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Andrew Lytle's Kristin

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

Having re-read Kransen / The Wreath, the first of the Lavransdatter trilogy, I took to reading Kristin: A Reading by Andrew Lytle. Apparently Mr Lytle was a professor of literature in Florida and received a number of awards for his work. I was looking for some inspired ideas in this short (92 page) book, but was bitterly disappointed.

It could be that I am uncommonly stupid or shallow (or both), but I found this book to be pointless, bizarre, and prejudiced.

Pointless, as it in the main it was a summarising of the trilogy with little to add of any substance.

Bizarre, in that Lytle's interpretation completely ignores the author, her own thoughts on medieval society and the inner struggles of passion.

Prejudiced in that he seems to champion a return to pagan values while excoriating prelates of the Church and their supposed grip on obedience. Too much is made of the elf-maiden episode. Brother Edvin is a pagan cast out by the Church (even though the Franciscans fight to have his body returned to them and he is reputed a saint). Gunnulf, in refraining from using his gifts and education in the service of the townsfolk but embarking upon a mission to the Lapps is selfish.

While there were a few observations that were mildly helpful, the entire book left me cold, frustrated and disappointed. My only joy was that the book is as short as it is.

If you're familiar with this book and think I've missed something, I would be very happy to be enlightened!

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2 comentários

01 de nov. de 2023

Mr. Lytle was the long time editor of Sewanee Review, where he became a standard bearer of the New Criticism. He was a member of the legendary Southern Agrarian group in the 1930s. He was a cherished teacher of Flannery O'Connor and many other writers. I've read a number of his novels and stories, also much of his literary and social criticism. He's a giant of 20th century American literature. I've not read his essay on Kristin and won't be prejudiced by your views when I do.


17 de mai. de 2022

Great tip not to bother with this one!

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