Happy New Year, everyone! Every new year brings a bit of hope to my heart that things will get better both personally and professionally. I’ll do what I can to see improvements where possible!
Let’s kick off 2023 and my continuing series of Historical Fiction Around the World with my first thoughts about The Wreath by Sigrid Undset, translated into English by Tiina Nunnally. The Wreath is the first of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. This story, first published in 1920 and translated into 80 languages, is set in the 14th century in Norway and is written by a Denmark-born but Norwegian-raised author. Ms. Undset received a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.
I’m about a third of the way through the story, and am enjoying it now that I’m acclimated to the language and the narrative style. Undset weaves a compelling tale and paints a beautiful and vivid landscape for her story. My brain had to make an adjustment to both the proper names used throughout and to the rather inverted syntax the author employs. What do I mean by that?
The proper names, such as that used in the trilogy title, are of course reflective of the country’s language. “Lavransdatter” translates to daughter of Lavrans, for instance. Other Norwegian terms are explained in context if not defined outright in the dialogue. While it took a moment to adjust, I soon fell into the pattern of the naming conventions.
The “inverted syntax” I referenced also comes from the differences in language used. I enjoy “hearing” the cadence of the language from a Norwegian influence. Much like when I visit other countries with a strong lilt to their speech, it’s nice to experience the different emphasis and musicality of the language even if merely on the page. I think the way we phrase our thoughts reflects our culture in subtle ways, which can be revealing in and of itself. But I digress!
Altogether, I am fully invested in finding out what Kristin will do next, what social mores and expectations she will confront and perhaps defeat for her own best interests, and where the author is going with this tale. I imagine I shall finish reading it this week and will report my complete impressions next time.
So once again, Happy New Year! And Happy Reading!
P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!
Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.
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