Gljúfrasteinn is nestled in a large, lovely valley with imposing mountains nearby, across the road from Laxnes horse farm. Laxness's name, a pseudonym he took in 1923, means “of Laxnes.”
First we walk around through the gardens to the back of the house, and have our picnic lunch on a bench in an alcove shaded by small birches and wildflowers. The nearby stream tumbles over smooth boulders and forms myriad small waterfalls.
The house itself is elegantly plain: medium sized, white plaster with lots of windows. It isn’t a showplace; it's a house meant to be lived in. The original furnishings, art, music and books are still in place, so it's very easy to imagine Laxness and his family living here. The audio tour is excellent: it is less obtrusive than a tour guide, and the recording includes the voices of Laxness and his wife. You can stand in his study, see the desk he stood at to write, look out the window at the very view that he saw daily. You can enter his bedroom, and see the art and objects he kept close to him. You can see his Steinway piano—the very same one that Bill Holm has played. When I see the grandfather clock in the hallwa—ticking E-TER-NI-TY---(the one that the clock in The Fish Can Sing was modeled on) my throat closes up and I choke back tears.
Paradise Found and Lost Again
Excerpt from Stephen’s 2012 trip diary:
Friday was an absolutely perfect day for a bike ride. Warm in the sun, cool in the shade, very little wind.
I thought I would undertake the 30km trip to Gljúfrasteinn, in Mosfellsdalur, to the preserved home of the Nobel Prize winning writer Halldór Laxness.
The stucco-clad Laxness home is modest and very Scandinavian, almost to the point of being severe. After paying admission in the garage-turned-visitors center, it is a short walk to its elegant front door that welcomes pilgrims.
The outdoor swimming pool is the only luxury on the grounds:
The guide was familiar with the Laxness in Translation Site and we talked a great deal about Laxness and his work. The inside is exactly as it was when Laxness lived there;
I was even given a special glimpse of the kitchen.
I managed to sneak this pic of the master’s study:
HKL's study, Gljúfrasteinn
The trip back held many photogenic vistas:
I did manage to get hopelessly confused as to which path I should take (I took a different route on my return trip) but was finally straightened out with the help of this Viking compass:
Somewhere near Mosfellbaer
After I finally managed to drag myself back to the apartment, I ate dinner then went
to the pool.
For some reason, the hot tub felt especially good tonight.