Halldór Laxness

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Halldór Laxness (1955)

Halldór Kiljan Laxness  [ ˈhaltour ˈcʰɪljan ˈlaxsnɛs ] (born as Halldór Guðjónsson ; born April 23, 1902 in Reykjavík , † February 8, 1998 in Reykjalundur near Mosfellsbær ) was an Icelandic writer and Nobel Prize winner for literature . Please click to listen!Play


Gljúfrasteinn, Laxness' house since 1945; now the Laxness Museum
Halldór Laxness's house and car in Mosfellsbær

Halldór Laxness was born as Halldór Guðjónsson . His parents were Guðjón Helgi Helgason and Sigríður Halldórsdóttir. Since he came from a wealthy family, he was able to complete his education through numerous trips. On the continent, he got to know Catholicism and converted . He chose the name Kiljan when he converted to Catholicism on January 6, 1923 in the Benedictine monastery of St. Maurice de Clervaux in Luxembourg , after the Irish martyr and Saint Kilian . He took the surname Laxness after the farm Laxnes (Eng. "Salmon Peninsula") at Mosfellsbær , where he grew up.

In 1930 he married Ingibjörg Einarsdóttir. 1945 began his second marriage to Auður Sveinsdóttir and he moved to Gljúfrasteinn in Mosfellsdalur on Þingvallavegur S36 .

His oeuvre includes numerous novels and plays, and he was often active as a journalist. His works have been translated into numerous languages. His granddaughter Auður Jónsdóttir is also a writer.

Halldór Laxness died at the age of 95 and was buried in the Mosfellskirkja cemetery in Mosfellsdal.


Major works and characteristics

Laxness' journeys to the continent can be recognized in his early novel The Great Weaver of Kashmir (1927), which has influences from Expressionism and Surrealism and, on the other hand, is occasionally reminiscent of the early Thomas Mann .

Significant works by Laxness are Salka Valka (1931/32), His own Herr (1934–36) and Weltlicht (1937–40). In his own master is about a stubborn small farmers who did not want to give up despite widrigster circumstances its independence (the Icelandic title is Sjálfstætt fólk , German "independent people"). In Weltlicht , he describes the life of a man from the simplest of backgrounds who desperately wants to become a writer and therefore has to fight against many prejudices from those around him.

A well-known book Laxness' is the novel The Icelandic Bell (Icelandic: Íslandsklukkan , 1943–46). Based on historical figures from the time around 1700, such as the linguist Árni Magnússon , it firstly describes the only occasionally happy love story between the scholar and manuscript collector Arnas Arnaeus and the beautiful judge's daughter Snæfríður, and secondly the decades-long trial against the peasant who has been washed away Jón, who has been charged with murder and who has been fleeing across Europe for years. This part of the novel recalls famous picaresque novels like Grimmelshausen's Simplicissimus Teutsch . Both parts are closely linked to each other and to the social and political situation in Iceland at the time; Arnaeus' struggle for the preservation of Icelandic manuscripts and compliance with legal requirements repeatedly raises questions about the identity of Iceland and the legitimacy of its social order.

For a long time Laxness was considered a follower of Marxist-communist teachings. This is expressed, for example, in his novel Atomstation (1948). In this novel, he vigorously opposes the stationing of American missiles in Iceland.

Laxness wrote numerous other novels, including The Happy Warriors (1952), in which he showed the negative sides of saga heroes partly satirically - not necessarily to the delight of all his compatriots. The book was written in deliberately archaic language and is considered by many to be the greatest parody of the Icelandic language.

In the late 1950s he turned away from communism. In his later novels The Fish Concert (1957), The Paradise Found (1960) and Am Gletscher (1968), the social criticism is no longer so clear. In his late work, Laxness is looking for new narrative forms that primarily play with the problem of the narrative perspective . Instead of topics critical of social and religion, Taoist topics found their way into his books.

