On the Wings of History
Kristin Lavransdatter is a love story – but a masterly one that begins, in the first book of the trilogy, with Kristin swiftly breaking her society’s norms of patriarchy, duty and honour in order to give herself over to erotic passion. Undset viewed eroticism – a desire so profound that life would be intolerable if it were not satisfied – as part of the spiritual sphere. Kristin falls, in every way, for the handsome but clearly unsuitable Erlend Nikulaussøn, although her father has already pledged her to the thoroughly decent Simon Darre. When the wedding between Kristin and Erlend is finally allowed to happen, at the end of the first book, it is an excruciating affair, the bridal crown weighing so heavily on Kristin’s head that she can hardly sit upright at the banquet.