The Daily


A Panorama of ‘Gunnar’s Daughter’

May 10, 2012 | by

A ten-foot-tall panel illustrating the 1909 Norwegian novel by Sigrid Undset. Now largely forgotten, Undset won the Nobel Prize in 1928. I think her books deserve more attention. Gunnar’s Daughter was published a century ago but takes place in the Middle Ages and has all the great dark and bizarre appeal of Icelandic legend recycled for an Edwardian audience ready to be shocked. Click in and scroll down for the whole story.


Jason Novak works at a grocery store in Berkeley, California, and changes diapers in his spare time.



  1. Greenwhale | May 10, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I picked up “Kristin Lavransdatter,” also set in the medieval Norway, on a whim one winter and, once in, couldn’t put it down. Undset’s writing is clear and sharp, unencumbered by overzealous efforts at historical accuracy. Her characters are real people you want to get to know. The way they think and act might sometimes seem strange to a modern reader, but Undset renders them with an attention and sympathy that makes their lives utterly absorbing.

  2. Michael Lucero | May 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I don’t get it. I’ve read that book, and I don’t recognize any of the scenes I remember in this.

  3. Jason Novak | May 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    You didn’t recognize any of the scenes at all? Granted, I wasn’t able to include everything, but the dream Vigdis has where she’s wading in a pool of lost babies while Christ watches from the banks, or where her son battles the picts from his ship as they crowd upon the shore, or where he slays and beheads his father at the end? Those were standouts for me, and I included all of them. There are two other key scenes I neglected to include out of modesty. First, the rape scene. I couldn’t do it. Or the birth scene, where Vigdis goes into labor while clutching a mule alone in the wilderness. Those scenes reach beyond my powers as a cartoonist.

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