New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1929. First edition. 12 mo. (7 5/8 inches tall), original green cloth, gilt titles, green top edge, original dust jacket. Book fine, faint toning to spine, very short closed tears to spine and front panel of bright, unclipped dust jacket. A nearly fine copy. Item #1070
"Nobel Prize Edition" of Kristin Lavransdatter—a superb copy of the first collected English translation of Sigrid Undset's medieval trilogy. The 1928 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Sigrid Undset, a recent (1924) Catholic convert working in Lutheran Norway on the margins of the Catholic literary world. Set in the fourteenth century, Undset vividly describes life in medieval Norway where Christianity came relatively late and was established only gradually. The publisher (and most contemporary reviewers) focused on Norway's Viking culture rather than on the Faith. Kristin Lavransdatter has become a heroine of world literature: "Kristin, the daughter of Lavran, is one of the great world creations of fiction, and takes her place with Anna Karenin, Emma Bovary, Tess, and Eugenie Grandet. She is literally a woman of all time" (Hugh Walpole). Composed of three volumes—Book I. The Bridal Wreath, Book II. The Mistress of Husaby, Book III. The Cross—,the trilogy was first published in Norway in 1920-1922. The English editions, translated from the Norwegian by Charles Archer and J.S. Scott, followed in 1923-1927. Collecting all three books in a single volume and published by Alfred A. Knopf as a "Borzoi Book" in February 1929. Printed on thin India paper with end Notes, including an illustrated "Sketch Map showing Husaby" and a plan of the Hall of Husaby. Kristin Lavransdatter would prove to be popular enough to warrant numerous English printings on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1930, this Nobel Prize edition was followed by another one-volume edition of Kristin Lavransdatter, printed for Knopf's short lived London imprint. The colophon leaf at the rear repeats Undset's biography and the edition details. Laid-in is an original publisher's printed bookmark advertising several Knopf titles upcoming in 1929. Becoming quite scarce, especially so in this condition.