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The Greenlanders (1988)

af Jane Smiley

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,1283217,436 (3.86)118
Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author Jane Smiley's The Greenlanders is an enthralling novel in the epic tradition of the old Norse sagas. Set in the fourteenth century in Europe's most far-flung outpost, a land of glittering fjords, blasting winds, sun-warmed meadows, and high, dark mountains, The Greenlanders is the story of one family--proud landowner Asgeir Gunnarsson; his daughter Margret, whose willful independence leads her into passionate adultery and exile; and his son Gunnar, whose quest for knowledge is at the compelling center of this unforgettable book. Jane Smiley takes us into this world of farmers, priests, and lawspeakers, of hunts and feasts and longstanding feuds, and by an act of literary magic, makes a remote time, place, and people not only real but dear to us.… (mere)
  1. 00
    Kristin Lavransdatter af Sigrid Undset (alaskabookworm)
  2. 00
    Den begravede kæmpe af Kazuo Ishiguro (WildMaggie)
    WildMaggie: Similar sense of foreboding in a historical setting where the important parts of the stories are the parts left unsaid.
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» Se også 118 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 32 (næste | vis alle)
The story of three generations or so of Norse families in the slowly declining Greenland settlement in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. I say "story"... Truth is, it doesn't necessarily read very much like a novel. In some places we get dialog and insights into specific characters' points of view. In other places, it reads more like an overview of history, and in others more like we're among these people listening to news from the neighbors, and all of these different things just blend seamlessly into each other, page after page.

And there are a lot of pages. Nearly 600 of them, full of the ordinary and extraordinary details of people's lives, their disputes and loves and mistakes and changes of heart, their physical and mental illnesses, their hardships and hopes and tragedies and moments of pettiness and violence and beauty. It's compelling stuff, and through it all, these people, for all their differences from us, feel absolutely like real people.

This is not a fast-reading book. It's the kind of book that really only works, I think, if you just let it unspool at its own pace and take you along for its slow but immersive ride. And you know what? I think it did me an incredible favor with that. I feel like lately I've been feeling sort of stupidly stressed about my reading life. I'm not reading as many books as usual! I'm not making sufficient progress through my out-of-control TBR shelves! Whatever I'm reading, I'm constantly distracted by thinking about what I'm going to read next! Or, rather, I was. This book just sort of demanded I let all that go and just relax and enjoy the journey. Which, after all, is what pleasure reading is supposed to be about. And whaddaya know? It worked.

Rating: Slightly to my surprise, I'm giving this one 4.5/5. Sometimes, you just get the right book at the right time, and you have to show it some appreciation for that. Plus, the ending was so poignant that it's left me with unexpected emotions that still seem to be lingering after I've turned the last page and shut the covers. ( )
1 stem bragan | Aug 24, 2023 |
Wow…that really is an epic. Very immersive in Greenlands past culture and happenings. I really enjoyed it, even if it did get tedious at points. Just, uh, spoiler alert-ish, don’t get too attached to any characters, lol. ( )
  MrMet | Apr 28, 2023 |
This is a deceptively large book. My edition has 580-something pages, but they are dense pages. It's kind of a slow burn with sluggish pacing and a meandering mode of story-telling. I've seen similar meandering story-telling in older literature and suspect Smiley is imitating the old Norse sagas or something similar. I liked the book a lot. It made me want to learn more about the culture (14th-century Greenland) she was writing about, and I frequently found myself looking up words and concepts -- wadmal, svid, Thing, tablet weaving, skraeling -- and to form a more accurate mental pictures of the landscapes and living situations of the book's inhabitants. I don't usually care all that much about characters, but I found myself invested in some of these. Smiley's story spans seasons and generations and offers a sense of both the harshness and the beauty of it all. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
I’ve no idea why I decided to read this. I must have seen an approving mention of it somewhere, because it’s not the sort of fiction that usually crosses my path or appeals to me. It is pretty much straight-up historical fiction about a community in Greenland during the early decades of the second millennium. And it’s written in a style appropriate to the material. Which means it is has a sort of saga-like approach to its story. While this gives the prose verisimilitude, it does mean that no sooner have you begun sympathising with a character then they are killed off. And then characters mentioned in passing several chapters earlier appear and occupy centre-stage in the narrative. It’s not like it’s even focused on a particular family, even over several generations, which would limit its cast and make it more manageable. It is actually a about a community, spread across several steads, into which people from other steads, often distant, are married or adopted. It gives the narrative a meandering character, which certainly suggests the annals of a mediaeval Greenlandic community, but makes for a difficult read for those expecting a story. I can’t vouch for the verisimilitude or historical accuracy, although it seemed very like what it would have been like to me based on what little I know. It’s an excellent novel but it is, to be honest, a bit of a slog, and it’s hard to feel any real empathy with any of the characters given they don’t stay around very long. Worth reading, but with caveats. ( )
  iansales | Jan 23, 2020 |
History has been something of a passion for me since I was very young and first read about the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs, the ancient temples and cities of the Aztec, the Khmer buried under jungle vines, and the crumbled ziggurats of Sumer. As I grew up I fell deep into the larger stories and overarching, serpentine narrative we call history, but always I was most attracted to the doomed and lost civilizations, the dwindling and disappearance of Norse Greenland being among them.

