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Land till salu (1948)

av Halldór Laxness

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4011362,002 (3.42)30
When the Americans make an offer to buy land in Iceland to build a NATO airbase after the Second World War, a storm of protest is provoked throughout the country. Narrated by a country girl from the north, the novel follows her experiences after she takes up employment as a maid in the house of her Member of Parliament. Her observations and experiences expose the bourgeois society of the south as rootless and shallow and in stark contrast to the age-old culture of the solid and less fanciful north.… (mer)
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Visa 1-5 av 13 (nästa | visa alla)
I read this to know more about other countries and cultures but after reading it, I am not sure how representative this is of Iceland with its portrayal of a liberal society, and the class difference between the north and the south. Some parts are utterly incomprehensible, even the narrator thinks so. I don't get the part about the gods, and there are some bizarre characters. What saves the book is Ugla, the narrator. She is semi-educated but she has a mind of her own. She knows what she wants i.e. to experience life. ( )
  siok | Jul 4, 2021 |
Ekki eins áhugaverð og ég hafði gert ráð fyrir. ( )
  Glumsson | May 21, 2020 |
Part political satire, part town-versus-country lament, and part Cold War curio, The Atom Station is not an easy book for the modern reader to get a purchase on – subplots about Icelandic foreign policy and obscure rhetorical flourishes about bohemian ‘gods’ make the early parts of the novel an uphill battle, and some strands just fail to connect. Then again, it's unlikely you'll have read anything quite like this for a while.

The plot is animated by Icelandic opposition to the establishment, by a foreign power, of an ‘atom station’ on Icelandic territory. The English translation of this term is very unenlightening – what is an atómstöð, anyway? Michael Faber, in his review for The Guardian, assumes that it's a nuclear power station, but that's surely not right – the impression is rather of an atomic military base; the US does, in fact, have a Navy airbase at Keflavík which was established during the Second World War. (The Atom Station was published in 1948; a few years later, Laxness's friend and fellow writer Þórbergur Þórðarson would also make reference in his work to ‘the buildings on Keflavík airport which are supposed to defend the world’.) Probably The Nuclear Base would be a better English title. Anyway, if you have an interest in Cold War geopolitics, this makes for a fascinating case study from the very edge of Europe, where the clash between East and West, between capitalism and communism, underlies every conversation in the book.

Into this febrile environment comes our naïve, ingenuous narrator Ugla (‘owl’ – actually a direct cognate of the English word), who has travelled to Reykjavík from the rural north to work as a housemaid for a government minister. This allows Laxness to show up all the sophisticated politics for what they really are, in her eyes – namely, hypocrisy and nonsense. But to describe Ugla as naïve perhaps gives the wrong impression. She's not worldly-wise, but she's no delicate flower either – rather, a tall, strapping country lass who gives as good as she gets. ‘Just like you northerners, to start talking to people,’ the cook chides her after she makes conversation with the minister's family. Ugla shoots back at once: ‘I am people.’

She may not know a lot about politics, but she soon has the measure of her host family – there's a sharp reference to the minister's wife sitting around in bed all morning ‘glowing with happiness that there should be no justice in the world’. Meanwhile, the artists and leftists that Ugla meets around town are struggling with the postwar environment in their own way, trying to understand what role art can have in a world coming to terms with the Holocaust and under the shadow of nuclear annihilation.

"I have seen all the pictures from Buchenwald," said Benjamin. "It is impossible to be a poet any longer. The emotions stand still and will not heed the helm after you have studied the pictures of those emaciated bodies; and those dead gaping mouths. The love life of the trout, the rose glowing on the heath, dichterliebe, it's all over. Fini. Slutt. Tristram and Isolde are dead. They died in Buchenwald. And the nightingale has lost its voice because we have lost our ears, our ears are dead, our ears died in Buchenwald. And now nothing less than suicide will do any more, the square root of onanism."

(Shades of Adorno's famous assessment that Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch.) Perhaps it was ideas like this that induced Laxness to write the kind of novel he did: although it looks like a straightforward urban satire to us, it was pretty revolutionary in a country whose literature, building on the sagas, had always focused on rural life, as indeed had Laxness's own earlier works. The Atom Station is credited with kick-starting a whole new genre of Reykjavík fiction (in the process breaking many social taboos; a fairly minor treatment of an abortion in here got the author into a lot of trouble on the book's release).

This novel looks back to that rustic tradition even while moving away from it – Ugla constantly judges people and their behaviour against the example set by the heroes of the sagas, frustrated, for instance, by how much everyone keeps talking about their feelings and opinions. ‘I never knew what my father was thinking,’ she comments. ‘A man who says what he is thinking is absurd; at least in a woman's eyes.’ One wonders then why they keep asking.. She also regrets the way her native region has been romanticised by town-dwellers into something completely alien to her: ‘the countryside has turned into literature, poetry and art,’ she realises; ‘and you no longer belong there.’

I wasn't entirely won over by the novel, but if it can offer more than merely historical interest to a modern reader, it's because of the charms of Ugla as a narrator. She is a fantastically prickly and independent voice by any standards, and doubly so for being written in the 1940s by a man. Not just politics and art, but also affairs of the heart strike her as urban affectations, and after watching her employers and acquaintances fall in and out of bed with each other, she throws her hands up over the whole enterprise in a way that you wish some other fictional protagonists would do. ‘I think love is a pastime among sterile folk in towns,’ she concludes wisely, ‘and takes the place of the simple life.’ ( )
1 rösta Widsith | Feb 26, 2018 |
I was introduced to the work of Nobel Laureate Halldor Laxness by Rory McTurk, my tutor at Leeds University what now seems about a hundred years ago. Although he initially just taught me Old English, Dr (indeed later Professor) McTurk was one of Britain’s leading authorities on Old Norse literature, but was almost as enthusiastic about contemporary Icelandic fiction too.

I fear that Rory’s enthusiasm was not infectious, and although I dabbled in some of Laxness’s works back in the early 1980s, I found I just couldn’t properly get to grips with them. I did, however, feel a flush of fond memories of sipping beer (or even mead) with Rory and his colleague Tom Shippey when I saw a special display of this Laxness book in my local bookstore, and succumbed to a purchase on a wave of nostalgia. I think, on refelction, that that was a mistake. I would have better served my mentor’s memory by returning to the sagas or a quick romp through The Battle of Maldon.

The basic premise of this novel is sound, which was why I fell for the blurb on the cover. Published in the close aftermath of the Second World War, the book revolves around the true story of plans for the United States of America to buy significant plots of land in Iceland on which to establish a major airbase (that would eventually become Keflavik). This provoked major protests across Iceland, which are recounted by a simple country girl who has come to Reykjavik from her home in the north of the island to work as a maid for the family of a member of the Thing, the Icelandic parliament.

This allows Laxness great scope to comment on the bourgeois lifestyle in Reykjavik compared with the maid’s harsh prior existence in the untamed hinterlands. Of course, there is a sort of parallax effect reading this now in Paris in 2015, a perspective from which the Reykjavik of 1948 seems irredeemably lacking in any hint of bourgeois comfort or complacency. The maid’s sense of wonder as she moves through her new environment is certainly endearing.

Unfortunately, the novel has not aged well. The political tension fuelling the historic context should have cut through the gap in time, but the characters now seem hopelessly flat and stilted. Laxness also seemed to try too hard to cast some air of charm or oddness about the family that employs the maid. Perhaps something was lost in translation, but I just found this to be an exercise in misplaced quirkiness that lacked the comic deftness to bring it off.

Sorry, Rory! ( )
  Eyejaybee | Apr 3, 2017 |
One of Laxness's shorter and possibly more accessible books, Atom Station is a satire on post-war society, politics and authority. Even though it is short, it needs to be read carefully, as much of Laxness's writing here stirs further reflection. It is very good at highlighting the clash between the northern Icelandic serving girl and the southern politicians and city-dwellers whose lives and idiosyncrasies are a source of amusement. Often, though I found it difficult to read mainly because of its disjointedness and slightly surreal nature. However, this should not deter me from either re-reading it or attempting some of Laxness's longer novels. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Halldór Laxnessprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
CHIRILĂ, Adamedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Magnusson, MagnusÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
POPESCU, Radumedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
אריוך, ג.Översättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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Ég spurði hvort hann vildi þá ekki breyta kirkjunni í hof handa þeim Þór, Óðni og Frey.
Faðir minn endurtók nöfn þeirra seinn í máli og hugsi, og svipurinn mildaðist aftur einsog við endirminníngu horfinna vina: Þór, Óðinn og Freyr. Hafðu sæl nefnt þá.
Alt sem þú biður um skaltu fá.
Já seisei, landsréttindin eru farin, altílagi með það. Reykjanes á að vera sérstakur hvíldarstaður fyrir góðgerðaleiðángra sem fara vestrum og austrum.
Og hverjir sögðu já, spurði ég.
Þú ert valla það barn að þurfa að spyrja að því, sagði hann. Auðvitað sögðu föðurlandshúrrararnir já.
„Ég er búinn að sjá allar myndirnar frá Buchenwald, sagði benjamín. Það er ekki hægt að vera skáld leingur. Tilfinníngarnar standa kyrrar og láta ekki að stjórn eftir að þú hefur skoðað þessa horkroppa á mynd; og þessa dauðu opnu munna. Ástamál silúnga, rósin rjóð á heiði, dichterliebe, það er búið; fini; slútt. Tristram og Ísodd eru látin.“
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When the Americans make an offer to buy land in Iceland to build a NATO airbase after the Second World War, a storm of protest is provoked throughout the country. Narrated by a country girl from the north, the novel follows her experiences after she takes up employment as a maid in the house of her Member of Parliament. Her observations and experiences expose the bourgeois society of the south as rootless and shallow and in stark contrast to the age-old culture of the solid and less fanciful north.

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