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Gösta Berling's Saga

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,891 ratings  ·  179 reviews
The first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, Lagerlöf assured her place in Swedish letters with this 1891 novel. The eponymous hero, a country pastor whose appetite for alcohol and indiscretions ends his career, falls in with a dozen vagrant Swedish cavaliers and enters into a power struggle with the richest woman in the province.

The book has a Faustian theme
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Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 18th 2004 by Dover Publications (first published 1891)
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3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,891 ratings  ·  179 reviews


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Aubrey
The moon rose, and the loveliest time of night came.
The moon poured down her light from the pure blue
High arch of heaven over the leaves of the terrace.
At our feet a lily shivered in its urn;
And gold light rose from its chalice.
We had all come to sit on the stairs,
Both the old ones and young, silent
In order to let the emotions take up
The old tunes in the loveliest time of night.
I do not mourn for the stories told around the fire like those of previous generations do, for I was not the one who
...more
Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Issicratea
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
I had literally never heard of Selma Lagerlöf, the first female winner of the Nobel Prize for literature (in 1909), before a Swedish friend recently recommended her to me. This may just be evidence of my personal ignorance, but I suspect she doesn’t have that much name recognition in the English-speaking world generally, despite the fact that many of her books have long been available in English translation (in the case of Gösta Berling's Saga, since 1894.)

Gösta Berling’s Saga was Lagerlöf’s deb
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Orient
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who would like to test themselves
Shelves: historical, awful
It was hard for me to judge the translation without knowing the book in the original. That's why I have to look at it as to any other book. And, what do I find:
1. effortlessly gloomy plot (some gothical spices to Scandinavia)
2. some black humour (hardly enough to change the situation to better)
3. mexican soap opera (Gosta, "the lord of love", the sinful former priest, wanders full of self-pity and gay (yep the biggest part of this book is overflooded with this word so beware, this word is infect
...more
Adam
Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of magical realism, fables & Victorian literature
Are the new caretakers of Ekeby twelve worthless drunks or twelve worthy, heroic figures fallen on hard times? By the novel's end, both possibilities seem true, and their leader is the most complicated of all the men--a young defrocked minister and lady's man named Gosta Berling. The men have made a contract with the devil in human form and have been granted the run of the Ekeby estate for a full year. Over the course of the year, Gosta experiences epic love no less than three times, and every m ...more
dely
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 0-sweden
I didn't enjoy that much this book. The beginning was interesting and I thought that the book would have talked about Gösta Berling, a disavowed priest, and his adventures. It talked about him, but the whole story wasn't flowing: every chapter was a kind of short story. I may say that the book is made by many episodes with several characters, all equalliy important though Gösta Berling is the "gravity center". So some chapters are dedicated to Gösta's friends and these chapters didn't add anythi ...more
Erin
Mar 02, 2008 rated it liked it
How Strikingly Beautiful He Was: A Review of Gosta Berling's Saga
The Varmland of Gosta Berling's Saga made me crave a word that would be in all ways synonymous with the word "exotic" except that the word I want would replace connotations of south tinged with oriental with connotations of north tinged with occidental. I'm not sure what exact location Western Culture can be given but it seems reasonable to posit that if it could be pinpointed Varmland would fall far enough north of there to quali
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Lene Fogelberg
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a young girl growing up in Sweden, I loved to read Nobel laureate Lagerlöf, and I was captivated with her ability to weave mysticism into her stories. She often let the reader determine the driving force behind her story, and this was long before paranormal literature became the huge genre it is today. I remember wishing I could write like that, and I believe she was the one who taught me to trust the reader and to let readers interpret the story in their own way.
Jo
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having never heard of Selma Lagerlof before hearing about the Nobel Women project started by Britta Bohler (NobelWomen on Goodreads), I had no idea what to expect of her writing but I enjoyed it nevertheless. The Saga is really a book of interconnected short stories linking the inhabitants of Varmaland a small village in Sweden, the manor house of Ekeby in that village and the cavaliers who live there, particularly Gosta Berling.

