“… the purpose of translation is to enlarge the readership of a book deemed to be important.”
~ Susan Sontag, The Saint Jerome Lecture on Literary Translation, 2002
Use the links listed in the sidebar to access material about the above titles and other topics.
This site was created for those who are interested in the English translations of the work (and life) of Halldór Kiljan Laxness, the greatest Icelandic author of the 20th century. Laxness in Translation was created to gather, in one convenient location, a curated collection of dozens of insightful reviews from around the world: novels, essays, images, video clips, all relating to Laxness, as well as hundreds of links for further exploration. Each separate section listed in the sidebar is devoted to different aspects of Halldór’s writing and life.
Translation is an art form in itself. Any final judgment concerning the English versions of these books can be left to experts (although you are welcome to state your opinion!) Icelandic is a very precise language and English has a lot of Icelandic “DNA” in its structure and vocabulary (from its roots in Old Norse) which should allow for a good conversion. That said, however, the biggest problem with reading Laxness in translation is that his writing is so deeply steeped in Icelandic culture that those of us who are not native Icelanders miss many of the references. It has been written that Laxness has done more to shape the Icelandic sense of national identity than any other author has for any other culture. On the other hand, reading Laxness—even in translation—exposes those of us who are “útlendir” to many facets of Icelandic history, culture and psychology. The essays on this site explore these books in depth from many different cultural viewpoints. Those of us not empowered with a fluency in Icelandic or other foreign language are limited to those books reviewed on this site. Most of them are readily obtainable (although Salka Valka, A Quire of Seven, and The Honour of the House are difficult to find in affordable English language editions), all material posted here has been carefully selected and is used by permission. All of the images should be “fair use.”
If you have original material (reviews, corrections, essays, appreciations, travel stories, etc.,) about Halldór Laxness, leave a comment (with a link, if possible.) We’ll be glad to consider incorporating it into these pages.
On-topic comments (including anonymous) are always welcome.