Sigrid Undset

Flag of Norway.svgIf you followed the Sochi Olympics you probably know that Norway was overrepresented in so far as winning medals go. They came in third place with 26 medals, 11 gold. Not bad for a country with a population of a little over 5 million people.

But the Norwegians need not only be proud of their athletes but also of their Nobel Laureates for Literature. Three in all. One woman: Sigrid Undset.

Born the same year as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce (1882)  Sigrid Undset, at the age of 25,  made her literary debut with a short, realistic novel on adultery. It created a stir, and she found herself ranked as a promising young author in Norway. Its English translation is out this month (March 2014). 

“I have been unfaithful to my husband” is the novel’s opening sentence. Written in diary form the novel documents the inner life of a young woman disappointed by the conventions of marriage and longing for passion.

It was, however, her masterpieces – epic medieval trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter, published between 1920 and 1922, and the four-volume Olav Audunssøn, published between 1925 and 1927 which won her the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928.

Sigrid Undset at her desk writing Kristin Lavransdatter. Photo: Alvilde Torp

 Photo by Alvilde Torp of Sigrid Undset at her desk writing Kristin Lavransdatter.

Here’s a country that truly honors its writers

Norwegian Air Shuttle

While driving in my car I recently picked up an interview on the possibility of Norway hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics. One of the interviewees was against this because of its costs. He stated that it was better to spend that kind of money on hospitals and education. Another interviewee (also from Norway) said that Norway has been a guest at many Olympics and sometimes you have to be the host.

Do you think Norway should host the 2022 Olympics? 

34 thoughts on “Sigrid Undset

  1. I’d love to see Norway host the 2022 Olympics. The last time they hosted was in 1994. And hey, any country that pays such tribute to its writers is fine by me! 🙂


  2. I think every country could “better use” the money that goes towards hosting an Olympics. But the venue also does create jobs and revenue, at least for that moment in time. I would think it the perfect skiing world.


    • This is such a controversial issue. You’re right about it The Olympics creating jobs but then there’s also a hefty debt left over. Ah, money!
      But I agree with you, it would be neat to have Norway host. One of the things i like about watching the Olympics is that you learn about the country.
      I was so amazed to see those amazing mountains in Russia.


  3. Norway would be a cool host for the Olympics. My wife is a graphic designer and she does book covers for a Norwegian book publisher. Most of the books she does cover pretty depressing topics. I don’t know if that is the publishers niche or a general trend over there.


  4. Very interesting. I’d never heard of her! I think Norway is a fabulous location, though it feels to me as if they were just there a few days ago ;).


  5. Thank you for the introduction to a new author. Given that Norway is the country with the most spare cash and they have such an investment in winter sports, I think they should host the 2022 olympics, so that other countries can spend their money on hospitals and education.


  6. I certainly liked S.U.’s writing desk and surrounding area. As for hosting the Olympics, I suppose that there are arguments for and against, but if you’re a major participant, you have to take your turn, especially for an advanced nordic nation.


    • Norway has actually has been host to only two (1952 Oslo and 1994 Lillehammer), same number of times of Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Japan, and less than France (3) and, of course, the USA (4).
      The next Winter Olympics will be in Korea (2018) and so it seems that the Olympic Committee doesn’t want another Asian country (although China has expressed interest).


  7. Of course Norway should be able to host Olympics. And, thanks for the article Carol, I look forward to some reading by this author. I look forward to your always informative posts. 🙂


  8. Oh, I love that picture of the writer and her desk. You have brought another unknown author to my attention and for that I am so grateful. Your posts are so very well written and informative. Hugs and have a great week.


    • Thanks for your kind words. These writers are also often unknown to me and that’s what I like about doing these posts. They make me discover great writers and share them with others:)


      • i guess we are like-minded with this. When I read one of your posts, I have to read what I can on the person to get a glimpse of the author and her life. I guess we are kind of into the Memoir Genre to some extent.


  9. What a provocative opening sentence, even more startling for that time period. She is intriguing. As for the Olympics, I know the places that have hosted in the US were left with high quality, diverse facilities that future athletes then used to hone their skills. Athletes come from other countries come to train here. It is a huge expense to host, though, and security is an every-increasing problem. However, it gives ownership to the citizens and shows the commitment of the country to the athletes risking death or serious injury in some of the winter sports. I’ve always wanted to visit Norway, but I’m a crowd-avoider, so I would not visit during the olympics. 🙂


  10. I can’t imagine an American airline putting a writer on one of its planes. I can understand both viewpoints when it comes to hosting events like the Olympics, so I’m not sure what would be the best course for Norway. But kudos to them for celebrating writing!


  11. Cool! I like this post! I am Norwegian! Hihi 🙂 I grew up reading her books, especially Kristin Lavransdatter. That book is very popular in Norway. It has also been made into a movie. I felt quite at home here on your blog today! 🙂


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