There is a fable like quality to the writing with lots of anthropo
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Linda
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book, written by Selma Lagerlöf, takes place in her beloved Värmland, in Sweden, in the 1820’s. The main character, Gösta Berling, a deposed priest, is saved from dying from hunger and cold by the Mistress of Ekeby. He then becomes one of the pensioners at the mansion.

The book, which is Selma Lagerlöf’s debut novel, was published in 1891. Selma Lagerlöf was a very famous Swedish author and the first woman who received the Nobel Prize in literature.

The book contains more romanticism than the
...more
Bryn Hammond
These tales gather in sophistication. They seem almost crude at first.

My Penguin translation of 2011 seems to struggle to describe this work, and I do too. ‘Sweeping historical epic’, in the book description, won’t do for this interweave of stories, and if, like me, you look askance at the ‘string of women who fall under Gösta's spell’, you may, like me, yet be glad you pursued your curiosity nevertheless. The back of my book even sells it as ‘the Swedish Gone With the Wind’. Plot fiends who ex
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Katy
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting collection of stories of people in a region in Sweden. Mixing the superstitions of folklore with the trials of life makes for an interesting tale.
Sverre
This book is a great work of art from many readers’ points of view. Probably it is, but one should probably be somewhat suspicious when a Swedish author received a Nobel Prize, awarded by a Swedish committee consisting of privileged academics. I grew up hearing about this book, and, coincidentally, my grandmother came from Värmland, the setting of the book. For decades I had ignored this work so its time had come—or so I thought. Well, as it turned out, I should have resisted longer.

This is not
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Virtuella
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the most charming and intriguing books that I've read in a long time. Not exactly a novel, rather a collection of (sometimes closely, sometimes loosely) linked short stories; I've never seen anything quite like it. I loved the ambivalence of it, floating between folk tale and family anecdote, and how sometimes a later story would throw a different light on something that was said earlier. I enjoyed how various characters took centre stage in turn and appeared later as minor players in som ...more
tortoise dreams
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stories of love and adventure involving rich and not, lovely and not, brave and not, in the Värmland region of Sweden, mostly tied together by our eponymous protagonist.

Book Review: The Story of Gösta Berling is told as a collection of folk tales transmuted into a novel. Some of the tales involve our hero Gösta Berling, but many don't. Gösta Berling reminded me of so many other stories: One Hundred Years of Solitude, "The Lottery," Tortilla Flat, The Birds, perhaps a touch of the Byronic hero (h
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pedro andrade
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel
First contact to the first Woman to have won a Lit. Nobel, was pretty cool. It was the fourth attempt to read it, and it aid off, although the translations seemed to me a bit shaky.
Also, for a second edition, its unthinkable to find typos, but hey, that's just me.
Read Selma. She can teach you a lot.
Svalberd
An exceptional tale of strife, love, magic, and religion. Very well written, although I am sure the original Swedish edition is much more flowing and wonderful. To the point, the author really pulls me in with her poetic language and then crafts in a rather thoughtful story within that. Lagerlöf has the perfect ratio of dialogue to description, and I can see her bringing these words to life in some quiet study with the light on at midnight. She seems to take pieces from her own life and age and ...more
A. J. McMahon
Nov 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author won the Nobel Prize for Literature for this novel, so maybe it reads better in the original Swedish, or it might be that I just couldn't get into the cultural mind-set of late nineteenth century Sweden, but I came to greatly dislike this book long before I managed to get to the end of it. The book begins with Gosta Berling being defrocked as a minister due to him being a drunkard. The book continues with a succession of chapters, which constitute more a series of short stories than th ...more
Ebbs
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, canon
This book is a very slow read, but so worth it!
Manny
Nov 27, 2008 rated it really liked it

Larger-than-life Swedish epic, with some great images. Not sure how well her beautiful poetic Swedish translates though - maybe this is why the book is virtually unknown in English.
Marissa
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't expect this book to be anything special. I actually stumbled upon it while researching some genealogy. One of my great great grandmothers had come to America in 1905 from the Värmland province in Sweden and the family line goes back there at least to the 1750s. This book is set in Värmland in the ....1830s or 40s maybe? And is supposedly recalling some of the local history and folklore. So I began to read it mainly for a glimpse into the lives of my ancestors. But I ended up being total ...more
Susan
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Selma Lagerlof was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature so I have always been curious about her work but had never given it the time it deserved. The Saga of Gosta Berling one of her most well known works is an unexpected surprise-a series of morality tales with a heavy dose of magic realism.

