Sigrid Undset

Banquet speech

Sigrid Undset’s speech at the Nobel Banquet at Grand Hôtel, Stockholm, December 10, 1928


The preceding speakers have far better expressed our gratitude for the Prizes awarded to us than I could have done, and I subscribe to their words. I write more readily than I speak and I am especially reluctant to talk about myself. Instead, I wish to offer a salute to Sweden. Before I left for Sweden, a party was given for me – that is to say, not strictly speaking for me but because I was going to leave for Sweden – and everybody, the President of the Council of Ministers of Norway as well as my personal friends, asked me to give regards to Sweden. After all, the people of our peninsula form a distinct part of the world. Our forests and our mountains run into each other and our rivers carry their waters from one country to the other. Our houses in Norway resemble those in Sweden. God be praised! We have always lived in a great number of small, private dwellings spread all over our countries. Modern technology has not yet completely intruded on the humanity of the North.

But what I wished to say here is that I have been asked to give regards to Sweden, the country we think of with joy, and to Stockholm, which we Norwegians consider the most beautiful city in the world.

Prior to the speech, Professor Gösta Forssell addressed these remarks to the laureate: «In her extensive work, an Iliad of the North, Sigrid Undset has resurrected in a new and visionary light the ideals which once guided our forefathers who built that community from which our Germanic culture derived. To an age in which it may be easier to acknowledge that the right to the greatest happiness is the duty of renunciation – to this age Sigrid Undset has shown the ideals of our forefathers: duty and faithfulness.»

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969


Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1928

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