This site is for people who have an interest in the works and life of Halldór Kiljan Laxness, the greatest Icelandic author of the 20th century. It was also created to counteract the effects of link-rot and recency bias.
How the Site Works
Each entry in the sidebar leads to a different Laxness novel or to some other aspect of his life. Laxness in Translation gathers, in one location, dozens of insightful essays about his novels, each profusely illustrated. The essays posted here explore Laxness’ work from many different cultural viewpoints. Furthermore, the numerous additional links (at the bottom of each page) are portals to worlds of additional information about Laxness and his work.
Scope of the Site
Those of us not empowered with a fluency in Icelandic or other foreign language are limited those works listed in the sidebar. Most of them are readily obtainable (although A Quire of Seven and The Honour of the House are difficult to find in affordable English language editions). The content posted on this site has been carefully selected and is used by permission. The images should all be fair use.
Problems and Promises of Translation
As I am not an expert in Icelandic to English translation, I will leave final judgment concerning the quality of the English versions of these books to experts (although you are welcome to state your opinion!) Icelandic is a very precise language, Old English has a lot of Icelandic “DNA” in its structure and vocabulary (from 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.
Solicitation for New Material
If you have any reviews, corrections, essays, appreciations, travel stories, etc., about Halldór Laxness or his books please feel free to leave a comment or email me directly. I regularly search for new Laxness content but might miss some—I am always eager to consider incorporating new work into these pages. On-topic comments (including anonymous) are always welcome.