Tour the House of Iceland’s Lone Nobel Laureate

I’ll bet that you can’t name Iceland’s only Nobel Prize winner for literature.

Go ahead. Give it a long think.

Stumped? Does the name Halldór Laxness ring a bell?

I had never heard of Iceland’s most famous scribe until I was preparing for a visit and decided to bone up on the local literature. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that someone from this tiny nation of less than 300,000 had been bestowed with such an honor. And so, I picked up his most famous book, Independent People, and gave it a try. To tell you the truth, I found it very difficult to get through and still have a bookmark where I stopped, some hundred pages from the end.

That’s not to say I hated it. In this particular book, Laxness displays a gift for describing the hard, difficult, and lonely life faced by the country’s sheep farmers at the turn of the century and, more specifically, the strong resolve of protagonist Bjartur of Summerhouses. I feel so very bad, having left him stranded in the snow where I stopped reading. One day I will continue and extricate him from the situation.

Anyway, I digress. The reason I bring up Laxness is because of an outstanding house museum dedicated to his life and works. I unfortunately did not visit it while in Iceland, but after reading a nice write-up in Iceland Review, I most certainly wish I had; there is something so magical about visiting house museums where great authors lived and wrote and this one seems particularly magical. I will be sure to finish reading one of his works, however, before paying it a visit.