A book for a long July


2 August 2010, 21.15 CET

The Long Ships

I highly recommend Frans Bengtsson‘s book Röde Orm from 1941/1945, titled The Long Ships in the English translation by Michael Meyer. The translation is very readable, except for a few rough spots missed by the editors.

The book features the continual moving forward of great episodes and stories, ranging from Ireland to Spain, the Ukraine to Sweden. Although this is epic in the molds of neither Homer nor Whitman, the emphasis is, as in Homer, on cunning, negotiation, and persistence. Bengtsson’s hero blends superstition with pragmatism, boldness and perception, stubborn strength with generous friendship.

In the book Christianity is neither adored nor hated. The same is true for its description of pagan cultures, Islam, and the surprising entrance of a Jewish character.

Overall, a great read that kept me up past 3am on multiple occasions.