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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 reviews, essays, photos, video clips, and related links about Laxness and his works in one convenient location. A separate section is devoted to each of his translated novels as well as pages devoted to other aspects of Halldór’s career. Those of us not empowered with a fluency in Icelandic or other foreign language are limited to those books listed on this site. Most are readily obtainable although Salka Valka and The Happy Warriors are extremely difficult to find and exist only in secondary translations from Swedish and Danish.
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. 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 cultural 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. Despite this fact, 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 viewpoints. In addition, there are many additional links to much more information about Laxness and his works. External links are not vetted for accuracy or copyright. All writing posted here has been carefully selected and used by permission. Images should be all fair use: if any are not, let us know.
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.