Today, May 17, is Norwegian Constitution Day, the Syttende Mai. It’s a big festival day with parades and flags and everyone decked in their bunads, the national costume. No parades this year due to the pandemic, so I thought it a good day to write about a Norwegian author, Sigrid Undset.
Writing at the beginning of the 20th century, Undset won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for her trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter. Set in 14th century Norway, it tells the life story of this woman. Undset was fascinated with things medieval, and this trilogy is such a wonderful evocation of the life of that period. It’s set just at the edge of Christianity arriving in Norway and it is fascinating for that liminal time. I have not read this for years, but have read it twice and loved it both times.
Following Kristin Lavransdatter she wrote a four-book series called The Master of Hestviken. This one is a little later, in the early days of Catholic Norway. This is actually my favorite, and one I’ll re-read again soon. My copy has disappeared, so I’ll need to find another.
These books are very available in many formats, and I invite you to enter into these amazing stories. The picture below is of my old copy. It’s the 1929 “Nobel Prize Edition” purchased by either my Norwegian grandmother or my parents. I know it was on our bookshelves in our home when I was growing up, and now it’s on mine.