Iceland's Bell by Halldor Laxness

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By Halldor Laxness

Occasionally grim, occasionally uproarious, and continuously fascinating, Iceland’s Bell by way of Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness is right now an updating of the normal Icelandic saga and a caustic social satire. on the shut of the seventeenth century, Iceland is an oppressed Danish colony, ache lower than severe poverty, famine, and plague. A farmer and accused cord-thief named Jon Hreggvidsson makes a bawdy funny story in regards to the Danish king and shortly after unearths himself a fugitive charged with the homicide of the king’s hangman.In the years that persist with, the hapless yet resilient rogue Hreggvidsson turns into a pawn entangled in political and private conflicts enjoying out on a miles grander scale. leader between those is the star-crossed love affair among Snaefridur, referred to as “Iceland’s Sun,” a stunning, headstrong younger noblewoman, and Arnas Arnaeus, the king’s antiquarian, an aristocrat whose worldly demeanour conceals a fierce devotion to his downtrodden countrymen. As their own fight performs itself out on a global degree, Iceland’s Bell creates a Dickensian canvas of heroism and venality, violence and tragedy, charged with narrative appeal on each web page.

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The assessor, however, did not look any more likely to leave because of this, and although the bishop was becoming slightly restless and wanted to finish bestowing his blessing, the friend of the king continued to smile sympathetically at the family. “There’s nothing—unless you might want to try the bottom of my mother’s bed,” said Jón Hreggviðsson. ” said the assessor, and he took snuff from his pouch and offered some to all, including the idiot and both of the lepers. When Jón Hreggviðsson had partaken of some of this excellent tobacco it dawned on him that something must surely have become of the old pieces of skin they’d given up on trying to use to patch his breeches a few years ago.

Asked Seigneur Bendix. “Only the devil knows,” said Jón Hreggviðsson. ” This was on a Sunday. It was decided that Jón Hreggviðsson should ride to Saurbær, where he could ask some churchgoers to come and examine the body of the hangman Sigurður Snorrason as it had been found in the stream. A large group of people rode back with him out of sheer curiosity to see the dead hangman, and six said that they would be willing to swear oaths that no wounds could be seen upon the body, nor any evidence indicating that hands had been laid upon the man, except that the eyes, nostrils, and mouth were closed.

At this point, the reader can take an educated guess as to whether any of this idealism will ever come to pass. Nationalism and good literature have always been uneasy bedfellows. One seeks to enforce an ideology, the other to lay pieties bare. Laxness is aware of this and in all his characters’ rantings about the doomed dignity of poor, suffering Iceland, we sense the undertow of parody. But there must have been part of him that did write out of a sense of historical grievance and a desire that his country’s stories be heard beyond the shores of that cold, rocky island out there in the North Atlantic, a country whose landscape he so lovingly describes.

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