Published by: University of Minnesota Press
336 pages, 140.00 x 210.00 x 38.00 mm, 1 Map
- ISBN: 9781517910488
- Published: November 2020
The initial volume in the Nobel Prize–winning author’s tumultuous, epic story of medieval Norway—the first new English translation in nearly a century
As a child, Olav Audunssøn is given by his dying father to an old friend, Steinfinn Toressøn, who rashly promises to raise the boy as his foster son and eventually marry him to his own daughter, Ingunn. The two children, very different in temperament, become both brother and sister and betrothed. In the turbulent thirteenth-century Norway of Sigrid Undset’s epic masterpiece, bloodlines and loyalties often supersede law, and the crown and the church vie for power and wealth. Against this background and the complicated relationship between Olav and Ingunn, a series of fateful decisions leads to murder, betrayal, exile, and disgrace. In Vows, the first book in the powerful Olav Audunssøn tetralogy, Undset presents a richly imagined world split between pagan codes of retribution and the constraints of Christian piety—all of which threaten to destroy the lives of two young people torn between desires of the heart and the dictates of family and fortune.
As she did when writing her earlier and bestselling epic Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset immersed herself in the legal, religious, and historical documents of medieval Norway to create in Olav Audunssøn remarkably authentic and compelling portraits of Norwegian life in the Middle Ages. In this new English edition, renowned Scandinavian translator Tiina Nunnally again captures Undset’s fluid prose, conveying in an engaging lyrical style the natural world, complex culture, and fraught emotional territory of Olav and Ingunn’s dramatic story.
Map of the Gudbrandsdal Region
Genealogy and Kinship
Part I. Olav Audunssøn Marries
Part II. Ingunn Steinfinnsdatter
List of Holy Days and Canonical Hours
"Sigrid Undset's gift was to take readers inside the hearts and minds of people who lived and worked, struggled and connived in the fjords, villages, farms, and estates of thirteenth-century Norway. Tiina Nunnally's gift is to bring these characters to today's readers in clear, lyrical prose. Here we have the story of Olav Audunssøn and Ingunn Steinfinnsdatter, betrothed as children and constantly challenged by people who turn their sweet and simple love story into a fraught, twenty-year journey to that final kiss. No one but Undset could have written Olav Audunssøn, and no one but Nunnally could do it justice in translation. Read it—and spend time in the thirteenth century as it really was."—Nicola Griffith, author of Hild
"Tiina Nunnally is that rarest phenomenon: a translator whose translations sound entirely natural, idiomatic, and true. This new translation of the first volume of Sigrid Undset's Olav Audunssøn is a heroic undertaking, which Nunnally has accomplished with her accustomed elegance and flair."—John Banville, author of Mrs. Osmond
"This tetralogy, less known and less beloved than Kristin Lavransdatter, may be Sigrid Undset’s masterwork. Arthur G. Chater’s translation is now nearly a century old. Calculatedly archaic and smoothly florid, it retains the charms of its time and place. This new version by Tiina Nunnally performs Undset in a blunter and terser style which would not be out of place in one of those Norse sagas whose grim ethos lives on in the midbrains of the characters. It is a style entirely in keeping with the bleakness of this story of an honorable man whose loving self-sacrifice calcifies his heart."—William T. Vollmann, author of The Lucky Star
"An engaging read on many levels." —Nicki J. Markus