I was reading Neal Stephenson’s book Anathem when my family made its annual pilgrimage to Doe Bay Fest on Orcas Island. It was a hard book to get into in the middle of summer, but sometimes what you read and what you live integrate in the strangest ways.
On my first trip to Iceland, I naively bragged that I had read all the sagas. My listener was too polite to do more than quirk an eyebrow. Of course, I had not read all the sagas. I had read that giant paperback Penguin Classics Deluxe collection, The Sagas of Icelanders, plus The Saga of Burnt Njál. At the time, I didn’t know that more was possible.
For English speakers outside of academia, the ten sagas and assorted short stories of the Penguin compilation remains definitive. But there is another. Continue reading
I usually post on Sundays, and this Sunday is Christmas. A holiday themed post is required. But to be honest, I’m not really feeling the holidays this year. 2016, globally speaking, has been a dumpster fire. Personally, it’s been a mixed bag in which even the many good things were still very hard. After the election, I felt compelled to make the holidays extra joyful this year, but only managed to wear myself out. Judging by the number of Mordor-themed memes in my social media feed, I’m not alone in this. Continue reading
I once stood among a group of writers at a talk presented by then-Icelandic President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. He said that we would notice Iceland had no statues of presidents or generals, but had many of artists and poets.
In Reykholt, I saw a statue of a man who may have qualified as both. A big man of his time, Snorri was engaged in all sorts of power struggles and eventually died a violent death. He is also credited with preserving (and possibly writing some of) some of the world’s greatest literary treasures, Iceland’s sagas.