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Travel Light with The Varangs' Saga
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In her novels, Naomi Mitchison frequently tackled serious issues, war and peace, conflicts of loyalties, freedom and slavery, and of course feminism. But a very few times she allowed her work to be primarily a question of fun, or play. In Travel Light (1952) she wrote a charming fairy tale in which a king's daughter was saved from death as a baby, then successively lived with bears and dragons. It is set in a Never Land which is nonetheless gently Norse, where Odin, the All-Father, 'made men in order to amuse himself'. In the course of her journey, Halla becomes perhaps the most individual Valkyrie in literature. This edition also contains The Varangs' Saga, a previously unpublished holiday entertainment from 1926, where most of the fun comes from describing young British couples with children on a group holiday in France, but describing them in the manner of an Old Norse saga. Mitchison wrote: 'Play is absolutely necessary to everyone: we are the kind of animal that plays.'
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Naomi Mitchison [1897-1999] was a literary phenomenon. Tireless in her writing, and unafraid and often highly unconventional in her opinions, she left an extraordinary legacy. The Naomi Mitchison Library publishes her most significant works of fiction and biography, as well as background material and commentary. Isobel Murray is Emeritus Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of Aberdeen.

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