Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Halldor Laxness

My mother is currently reading Salka Valka by Halldor Laxness (1902-1998), the Icelandic writer who won the Nobel Prize in 1955. This book was given to her in 1956 by her brother Tom, who "read everything." (he also introduced me to Anais Nin and Doris Lessing). You can find a review of the book here.

He won the Nobel for Independent People from which comes this quote:

Come what may and go what may, a man always has the memories of his dogs. Of these at least no one can deprive him, though both the prosperity of world war and the fulfilment of important people's ideals have proved to be no more than a cloud of dust that has swirled up to obscure the lone worker's vision.

The Los Angeles Times (Richard Rayner) reviews The Fish Can Sing here. The New York Times (Annie Dillard) reviews Independent People here.

From his obituary in the NY Times:
He remained entranced by the power of the Icelandic epics. ''Some things in literature are inexplicable,'' he said in 1982, when he was 80. ''Who would have thought that this barren hell would have produced one of the great literatures of the world?''

Just weeks before she died, Susan Sontag completed the foreword to Laxness' Under the Glacier, translated by Magnus Magnusson. Reprinted in the New York Times, it can be found here.

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