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Book Title: ისლანდიის ზარი|
The author of the book: Halldór Kiljan Laxness
Edition: ლიტერატურა და ხელოვნება
Date of issue: 1966
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 11.52 MB
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Loaded: 2780 times
Reader ratings: 7.9
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Read full description of the books:
It all starts with a church bell and a fishing line.
The first is legally removed by the Danish king and the second is borrowed by Jón Hreggvidsson, illiterate rogue and farmer.
Or are they?
Truth is both objects are robbed, just like the dignity of Icelanders when the church bell presiding the Alpingi, or national assembly where courts and government took place in Medieval Iceland, is usurped to finance the war between Denmark and Sweden.
Is this then an exalted apology to the national spirit of Icelanders after centuries of colonial exploitation under the Danish ruling? Far from it.
Following the epic tradition of the sagas, Laxness constructs a tale using three narrative voices, the ostensible criminal Jón Hreggividsson, the fair lady Snaefridur, the magistrate’s daughter, and the scholar Arnos Arnaus (based on the historical figure Árni Magnússon), and goes back to the eighteenth century to retell the stories that shaped the identity of Icelandic people.
Drunkards, wretched aristocrats and boorish crooks populate Laxness’ world and provide countless absurd situations that put Laxness’ characters in bizarre predicaments that are presented in a humorous, almost cartoonish light. Contrarily to the detached style of his prose, the themes treated in the book are anything but superficial: questions about the existing institutions, the fairness of law, trials and legal procedures, so subject to politics and superstitious tradition, the role of the state in the development of a country, the importance of folklore in the making of a national ethos or the concept of freedom are brought up in a surreptitious manner, evoking the eighteenth century French satirists and philosophers.
There is neither a whiff of glorification of the past nor of Icelanders of yore in Laxness’ terse prose, but he takes good care of his protagonists, in spite of showing the vices and weaknesses that make them look contemptible most of the time. Nevertheless, he doesn’t judge or punish them but rather depicts their actions through the prism of gallows humor, making light of serious matters without shying away from the absurd tragedies that befall on them.
My only reservation about the book, which is the reason why I couldn’t rate it any higher, is the lack of psychological nuance of the characters. They remain opaque, unreachable and distant from the reader, and unlike the other books I have read by the Icelandic laureate, there is no magical revelation or climatic ending that makes up for the bleak realism in which he drowns the reader’s hopes.
Even though the story starts out like a fable, I turned the last pages with the sad realization that this time around only dry wit would serve to fight against the inclemencies of life and love, and that high ideals are not always the appropriate weapons to win the pointless battles fuelled by pettiness and the self-deluded ambitions of the few who rule the destinies of many.
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Read information about the authorBorn Halldór Guðjónsson, he adopted the surname Laxness in honour of Laxnes in Mosfellssveit where he grew up, his family having moved from Reyjavík in 1905. He published his first novel at the age of only 17, the beginning of a long literary career of more than 60 books, including novels, short stories, poetry, and plays. Confirmed a Catholic in 1923, he later moved away from religion and for a long time was sympathetic to Communist politics, which is evident in his novels World Light and Independent People. In 1955 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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