Nobel Prize to Halldór Laxness

1955

Halldór Laxness (1902 – 1998) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955 for ‟vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland.“ Laxness is the only Icelandic writer to receive the Nobel Prize to date.

Halldór Laxness was born in Reykjavík on April 23, which happens to be the UNESCO World Book Day. He was an incredibly productive and ambitious writer, publishing his first novel in 1919 at the tender age of seventeen. His first major novel though was The Great Weaver from Kashmir (1927), which is considered one of the starting points of Icelandic modernism in literature.

Laxness wrote fifteen novels, some published in more than one volume, including Independent People (1934-1946), which is possibly his best known work on an international level, World Light (1937-1940), Atom Station (1948) and Gerpla (1952). With Gerpla, he taps into the Sagas, basing his novel partly on the Saga of the Sworn Brothers and writing in that style. The tone is ironic and Laxness makes fun of the hero worship and violence of the period, a satyre with tragic undertones.

Laxness also wrote plays, poetry, short stories and a great number of articles on literature, culture and social issues. Books by Halldór Laxness have been translated into more than forty languages and many of his novels have been adapted for the stage and the screen.

Nobel Prize website.

Gljúfrasteinn, the House of Halldór Laxness  in the greater Reykjavík area is open to the public.