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Gosta Berling's Saga Paperback – Aug 1997

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Paperback, Aug 1997
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Product details

  • Paperback: 349 pages
  • Publisher: Penfield Pr (Aug. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572160330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572160330
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,250,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Wild Wave of Adventure 2 Nov. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Saga is acclaimed by many as her finest work; it is certainly her most popular. Lagerlöf drew on stories of legendary figures in her rural province in south-central Sweden to weave this epic tapestry of passions, her first major published work.
The story revolves around the character of Gösta Berling, who begins the book in despair after drunkenness costs him his post as a country pastor. Through the apparent generosity of the Lady of Ekeby, he falls in with twelve aging "cavaliers" who live in a separate wing of her manor house. In a turn of events that bears the devil's stamp, the Lady is turned away from Ekeby, giving Gösta Berling and the cavaliers full run of the estate and its mines, provided they remain true to their code to do nothing that is "sensible or useful." Let it be said that they succeed in this resolve; whether the community benefits from their mischief is a matter of serious debate.
Lagerlöf's masterpiece can be enjoyed on many levels. The setting provides a fresh departure from contemporary life, illustrating a simple country existence. Lagerlöf's treatment of characters ranging from peasantry to nobility satisfies the reader's moral sense, as sympathy is extended toward the dispossessed, a harsh light shone on selfish or calloused souls, and a gentle wit bent on those exhibiting minor follies. The cavaliers provide charming foils to the melodrama of Gösta's love interests; to this is added a profoundly supernatural element. The symbolism recalls the power of pagan rites, as well as the consciously Christian theme of forgiveness, while the premise of the saga recalls the Faust legend. Gösta Berling's Saga deserves renewed attention from students and lovers of literature.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Passionate Brillance 20 Nov. 1999
By Gypsy Gies - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not the type of book I would usually read. I'm not into romantics, I generally read "geeky" stuff like science fiction, popular science, and your basic information-filled things. But I do step out of my "usual" every once in awhile and read some popular fiction, or some classic lit. A friend once read a chapter of this book to me, saying: "it's like sitting at a table listening to an old woman tell a story." ..and it *is*. This has become my *favorite* book. The author translates the absolute passion of youthful love and tragic pain with a pure and beautiful intensity. Within the first few chapters it becomes easy to see why she won an award.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Sorry to say so, but... 20 July 2001
By Thomas F. Ogara - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was disappointed by "Gosta Berling." I have been a fan of Selma Lagerlof ever since I picked up an old, battered copy of the "Ring of the Lowenskjolds" ten years ago at a used book sale. For quite a few years, she was out of print and very difficult to find. I picked up a used copy of "Nils Holgersson" - a Portuguese translation, of all things - about six years ago and I enjoyed it thoroughly as well. But all along, I wanted a copy of the Holy Grail of Lagerlof books, "Gosta Berling." As soon as I noticed this reprint series available through Amazon two years ago I ordered a copy.
I'm sorry to say that I really think that the "Ring" and "Nils" are much better books. I suppose that this is heresy for a Lagerlof lover to say, but when I read "Berling" I felt that I was reading the same story over and over again every thirty pages or so. Particularly the women in the story all seemed the same - all of them young, lovely, graceful, all of them wronged (usually by Gosta), and only distiguishable by whether they were blondes or brunettes. I had trouble telling them apart, a problem that I did not have with the "Ring." It seems a strange comment to have to make about a book written by a woman.
So why four stars? Well, after all, even bad Selma Lagerlof is a whole lot better than the best of most other writers. Just let me add in conclusion that if you like "Berling", you really should read "Ring of the Lowenskjolds" too.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great! 12 July 2001
By - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book can be mystified and confusing if you end in the first chapter. But if you go on, it's full of symbolistics and imagination is needed. It's a great book, from the way the author wrote and how it is delivered. Don't be tempted to end reading it in the first chapter, because everything will be clear in the end.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
NOT "Little House on the Prairie"! 9 Sept. 2008
By Reviewer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Lagerlof's most active readership these days, in America and even in Sweden, thinks of her chiefly as the author of the children's classic about Nils and the goose. Gosta Berling's Saga is anything but a children's book. In an Old Norse sense, it IS a saga, though more rooted in the viking romances about giants and shape-changers than in the geneological realism of the Icelandic sagas. There's nothing like Gosta Berling in 19th C British literature; the closest comparison in English, I think, is to the stories of the American Nathaniel Hawthorne, who also wrote of a more "haunted" time gone by, of agitated consciences, of semi-conscious and fully malevolent forces of nature.

Gosta Berling is also anything but a novel, in the normal sense. In its conception, it's a suite of legends and family memories, probing the psychology of Lagerlof's own lost world, the Varmland of the boom times associated with the iron rush, when everybody was larger, or at least richer, than life. In this context, one might think of her work as comparable to Faulkner's or Nabokov's. But Lagerlof is the daughter of a Scandinavia that still shared its reverence of God with its conviction of the presence of Thor and Loki there in the winter darkness. Gosta Berling, in fact, is scarcely to be regarded as a human, and certainly not as a hero or anti-hero. Gosta is Loki, pure and simple, a spirit of defiance to civilized Christian propriety, who links together Lagerlof's magical tales by his omnipresence. There's a lot of Gosta Berling in Ibsen's Per Gynt, but the most brilliant heir of Lagerlof's genius is the 20th C Icelandic writer Halldor Laxness. Both Lagerlof and Laxness, by the way, were Nobel Prize winners.

Gosta Berling is funny, poignant, bitter, nostalgic, blunt and poetic. The interludes of nature writing are literally spell-binding, if one recalls the root runic meaning a a spell. It deserves a much wider readership. I read it first in Swedish, years ago, but I took up this English translation because of other reading I've been doing. The translation doesn't have the blue-haired trollish weirdness of the Swedish, but it's accurate and enjoyable.
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