The Unknown Sigrid Undset by Sigrid Undset
Jenny and Other Works

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Synopsis

Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy is an internationally best-selling classic, but her earlier work has long been out of print. In this new collection, readers finally have a window into Undset’s views on women’s sexuality, the relationship between motherhood and art, and the complex dynamic between women and men. The book includes two short stories, “Simonsen” and “Tjodolf,” which capture the lives of people living in Christiana (now Oslo) in 1900; a novel, Jenny, which tells the story of a disenchanted painter; and an assortment of letters written between 1900 and 1922.
 

About Sigrid Undset

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Sigrid Undset was the daughter of archeologist Ingvald Undset. Cultural, autobiographical, and religious topics constitute a large and interesting portion of her fiction, which in Norway is categorized according to the time of action: medieval or modern. Jenny (1911), an idealistic and tragic love story, is one of the latter novels. Undset's comprehensive knowledge of medieval Scandinavian culture has its literary monuments in Kristin Lavransdatter (1920--22) and The Master of Hestviken (1925--27), historical novels that depict life in the Norwegian Middle Ages. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. Norwegian criticism of Sigrid Undset's writing centers on her religiosity (she became a conservative, almost reactionary Catholic in Lutheran Norway in the 1920s; she possesses an intensity of belief that is rather naturally expressed in the medieval novels. Yet while she has written religious polemics, the medieval novels are not tendentious. In fact, the central motifs are eroticism, marriage, and family life, in short, the full life of a medieval woman who sees herself in the light of contemporary Christian beliefs. These novels are great, realistic delineations of medieval personalities. During World War II she escaped the German occupation of Norway and fled to America, where she wrote her autobiographical Happy Times in Norway (1942). Tim Page is the author of "Dawn Powell: A Biography" & editor of "Dawn Powell at Her Best" & "The Diaries of Dawn Powell." Formerly the chief music critic for "The Washington Post," he is now the artistic advisor & creative chair for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
 
Published May 10, 2001 by Steerforth Press. 500 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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The latter is represented by letters to a lifelong “pen pal,” in which the fledgling realist reveals her literary ambition, unabashed feminism, and determination “to be, a woman artist, and not a pen-wielding lady.” This credo is fulfilled in the naturalistic tales “Simonsen” (an aging widower’s ...

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Norwegian writer Undset (1882–1949) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928 for her epic medieval trilogy, Kristin Lavransdatter, which has remained an

Apr 30 2001 | Read Full Review of The Unknown Sigrid Undset: Je...

Publishers Weekly

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Jenny, unlike her sexually liberal friend Fransiska, vows to keep her virtue intact—until she falls in love with fellow Norwegian Helge Gramm.

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