In my career as a reader I have encountered only three people who knew The Long Ships, and all of them, like me, loved it immediately. Four for four: from this tiny but irrefutable sample I dare to extrapolate that this novel, first published in Sweden during the Second World War, stands ready, given the chance, to bring lasting pleasure to every single human being on the face of the earth.
It offers, therefore—as you might expect from a novel with the potential to please every literate human being in the entire world—something for everyone, and if until now The Long Ships has languished in the second-hand bins of the English-speaking world, this is certainly through no fault of its author, Frans Bengtsson, whom the reader comes to regard—as we come to regard any reliable, capable and congenial companion in the course of any great novel, adventure, or novel of adventure—as a friend for life.
The fault, therefore, must lie with the world, which as any reader of The Long Ships could tell you, buries its treasures, despises its glories, and seeks contentment most readily in the places where it is least likely to be found.
When she looked back at the map of it, like most true adventurers, she saw moments of joy, glints of gold, and happy chances like the one that brought this book into her hands.
That is the great adventure, of course, that reading holds over what we call “real life.” Adventure is a dish that is best eaten takeout, in the comforts of one’s own home.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.