The correct understanding of life, let me tell you, is love despite everything. Love despite everything, that is the aim and object of life. Love, you see, is the only thing that pays in the long run, even though it might seem a dead loss in the short run.Darien’s examination of Light:
World Light, like any of Laxness’s works… is but a boulder in a rock slide, one small part of what might be seen as a compulsive lifelong quest to fix a world to the page.So, let’s get on with a review of another Laxness book!
“Ólafur Kárason had always kept to himself and did not interfere in other people’s affairs; it sometimes also happened that he was not very familiar with his own affairs.”The sensibility of the poet is an enigma to the one person who remains with him most of his life. His wife first meets him when he is young, ill, and impressionable. She is successful in making him feel an obligation to her, and although she was is an older, worn-out woman, who has no understanding at all of art or poetry, Ólafur honors his commitment to her. She becomes his Intended, and later his wife, the mother of his children, his ball and chain. Their relationship brings nothing but misery to either of them, but The Poet never successfully breaks it off:
Had he, who had chosen her for his lot, the right to punish her—for shortcomings she couldn’t help?… he felt pity for this one more keenly than ever before, and the pity fettered him more than any love could. She was a representative of that humanity with which he himself was inextricably bound up, burdened with emotions, sensitive and sorrowful in its quest for a way out of the darkness and the severity of its origins. Was one to despise and betray this humanity, one’s own humanity, because its instinctive quest for something finer and more beautiful hadn’t succeeded?This book is much more than the story of a man, The Poet (although the story of The Poet is magnificent indeed). The story also has elements of the societal changes taking place in the early 20th, and religion, spiritualism, feminism. As the book draws to a close, Ólafur goes to meet his true love atop a glacier. As bleak as his life may be, his quest for the beautiful, divine, and eternal never ends. Ólafur is a flawed character in a flawed world, yet his odd world vision enables us to find a unique and unforgettable beauty, as well as hope.
Og fegurðin mun ríkja ein.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all