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WORLD LIGHT by Halldór Laxness


by Halldór Laxness

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-72757-4
Publisher: Vintage

Iceland’s only Nobel laureate (1902–98) has become more visible thanks to the praises sung to his work by poet-novelist Brad Leithauser, and to recent editions of the masterpieces Independent People and Paradise Reclaimed. Now comes World Light, originally published in four parts (1937–40), in time for the centenary of the author’s birth: it’s the richly woven story of the hard life, struggles with worldliness and sensuality, and moral and spiritual growth of “folk poet” Olafur Karason. The stylistic clarity and potent dramatic irony that Laxness had imbibed from the medieval Icelandic sagas are vigorously displayed in masterly tableaux depicting Olafur’s Dickensian childhood (as an orphaned parish ward), conflicted and transformative relationships with commercially and politically driven men and adoring and demanding women, and his interrupted journey toward the “world light” that draws him away from things of this world.

One of the 20th century’s greatest novels, and arguably the closest modern equivalent to the enthralling complexity of Dostoevsky.