Group Read, May 2014: Gosta Berlings Saga

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Group Read, May 2014: Gosta Berlings Saga

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apr 30, 2014, 4:00 pm

April's There But For The Group Read has produced an interesting range of reactions. How will Selma Lagerlof's Gosta Berling's Saga fare in our May Group Read?

Redigerat: apr 30, 2014, 4:31 pm

One I've read! And recently, too, but the details are fading quickly.

If anyone wants to hear the title pronounced there is a Forvo recording here. I was a bit taken aback the first time I heard someone say the title correctly after saying Go-stah in my head for the entire book.

maj 1, 2014, 10:02 am

Put in a request for this at the library today, so I should be able to start reading in the next couple of days.

maj 1, 2014, 10:20 am

My copy, ordered weeks ago, has not yet arrived! So I'm going to start another 1001er until this one arrives, very frustrating.

maj 4, 2014, 2:54 am

I'm in! 50 pages so far and drawn into this typical Scandinavian setting. I know nothing about the book, nor the movie so I am wondering where the story will lead to. So far it feels a bit like a fairy tale but maybe that's just my perception because I used to read so many of them by Scandinavian writers when I was young. To be continued!

maj 4, 2014, 12:16 pm

#5, I'm about as far in as you are and have the same reaction. Having just finished The Enchanted Wanderer, and having totally loved Kristen Lavransdatter last year, I am finding myself cross-referencing to tales of the frozen north and enjoying it a lot.

maj 5, 2014, 10:53 am

Im starting tonight. And so far it looks very promising.

maj 5, 2014, 12:28 pm

100 pages in and I have to admit that I'm thinking: a Nobel Prize for this??

maj 6, 2014, 9:04 am

I started this last night and I have to say it has already pulled me in so I think I am going to enjoy this ride!!

maj 7, 2014, 11:18 am

250 pages in and I am getting a bit bored reading the book. I don't care much about Gosta Berling. He is a bit too one-dimensional for me, although the author (who for unknown reasons sometimes interferes with the story) tries to hide this all the time. I think I am just not buying it. A Noble Prize based on this work? I am amazed. Or do I completely overlook the themes of this book?

maj 7, 2014, 11:59 am

Of course, Nobel prizes are (usually) not handed out for single books. Gösta Berling's saga was just the first, and one of the most well known, of Lagerlöf's novels.

But to enjoy it, you probably should know a bit about the intentions. Even if it is a bit anachronistic to use the term, much of Lagerlöf's writing fits well under the label of magical realism. Gösta Berling's saga in particular has a lot of mythical qualities. Reading it as "pure" realism will probably indeed mean that it seems shallow and odd.

maj 7, 2014, 12:06 pm

# 11 thank you for filling me in, Andejons. I presumed it would be magical realistic, but that's just what I am not recognizing in the story. It seems so flat to me. I remember reading Nils Holgersson when I was a kid, which made a huge impression. I think I maybe have been expecting too much. However, I'll read the second half of the book with your remarks in the back of my mind.

maj 7, 2014, 5:02 pm

I'm a bit more than half way through and it's finally starting to catch on for me. Not my kind of book but the mythical nature of it is making things come together better. I kind of wish I'd read this before the fabulous Kristen Lavransdatter because I am seeing how some of the more, what, melodramatic aspects of that wonderful book relate to this sort of Scandinavian literature.

maj 10, 2014, 2:39 am

I finished it and in the end it catched on for me as well. Although still not overwhelmed, I do think the story in the end made a complete whole (I am afraid this is not correct English, but I can't find the right words, I hope you'll know what I mean) about good and evil, about human values and friendship, all united in and around Gosta Berling. Moreover, the book gives a wonderful description of this part of Sweden. Makes me want to visit it one day.

maj 12, 2014, 6:31 am

I'm about half way through now and starting to warm to it. I find many of the chapters start with a promising set up and then seem to peter out without anything terribly exciting happening. However maybe this makes it more realistic - the stories have a fable/myth quality about them but only occasional supernatural elements, and I suppose that makes them "magic realism". I am enjoying the sense of location.

I get the feeling this is one List book that would be much better listened to, slowly and preferably round a fire on a cold winters evening, rather than read on a rush-hour suburban train!

maj 12, 2014, 11:15 am

Interesting point Puckers -- I can see what you mean about listening slowly around a fire. Each little chapter tends to tell its own self-enclosed story and although they do all add up to a larger whole, it would be good to savor each one separately.
I'm nearly done with this now; it won't be one of my favorite books but it's interesting as a more modern effort to construct a "saga" with greater meaning.

maj 14, 2014, 3:29 am

I read through this one quite quickly and liked the 2nd half much better than the first. Maybe because I had got used to the style or because so many open threads were taken up again and in the end it all felt quite complete. I still prefer Nils Holgersson, such a fabulous work for children and adults, and I would have liked to see that one on the list.

maj 14, 2014, 8:09 am

I finished {Gosta Berling's Saga today... I liked the book, but didn't love it. I liked that it had a folk tale feel to it (it often reminded me of The Enchanted Wanderer and, at the beginning Candide.)

The folk tale feeling was also its downfall too, I thought. It was a slow read for me, mostly because the characters felt a little cardboard so it was difficult to care much about what happened to them.