By Peter Hallberg
Translated by Rory McTurk
Twayne Publishers :: New York, 1971
My infatuation with Halldór Laxness continues unabated. My most recent acquisition is this biography of Halldór Laxness which was written in the late sixties by a Norse scholar from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. In contrast to Halldór Guðmundsson's expansive 2008 biography The Islander, Hallberg’s approach starts from the “inside”—through an examination of Laxness’ novels and other significant writings. It has less coverage of the man’s personal life, but offers much more insight into his work. Hallberg’s close reading of The Great Weaver from Kashmir, for example, paints a vivid portrait of the artist as a young man as seen through the themes of the novel. Pertinent quotes and excerpts from Laxness’ essays and correspondence of the time show a deep understanding of how Laxness developed as a writer and a thinker. All of his novels up through Paradise Regained are covered here in similar detail, demonstrating how Laxness used contrasting positions within a scene to illuminate a social or philosophical issue. Liberal quotes from his essays are also included—an important part of Laxness’ literary output which has not yet been translated into English.
This is a great companion to the Guðmundsson book, even if Hallberg’s coverage ends just before the publication of Under the Glacier. It is usually available through ABE or Amazon books.
More at Laxness in Translation...