The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson
(New York Review Books Classics)

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Synopsis

Frans Gunnar Bengtsson’s The Long Ships resurrects the fantastic world of the tenth century AD when the Vikings roamed and rampaged from the northern fastnesses of Scandinavia down to the Mediterranean. Bengtsson’s hero, Red Orm—canny, courageous, and above all lucky—is only a boy when he is abducted from his Danish home by the Vikings and made to take this place at the oars of their dragon-prowed ships. Orm is then captured by the Moors in Spain, where he is initiated into the pleasures of the senses and fights for the Caliph of Cordova. Escaping from captivity, Orm washes up in Ireland, where he marvels at those epicene creatures, the Christian monks, and from which he then moves on to play an ever more important part in the intrigues of the various Scandinavian kings and clans and dependencies. Eventually, Orm contributes to the Viking defeat of the army of the king of England and returns home an off-the-cuff Christian and a very rich man, though back on his native turf new trials and tribulations will test his cunning and determination. Packed with pitched battles and blood feuds and told throughout with wit and high spirits, Bengtsson’s book is a splendid adventure that features one of the most unexpectedly winning heroes in modern fiction.
 

About Frans G. Bengtsson

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Frans G. Bengtsson (1894-1954) was born and raised in the southern Swedish province of Skåne, the son of an estate manager. His early writings, including a doctoral thesis on Geoffrey Chaucer and two volumes of poetry written in what were considered antiquated verse forms, revealed a career-long interest in historical literary modes and themes. Bengtsson was a prolific translator (of Paradise Lost, The Song of Roland, and Walden), essayist (he published five collections of his writings, mostly on literary and military topics), and biographer (his two-volume biography of Charles XII won the Swedish Academy's annual prize in 1938). In 1941 he published Roede Orm, sjoefarare i vaesterled (Red Orm at Home and on the Western Way), followed, in 1945, by Roede Orm, hemma i oesterled (Red Orm at Home and on the Eastern Way). The two books were published in a single volume in the United States and England in 1955 as The Long Ships. During the Second World War, Bengtsson was outspoken in his opposition to the Nazis, refusing to allow for a Norwegian translation of The Long Ships while the country was still under German occupation. He died in 1954 after a long illness. Michael Meyer (1921-2000) was a translator, novelist, biographer, and playwright, best known for his translations of the works of Ibsen and Strindberg. His biography of Ibsen won the Whitbread Prize for Biography in 1971. Michael Chabon is the author of ten books, including The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, The Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Klay, The Yiddish Policeman's Union, and Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. He lives in Berkeley, California.
 
Published December 15, 2010 by NYRB Classics. 528 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Horror. Non-fiction
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Unrated Critic Reviews for The Long Ships

New York Journal of Books

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The first was originally published in 1941 as Red Orm on the Western Way, the second as Red Orm at Home and on the Eastern Way in 1945.

Jul 06 2010 | Read Full Review of The Long Ships (New York Revi...

Christian Science Monitor

In keeping with the theme of Swedish authors whose thrilling works outlive them – as was the case with Stieg Larsson – the time is just right for what, in the interest of symmetry, should be re-named “The Boy With Dragon Ships.” Meet none other than Red Orm, a wandering über-Viking blessed with i...

Aug 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Long Ships (New York Revi...

The New York Review of Books

The NYRB Classics edition includes an introduction by long-time enthusiast Michael Chabon, who calls it “a novel with the potential to please every literate human being.” Chabon is also the novel’s reviewer and recommender for The San Francisco Chronicle, where he champions The Long Ships ...

Jul 13 2010 | Read Full Review of The Long Ships (New York Revi...

The New York Review of Books

In 1941 he published Roede Orm, sjoefarare i vaesterled ( Red Orm at Home and on the Western Way), followed, in 1945, by Roede Orm, hemma i oesterled (Red Orm at Home and on the Eastern Way).

Jul 06 2010 | Read Full Review of The Long Ships (New York Revi...

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