Undset, Sigrid

(1882-1949)
   A Norwegian novelist and short story writer, Undset was the third Norwegian writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize (after Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Knut Hamsun).
   Her worldwide reputation rests primarily on her trilogy Kristin La-vransdatter (1920-1922), which has been translated into more than 70 languages. The daughter of an archeologist, Undset early developed a love for the Middle Ages, but on the advice of the editor who rejected her first work of fiction, a story with a medieval setting, her earliest published works are set in her own time. Great examples of the neorealism of the early 20th century, these books deal with social issues and the existential situation of their protagonists, particularly their love relationships. Undset's first novel, Fru Marta Oulie (1907; Mrs. Marta Oulie), recounts the story of the narrator-protagonist's marriage and adultery. Den lykkelige alder (1908; The Happy Age) is a collection of short stories. Both of these volumes were well received, and Undset next published a short novel with a medieval setting, Fortællingen om Viga-Ljot og Vigdis (1909; tr. Gunnar's Daughter, 1936), in which love and revenge are major themes.
   Undset's literary breakthrough came with the novel Jenny (1911; tr. 1920), the story of a young painter who first falls in love with a man of her own generation, then becomes pregnant by his father, is raped by the son, and commits suicide. Although starkly realistic, it differs from many other novels about women and love in that Jenny sees her flaw as being too impatient to wait for the man who is to be her lord and master, and Undset was criticized for not sufficiently emphasizing Jenny's need for freedom and independence. Undset continued to speak openly about matters of sex in her next book, a collection of stories entitled Fattige skjebner (1912; Poor Fates).
   The tone of Undset's literary works at this time was clearly at varience with the feminism of her age. For example, her novel Vaaren (1914; Spring) has as its protagonist a married woman who sacrifices to hold her family together during a crisis. The two stories in Splinten av troldspeilet (1917; The Splinter of the Troll Mirror) offer radically different solutions to problems in marriage, but Undset is clearly on the side of the character who gives up her lover in order to keep her husband. De kloge jomfruer (1918; The Wise Virgins) contains stories about growth through suffering. Undset's views on the relationship between the sexes was presented in expository form in a collection of articles entitled Et kvindesynspunkt (1919; A Woman's Point of View).
   Undset's interest in religion led to her conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1924, and the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter, her literary masterpiece, should be seen against the background of her developing religious commitment. Consisting of the volumes Kransen (1920; tr. The Bridal Wreath, 1923), Husfrue (1922; tr. The Mistress of Husaby, 1925), and Korset (1922; tr. The Cross, 1927), it tells the story of Kristin's stormy relationship with her husband, the knight Erlend Nikulausson. Having rejected the likable and honorable man chosen for her by her father, Kristin suffers greatly during her marriage to Erlend, who lacks both a sense of responsibility and good judgment; Kristin even has to beg for his life because he has gotten involved in a plot against the king. After Erlend's violent death, Kristin chooses to become a nun; she learns to acknowledge God's hand in her life as she succumbs to the Black Death while caring for some of its victims.
   Staying with the Middle Ages, Undset next wrote a two-part epic, Olav Audunssøn i Hestviken (1925; tr. The Axe and The Snake Pit, 1928-1929) and Olav Audunssøn og hans børn (1927; tr. In the Wilderness and The Son Avenger, 1929-1930). A story about guilt and redemption, it is theologically complex and is considered less interesting than Kristin.
   Conversion to Catholicism is the overt theme of Gymnadenia (1929; tr. The Wild Orchid, 1929) and its sequel, Den brænnende busk (1930; tr. The Burning Bush), in which a young man overcomes agnosticism while experiencing a difficult marriage. The novels Ida Elisabeth (1932; tr. 1933) and Den trofaste hustru (1936; tr. The Faithful Wife, 1937) also have a contemporary setting and are focused on a woman's relationship with children and husband. These novels have strong religious overtones as well.
   Madame Dorthea (1939; tr. 1940), set in the late 1700s, was intended as the first volume of a series of novels, but this project was interrupted by the onset of World War II. Undset spent the war in the United States as an unofficial cultural ambassador for Norway. She published no more works of fiction. She did, however, write articles, speeches, memoirs, and saints lives.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Undset, Sigrid — born May 20, 1882, Kalundborg, Den. died June 10, 1949, Lillehammer, Nor. Norwegian novelist. Her father was an archaeologist, and her home life was steeped in legend, folklore, and Norwegian history. Her early novels deal with the position of… …   Universalium

  • Undset, Sigrid — ► (1882 1949) Escritora noruega. Fue una gran analista del alma femenina. Fue premio Nobel de Literatura en 1928. Autora de Kristin Lavransdatter (1920 22). * * * (20 may. 1882, Kalundborg, Dinamarca–10 jun. 1949, Lillehammer, Noruega). Novelista …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Undset,Sigrid — Und·set (o͝onʹsĕt ), Sigrid. 1882 1949. Danish born Norwegian writer whose novels, including the trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter (1920 1922), concern Catholicism and the struggles of women and are often set in medieval Scandinavia. She won the 1928 …   Universalium

  • Undset — Undset, Sigrid …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Sigrid Undset — au début des années 1920 Naissance 20 mai 1882 Kalundbor …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Undset — Sigrid Undset (* 20. Mai 1882 in Kalundborg, Dänemark; † 10. Juni 1949 in Lillehammer, Norwegen) war eine norwegische Romanautorin, Novellistin und Essayistin. Ihre Werke befassen sich mit dem Konflikt zwischen norwegischer Tradition, der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sigrid Undset — en 1927 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Undset — (Sigrid) (1882 1949) romancière norvégienne: Kristin Lavransdatter (3 vol., 1920 1922), le Buisson ardent (1930), la Femme fidèle (1936), etc. P. Nobel 1928 …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sigrid Undset — Sigrid Undset, Fotografie von Aage Remfeldt, 1928 Sigrid Undset (* 20. Mai 1882 in Kalundborg, Dänemark; † 10. Juni 1949 in Lillehammer, Norwegen) war eine norwegische Romanautorin, Novellistin und Essayistin. Ihre Werke befassen sich mit dem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • UNDSET (S.) — Comment peut on consacrer toute une vie à chanter la femme sans être féministe au sens historique, c’est à dire polémique, du terme? Comment résoudre, lorsqu’on est scandinave, l’accablant conflit entre rêve et réalité sans verser dans le… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.