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Visit to Norway

The Octagon in Nidarosdommen, Trondheim. This is the oldest part of the Scandinavia's greatest cathedral and where the relics of St Olav were venerated by pilgrims.

It's been almost a month since I returned from a recent four weeks' stay in Norway. The purpose of the visit was to improve my fluency in Norwegian (to help with translating), to connect with a number of academics there, have some great conversations about Sigrid Undset and - of course - enjoy the beautiful scenery of this beautiful country.

I am particularly glad to have spent several hours with Jan Frederik Solem, who knows everything about Undset and the Dominicans; and also Liv Bliksrud, retired literature professor at the University of Oslo, who is an expert in all things Undsettian. I am eternal indebted to Liv for collecting Undset's various articles, essays, polemics and controversies which form the basis of my thesis.

Liv Bliksrud with her dog, Sir Toby, under the statue of Sigrid Undset in Stensparken (Oslo)

It was nothing short of providence that I was also able to meet Tordis Ørjasæter, author of the one of the most famous biographies on Undset (Menneskenes Hjerter), and the delightful Kristin Brandtsegg Johansen, head of the Sigrid Undset Society

in Norway. The meeting with these latter two was occasioned by a visit to Kristine Dingstad, head of publishing at St Olav Press. I crashed their discussion on Tordis' and Kristin's collection of Sigrid Undset's pieces on Christmas, Kimer i Klokker: Sigrid Undset's Jul, which was to be released a few days later in time for the great feast.

A few days previous to this, I was present at the launch of Segl, a large annual magazine of Catholic humanism. Four excellent speaker presenting on various topics and I was glad for a lengthy chat with one of Norway's foremost public voice, Eivor Oftestad.

My visit in the south began in Eidsvoll, with music teacher extraordinaire, Anna Rögnvaldsdöttir, originally from Iceland. We spent many wonderful hours discussing classical music and music pedagogy. Then in Oslo, staying with Nina, Leopold, Maria and Philip Orlinski afforded me the opportunity to speak a good deal of Norwegian. Mission accomplished, there! I am very grateful to the artiste Nina for taking me through the National Gallery, for hosting a wonderful Dickensonian soirrée by candlelight, and - not least - for introducing me to the beautiful poetry of Wegerland. I will be forever in debt for the hospitality received in Eidsvoll and Oslo!

Photo of Nordlys (the Northern Lights) taken the night of my tour. Had there been no full moon, the night would have been more yet more spectacular.

After Oslo, it was north to Tromsø, where I was able to see the Northern Lights in

their splendour. Here it was polar night, with no sunrise at all - just some twighlight for a couple of hours in the middle of the day. At 2.30pm, it was pitch black again. It was quite unusual, feeling as though it was 9.00pm only to realise it was no later than 3.00pm!

The final week was spent as a guest at the cathedral parish of Trondheim (medieval Nidaros) where I gratefully enjoyed the hospitality of Bishop Erik Varden (who's blog makes for great reading) and Fr Egil Mogstad, a very fine priest.

Left to right: the author of this blog with Bishop Erik Varden (who continues to wear his Cistercian habit) and parish priest Fr Egil Mogstad.

It was also a pleasure to meet the Catholic youth - many of them students - in Trondheim, to attend the anniversary celebrations of Caritas Norge, and to have a long conversation with Undset-lover, Solfrid.

Upon return to the parish where I am in residence while I complete my thesis, I was plunged into preparations for Christmas and the subsequent solemnities and festivities, which only not have abated since the twelfth day of Christmas behind us. Now there are no excuses - I have to get back to the books, many of which I brought back with me from Norway. (There was a week of some anxiety, when the bag with my newly purchased books did not appear at baggage collection. After six days, the bag was delivered ruined, but fortunately the books were undamaged.)

I hope to return to Norway in 2023 or 2024 to follow up some loose ends and visit my new friends. In the meantime, I have a lot more reading, translating and writing to do. Thank you all, for your support!

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1 comentário

10 de jan. de 2023

Dear Fr. Arthur! I will follow your proceedings with great interests! God bless your work! Anna Rögnvaldsdóttir

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