Day two of my Iceland trip started with breakfast on the top floor of the hotel before meeting with our guide in the hotel lobby. We loaded up into a small bus and started our trek of the Golden Circle.
The first stop was part of our literary tour. These stops usually were for our group alone and they all had knowledgeable speakers. This day we stopped at the home of Halldor Laxness (winner of the Novel Prize for Literature in 1955). The home and farm, Gljufrasteinn, had been in his family for more than half a century. Now it is open to the public as a museum.
A specialist on Laxness’ life gave us a rundown of his life as a child, adult, and into his later years as well as his frame of mind on each step of his literary works.
Our next stop reminded me of the history of American Indians. While it might be a far stretch for some, as we stood at Thingvellir, the open-air assembly area where the chieftains of each clan and many of their followers would meet for two weeks every year to settle disputes, I thought of the gatherings of American tribes as they traded and discussed the coming of changes. This assembly would set laws that all men would abide by. And it was here that the decision to convert from paganism to Christianity came, although they said they would live and believe as Christians to make the King of Denmark happy, they also agreed that they could still carry on some of their pagan ways as long as no one knew about it.
Their were mounds that revealed where “booths” of huts were built that people lived in while at the assembly for two weeks. Around 50 fragments of these booths built from stone and turf are visible. This is now a National Park and is visited by many tourists each year. But I could see the Icelanders of the 10th century meeting here- rowdy, loud, and demanding their quarrels be settled.
This was a long day- I’ll tell you more in the next two posts.
2 thoughts on “Iceland Trip- part two”
Very cool, learning about Haldor Laxxness’ frame of mind on each step of his literary works throughout his life. Did you feel he had the same themes throughout but where he was in his life made him look at that differently. I know those who write more social-commentary fiction tend to be very idealistic and assertive in their writing when they are young and in the old age some become more philosophical and take the long view, while others become even more aggressive like it is a last shout of resistance.
Interesting about the mounds and chieftains. DH and I saw a lot of that in Ireland and Scotland as well. And there were Native Americans who were mound builders in the U.S.–primarily in the south western U.S. It seems that at particular times of history many of these same ways of living were being played out all over the world. As to how peaceful or warring the decision-making becomes seems to also be related to the size of territory and the numbers of other tribal groups that seek more territory.
I didn’t know very much about Laxness before the tour. In his younger years, he was a communist sympathizer and had visited dignitaries in those countries. Later in his works, he wrote stories that were an apology to the Icelandic people that he could have believed that communism was the correct way to live. So as he grew older, he did become more open minded. Or as the person giving the speech said, Laxness realized he needed to change his thinking if he wanted to sell books and live from his writing.
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