Undset, or Three Things to Love
About the Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy

Blogger's Note: Several years ago, I agreed to my friend Jacqui's challenge to read 15 Classics in 15 Weeks. I continue to press forward, this being number 12 of 15, and at this point 15 Classics in 15 Years seems quite doable...

Last week I finally finished Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. This series came highly recommended by two trusted friends; the author, Sigrid Undset, was the daughter of Norwegian atheists, a Catholic convert, and a Nobel Prize winner. The books are tremendous, insightful, and often achingly beautiful.

However, these are not easy reads. Although written in the 20th century, my translation, at least, has a voice and vocabulary hearkening to the Middle Ages, with both Norwegian and Latin scattered throughout. The author's knowledge and love of her country's geography and culture shines throughout the books, but could overwhelm or disorient the reader.

It can also be challenging for a man to characterize or recommend these books to others -- the covers of the edition I have (pictured above) do not inspire masculine interest, nor do the titles or cover summaries:
That said, within the past month, The Catholic Gentleman website posted an article entitled, "Kristin Lavransdatter and Your Nordic Catholic Medieval Heart," which makes a solid (if hyperbolic) case for why every Catholic man, at least, should read these books.* Men, take this as a challenge!

Now, without further ado, Three Things to Love about the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy:
I've got three more slots in my seemingly interminable quest to read 15 classics, and it has taken so long that my interests have changed. I think my final three books will be Dante's Divine Comedy, Flannery O'Connor's Collected Works, and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Not sure on the order yet -- I'm reading something else in the interim!

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The comments below the post also suggest that translations other than the one pictured, by Archer and Scott, may be better or easier reads.

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