Use the links listed in the sidebar to access material about the above titles and other topics.
This site was created for people interested in Halldór Kiljan Laxness—the greatest Icelandic author of the 20th century.
Laxness in Translation gathers in one convenient location a curated collection of dozens of insightful essays about his novels, illustrated with images and even some video clips as well. Furthermore, there are hundreds of additional links with thousands and thousands of words for further information. Each entry in the sidebar leads to a different title or some other aspect of Halldór’s writing and life. LIT was also created to counteract the effects of link-rot and recency bias.
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 new facets of Icelandic history, culture and psychology.
The essays posted here explore his work from many different cultural viewpoints. Those of us not empowered with a fluency in Icelandic or other foreign language are limited to the works in the sidebar. 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 of the content posted on this site has been carefully selected and is used by permission. The images should all be fair use.
If you have any material (reviews, corrections, essays, appreciations, travel stories, etc.,) about Halldór Laxness, leave a comment. We regularly search for new Laxness content but might miss some—we’ll be glad to consider incorporating new work into these pages. On-topic comments (including anonymous) are always welcome.