The reader follows Gosta Berling a defrocked Minister-he leaves due to his requiring alcohol to avoid the poverty and starkness of his position to being saved by the Majoress and becoming on
...more
Aldo Marchioni
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first, I had an impression of a book for children, written in a childish style. My impression was, if I had grandchildren, I could read this book at bedtime.
However, as the reading was progressing, maybe I was getting used to the style, maybe the subject of the tales that, put together, make the novel, were growing more "adult", I felt in love whit this book.
All the time it is in somewhere between reality, fantasy, magic, fairy tale ...
Some hundred years later, somebody invented the expressi
...more
Andrei
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I am new to this author, motivated by her Nobel prize won. I had high expectations on this novel and they were met from the first pages. I admit it was harder to understand that it is a fictional book with a fictional story (what am I talking... most books are fictional). This author really has a strong imagination! The novel can be regarded as well as a collection of short stories connected between them. It is also hard to fit this work into a certain genre, it has romance, fantasy, magic even ...more
Loukas Tatidis
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot, there is a lot of surrealism in it and Lagerlöf handles it great. Parts are very poetic also. One could ask, why write a love novel that has a supernatural and surreal angle? Well the current impact of the whole vampire genre trend may provide an answer to this question. You need to be open minded if you want to enjoy this book, if you want realism you might as well never mind. A fun reflection is that Lagerlöf creates a male counterpart of a harem with the Cavaliers of ...more
Milena Stoyanova
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just closed the final page of this book.
I began reading Saga of Gösta Berling, because it is one of my mother's most favourite books.
I have never read such a story, written so beautifully,every word is blossoming in your mind and you see the landscapes, you feel the the cold harsh winter, the warmth of Midsumer, you hear the roaring waves, the hammering, the sleigh bells..You suffer along side with the characters on their jounrey.After every chapter, I had to stop for a while and reflect of wh
...more
Mila
May 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
For starters: Selma, what the Finns have ever done to you?

The entire reading process was painful for me, I just couldn't push myself to go on with it and it's a compulsory reading for my class. This book is a mess and I genuinely enjoyed maybe one or two chapters out of over 30 of them. Just. No don't.
Tobias Hallberg
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I felt like the book is filled with random short stories written in a quite hard language (might also have been the old Swedish language that made me confused). Luckily this wasn't my first Selma book, so I'm still excited about her other books :-)
Shay
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
The vignettes are interesting, but the book suffers from a dull translation, making it hard to read get into.
Kim Becker
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting dry, dull, antiquated writing. Not sure why... But Lagerhof completely surprised me! This is an early example of experimental fiction, with magical realism included. I was so wrong in my assumption...this book was quenched in description and beautiful narrative!

Gosta Berling is such a striking character -- struggling within to live up to his own expectations of a minister, and fighting the "sin within". He seems to be one of those men who is truly a good, true man; however, he i
...more
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Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf (1858-1940) was a Swedish author. In 1909 she became the first woman to ever receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings". She later also became the first female member of the Swedish Academy.

Born in the forested countryside of Sweden she was told many of the
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“Have you ever seen a child sitting on its mother’s knee listening to fairy stories? As long as the child is told of cruel giants and of the terrible suffering of beautiful princesses, it holds its head up and its eyes open; but if the mother begins to speak of happiness and sunshine, the little one closes its eyes and falls asleep with its head against her breast. . . . I am a child like that, too. Others may like stories of flowers and sunshine; but I choose the dark nights and sad destinies.” 38 likes
“Fjärilar skola veta att dö medan solen skiner.” 8 likes
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