The Long Ships

Author Bengtsson, Frans G.
Original title Röde Orm
Original language Swedish
ISBN 91-7642-225-9
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Project Gutenberg
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Unfortunately, Röde Orm is one of those books that are difficult to imagine in any kind of translation. Frans G. Bengtsson’s language combines the drolly laconic with the casually archaic in a manner that flows beautifully and is a joy to read, while putting the reader firmly in a mindset of times gone by—in an eminently Swedish manner, to boot. How can such a book be translated, when the texture of its prose is so large a part of it?

Not only is it dubious whether this can ever be done satisfactorily, but to make matters worse, the one person I know who’s read the book in translation informed me that the translation was in fact pretty bad. Still, she managed to quite enjoy the book in spite thereof. Worth checking out, and if you can read Swedish, this is a must-read.

  • I’ve read the original Swedish version.