 27-year-old Jenny Winge, is a talented Norwegian painter who journeys to Rome to seek inspiration. She and her friends spend their days pursuing their dreams and their evenings socializing in the city's restaurants. Jenny, unlike her sexually liberal friend Fransiska, vows to keep her virtue intact until she falls in love with fellow Norwegian Helge Gramm. When the relationship sours, a disillusioned Jenny becomes involved with Helge's father, Gert. Jenny ends up destroying her artistic ambition and herself. The writing is direct and dramatic in the brooding Nordic manner whereby mishap and misery are discussed matter-of-factly; the weighty issues Undset examines unrequited love, betrayal and death are infused with a Strindbergian melancholy. Though not all characters escape unscathed, all grapple admirably with life's challenges. (May 15)Forecast: For those who discovered Undset in Nunnally's recent Penguin translation of Kristin Lavransdatter, this will be a must-read. Although perhaps too unembellished and harshly realist to appeal to mainstream American readers, this volume is sure to be chosen by librarians for their collections.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Undset is another example of a writer who was quite popular during her time she won the Nobel prize in 1928 but has since fallen into obscurity. This volume contains Undset's novel Jenny plus the short stories Thjodolf and Simonsen as well as a handful of the Norwegian writer's letters and a scholarly introduction.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have recently bought "The Unknown Sigrid Undset: Jenny and Other Works" published by Steerforth Press. This volume is the most carefully edited omnibus I have ever seen. It's clear that book lovers have done their work here, people who put love for books above everything else, including strictly commercial motivations. "Jenny" was out of print for what - 70 years? Perhaps more. The old translation from the 1920s apparently utilized the archaic English language, and thus Undset herself had decided to take it out of the circulation. You can also find an online interview with the translator, Tiina Nunnally, who translated it anew, and learn how difficult it is to bring old Scandinavian novels back to life, so that they are accessible to the XXI century reader, and yet do not lose anything of its original charm and style. It is a noble deed, really, in this day and age - to reprint the pearls of literature and in such careful way at that.
"Jenny" is a story of a young Norwegian lady, a painter and a spinster, who remained in that state despite the fact that she was both physically attractive, and very well liked, a young persona whose companionship was sought by her peers. A small group of artistically gifted young Scandinavian people spends their summers in Rome before World War I, to remain there for a long time, only occasionally coming back to the native soil. Her observations, the observations of a young traveling woman, are full of wisdom, full of realism so much unlike the sentimental, eerie otherworldliness and nonchalance of the contemporary characters, for you have to remember that "Jenny" was written in 1911, when the effects of the decadent new wave in literature and culture were still strong.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. T. Walker on July 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
After reading the Tiina Nunnally translations of Undset's Gunnar's Daughter, and Kristin Lavransdatter (all 3 vol.), I was more than hooked on Undset, I was obsessed. I ordered Jenny from the library and loved the immediacy and complete contemporariness of the book. I know contemporariness is not a word but heck, I can't think of the correct term. Sigrid Undset is a solid writer-- her characters are complex, intelligent, dynamic and they face interesting ethical and moral quetions. I give Gunnar's Daughter and Krisin Lavransdatter (which is an amazing trilogy) 5 stars. Jenny did not have the hefty power of these two (read the introductions!) but it is a very enjoyable story.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "bloozshooz" on April 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This volume showcases some great early works by Sigrid Undset that give a foretaste of the Nobel Prize-winning books she would write 10-20 years later. The novel "Jenny," from 1911, tells the fate of a young woman painter during her years in Rome and later back home in Oslo. Undset's descriptions are as vivid as a painting themselves, and the characters of Jenny and her artist friends in Rome will remind you of people you know today. And isn't that one thing that makes great art universal? Undset's letters to her Swedish penpal reveal the desire of a young writer to escape her humdrum office-worker existence -- Undset worked for a German electrical company for 10 years! -- and have the time to do nothing but write; these letters are astoundingly mature for a 21-year-old. If you want to see where the celebrated author of "Kristin Lavransdatter" started out (and read it in the limpid prose of Tiina Nunnally's exquisitely rendered translation), this is the book for you!
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