List of works

  • 1919 Barn náttúrunnar (novel, Das Naturkind )
  • 1923 Nokkrar sögur (short stories)
  • 1924 Undir Helgahnúk (novel, On the holy mountain )
  • 1925 Kaþólsk viðhorf (essays)
  • 1927 Vefarinn mikli frá Kasmír (novel, German 1988: The great weaver of Kashmir )
  • 1929 Alþýðubókin (Essays, German 2011: The People's Book )
  • 1930 Kvæðakver (poems)
  • 1931 Þú vínviður hreini, 1932 Fuglinn í fjörunni (novel, German 1951, 1957: Salka Valka )
  • 1933 Í austurvegi (report) / Fótatak manna (stories) / Ungfrúin góða og húsið (story, German 1992: The good lady )
  • 1934 Straumrof (acting)
  • 1934 Sjálfstætt fólk I, 1935 Sjálfstætt fólk II (novel, German 1936: Der Freisasse (only first part, then forbidden); 1962: Independent people ; 1968: His own master )
  • 1937 Dagleið á fjöllum (essays)
  • 1938 Gerska æfintýrið (report)
  • 1937 Ljós heimsins, 1938 Höll sumarlandsins, 1939 Hús skáldsins, 1940 Fegurð himinsins (novel, German 1955: Weltlicht )
  • 1942 Sjö töframenn (stories) (German seven magicians ) / Vettvángur dagsins (essays)
  • 1943 Íslandsklukkan, 1944 Hið ljósa man, 1946 Eldur í Kaupinhafn (novel, German 1951: The Icelandic Bell )
  • 1946 Sjálfsagðir hlutir (essays)
  • 1948 Atómstöðin (novel, German 1955, 1989: atomic station )
  • 1950 Snæfríður Íslandssól (acting) / Reisubókarkorn (essays)
  • 1952 Gerpla (novel, German 1977: Gerpla ; 1991: The happy warriors ) / Heiman eg fór ( I went away from home )
  • 1954 Þættir (stories, German 2012: A reflection in the water ) / Silfurtúnglið (play)
  • 1955 Dagur í senn (essays)
  • 1957 Brekkukotsannáll (Novel, German 1961: The Fish Concert )
  • 1959 Gjörningabók (essays)
  • 1960 Paradísarheimt (novel, German 1971: Paradise found again )
  • 1962 Strompleikurinn (acting) / Prjónastofan Sólin (acting)
  • 1963 Skáldatími (Essays) (German time to write )
  • 1964 Sjöstafakverið (stories, German 2015: A fishing trip into the mountains )
  • 1965 Upphaf mannúðarstefnu (essays)
  • 1966 Dúfnaveislan (acting)
  • 1967 Íslendingaspjall (essays)
  • 1968 Kristnihald undir Jökli (Roman, German 1974: Pastoral care on the glacier ; 1989: On the glacier )
  • 1969 Vínlandspúnktar (essays)
  • 1970 Úa (drama) / Innansveitarkronika (novel, German 1976 parish chronicle )
  • 1972 Yfirskygðir staðir (essays) / Norðanstúlkan (drama) / Skeggræður Gegnum tíðina (essays) / Guðsgjafaþulan (novel, German 1979 The litany of the gifts of God ) / Af skáldum (essays)
  • 1974 Þjóðhátíðarrolla (essays)
  • 1975 Í túninu heima (Roman, German 1978: Auf der Hauswiese )
  • 1976 Úngur eg var ( I was young )
  • 1978 Sjömeistarasagan ( The Seven Masters Story )
  • 1980 Grikklandsárið ( The Year of Greece )
  • 1981 Við heygarðshornið (essays)
  • 1982 Bráðum kemur betri tíð ... (selection of poems)
  • 1984 Og árin líða (essays)
  • 1986 Af menningarástandi (essays)
  • 1987 Dagar hjá múnkum (diary)

Film adaptations

Some of his novels have been made into films:


Halldór Laxness is considered to be the first modern Icelandic author to achieve world fame. In 1955 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great art of storytelling in Iceland".

Laxness' other honors include the World Peace Prize in 1953 and the Sonning Prize in 1969 . He received honorary doctorates from the universities of Åbo (1968), Reykjavík (1972), the University of Edinburgh (1977) and the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (1982), the latter on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

Reception in Germany

Due to its long-time communism-friendly attitude, Laxness received more attention in the GDR than in the West German Republic . His post-war works were first translated in the GDR. In the 1990s there was an all-German renaissance of Laxness' works, triggered by a work edition by the Göttingen Steidl Verlag with partly new translations by Hubert Seelow .


  • Wilhelm Friese : Halldór Laxness. The novels. An introduction. Helbing and Lichtenhahn, Basel / Frankfurt am Main 1995. In: Contributions to Nordic Philology, Volume 24.
  • Wilhelm Friese: Knut Hamsun and Halldór Kiljan Laxness: Notes on works and effect. A. Franke, Tübingen / Basel 2002, ISBN 3-7720-2780-6 .
  • Wilhelm Friese: Encounters with Halldór Kiljan Laxness. Francke, Tübingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-7720-8288-7 .
  • Guðrún Hrefna Guðmundsdóttir: Halldór Laxness in Germany. Reception history studies. Lang, Frankfurt am Main / Bern / New York / Paris 1989.
  • Halldór Guðmundsson : Halldór Laxness. A biography. btb-Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-442-75142-6 .
  • Halldór Guðmundsson: Halldór Laxness. His life. Steidl, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-86930-235-5 .
  • Auður Jónsdóttir : Skrýtnastur er maður sjálfur , 2002 (children's / youth book, portrait of Halldór Laxness)
  • Aldo Keel: Innovation and Restoration. The novelist Halldór Laxness since World War II. Helbing and Lichtenhahn, Basel / Frankfurt am Main 1981. In: Contributions to Nordic Philology, Volume 10.
  • Günter Kötz: The problem of poets and society in the work of Halldór Kiljan Laxness. A contribution to modern Icelandic literature. Wilhelm Schmitz, Giessen 1966.
  • Halldór Laxness, Erik Sønderholm: De islandske Sagaer and other essays. Gyldendal, København 1963.
  • Erik Sønderholm: Halldór Laxness. En monografi. Gyldendal, København 1981.

See also

Web links

Commons : Halldór Laxness  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. knerger.de: The grave of Halldór Laxness
  2. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 1955. In: Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB, accessed on December 21, 2014 (English): "for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland"