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Paradise Reclaimed (Vintage International) by [Laxness, Halldor]
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Paradise Reclaimed (Vintage International) Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Length: 322 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


“Laxness has genuine magic as a novelist.”–New York Herald Tribune

"Full of an earthy poetry . . . a style wonderfully wise and entirely Scandinavian in its combination of magic and reality." --The New York Times Book Review

"The qualities of the sagas pervade his writing, and particularly a kind of humor--oblique, stylized and childlike--that can be found in no other contemporary writer." --Atlantic

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Icelandic

Product Details

  • File Size: 648 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Publication Date: December 18, 2007
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUBDM6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,786 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This peculiar but affecting parable bears similarities to Laxness's most famous work, "Independent People." With its many references to Icelandic sagas, it describes the conflict between the simple life of a sparsely populated countryside and the cynical modernity of the outside world. Its farmer-hero, Steinar of Hildar, is a pastoral Don Quixote, a study of the innocence of a man who seeks meaning and "paradise" for himself and his family, who cannot bring himself to think ill of others, and whose optimism and faith is unshakable.

Steinar's journey is not an easy one--for him or for his family; their trusting naivety is no defense against the guiles of those who think themselves wiser and better. Steinar's tale begins when he selflessly offers a pony, the beloved pet of his children, to the king of Denmark, who in return offers expenses-paid hospitality in his realm. On his pilgrimage to visit the king, Steinar crosses paths, several times, with a persecuted Mormon bishop who is proselytizing in the countryside; the bishop regales the farmer with tales of an earthly paradise: Utah. (The Mormon element of the novel is not gratuitous, by the way. A definitive study of Scandinavia, by T. K. A. Derry, notes that during the years 1873-90, at least 12,000 Icelanders--out of a population of 70,000--emigrated to the North America in large part because of Mormon conversions.)

Steinar's subsequent travels eventually take him to Utah, where he hopes to bring his family to share in the earth's bounty. Little does he know that his equally gullible and simple wife and children have fallen victim to a series of scoundrels, particularly the local sheriff, who has made a career of seeding his offspring among the adolescent girls in his parish.
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Format: Paperback
Along with The Fish can Sing, this is one of Laxness's best "later" novels (i.e. from the post-epic phase, which resulted in masterpieces like Independent People and Iceland's Bell, now finally translated into English!). It is a touching story - based, as is so often the case with Laxness, on real persons and events - of an Icelandic farmer who is baptized by a Mormon and decides to move to the promised land, i.e. Salt Lake City. The story is beautiful and deeply touching in its descriptions of the many sacrifices which have to be made in order for this dream to be realized, and the ending is absolutely brilliant (and fully in keeping with Laxness's Taoist philosophy). A must-read!
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Format: Paperback
A saga about Steinar Steinsson of Hlidar farm in Iceland, a simple man who lives with his simple wife and two simple children. Set in the later 1800's, the story begins with the family possessing a remarkable pony that is the envy of others, it attracts so much attention that Steinar decides to take the pony to a national celebration and present it to King Christian of Denmark. It is here that he encounters Bishop Didrik for the first time, an ex-Icelander who now makes his home in Salt Lake, the bishop is back in Iceland to convert souls to Mormonism. Later Steinar is invited to Denmark by King Christian, where he meets European royalty, drinks water from a special spring and after another encounter with the bishop is converted to Mormonism. He decides to travel to America abandoning his family and embracing his new faith, the Mormon community is at this point is still young and still polygamous. Eventually after some years he sends for his family in Iceland but by then nothing is the same, his farm is in ruins and his loved ones broken.
Funny and heartbreaking at the same time, this novel is as beautiful to read as a fairytale. Much also about life in Iceland at that time and the early history of Mormonism in Utah.
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