Historical fiction is a tricky genre and one rarely pulled off successfully, prone as it is to sensationalism, but Jane Smiley is a careful student. Not only does she seem to know as much about the realities of life, great and small, for the Greenlanders, she makes perfect use of their style; she tells their story in their own voice.

The idea of a novel written with the detached air and reporting style of the Nordic Sagas is daunting, to say the least, but the somber tone it lends to the story does it justice. From the beginning, the novel dwells on loss and the theme that even in times of prosperity, things had once been much better and brighter. There are no trees for timber, no source of iron, grains cannot grow, priests grow old; there are many things that must be replaced through distant trade. The arrival of ships becomes a rarer and rarer event, almost every season seems to bring about hardships that leave more steadings abandoned, forever.

I say that the style is detached, but that is not to say that the characters never express their feelings, on the contrary, the Greenlanders' love and enmity, envy and hope, is present along with a great solidarity that allows them to keep farming and living, whatever their hardships. It is important, too, that Smiley gives a voice to the women, their own dealings with each other and men, their sense of duty, and their own desires and failings.

'The Greenlanders' is a novel full of sadness, but its never self-pitying or melodramatic. It happens that the winters grow colder, that there is conflict with the Skraelings, that the soil no longer supports as much livestock as it once did. The bindings of law and religion, without their keepers, twist, or disappear. I can well understand why this should be one of Smiley's least-popular novels, though I haven't read anything else by her, because it is, for all its elegance, a harsh book in many ways. The contemplation of how easily situations and civilizations fall apart, leaving behind the well-meaning but doomed individual, is not something that is easily recommended to others. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
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par munu eftir, undrasmatigar, guttnar toftur, i grasi finnask, paers i ardaga, attar hofdu. Afterwards they will find the chessmen, marvelous and golden in the grass, just where the ancient gods had dropped them. "Voluspa" ("The Sayings of the Prophetess")
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This book is fondly dedicated to Elizabeth Stern, Duncan Campell, Frank Ponzi, and to the memory of Knud-Erik Holm-Pedersen.
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Asgeir Gunnarsson farmed at Gunnars Stead near Undir Hofdi church in Austfjord.
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Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author Jane Smiley's The Greenlanders is an enthralling novel in the epic tradition of the old Norse sagas. Set in the fourteenth century in Europe's most far-flung outpost, a land of glittering fjords, blasting winds, sun-warmed meadows, and high, dark mountains, The Greenlanders is the story of one family--proud landowner Asgeir Gunnarsson; his daughter Margret, whose willful independence leads her into passionate adultery and exile; and his son Gunnar, whose quest for knowledge is at the compelling center of this unforgettable book. Jane Smiley takes us into this world of farmers, priests, and lawspeakers, of hunts and feasts and longstanding feuds, and by an act of literary magic, makes a remote time, place, and people not only real but dear to us.

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