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Ring of Seasons: Iceland--Its Culture and History Paperback – December 26, 2000
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Very informative. It read kind of like a text book and not a travelogue which is what I was looking for. Despite the format, I still enjoyed the book.
Her sources reveal this. She focuses on natural resources, geography, history, folktales, and politics. More social sciences, therefore, than culture. That comes in the opening vignettes, where she shows in her interactions with families and friends at gatherings and holidays how they act and talk. That enlivens the factual emphasis of the bulk of this study. It's valuable for those seeking a guide not to the sights (you get little of this) and more the contexts. For instance, Lacy attends to the personality traits of a people friendly but reserved, careful yet bold, and who have little patience for the foolish--or for those outside their kin and kith, whose pedigrees and backgrounds in a small nation are intimately known to all.
This will serve as a reference bridging the gap between English-language travel accounts or guidebooks and specialized studies, often in Icelandic, inaccessible to the reader in our language, Lacy sifts their findings and documents her research well. Even if parts of this are dated, it's less dated than expected, for she wisely avoided too much coverage of contemporary data, stressing instead the factors in Iceland more enduring in its land and its people. Arranged in a cyclical fashion around the seasons, the presentation of material gradually flows from past to present, but in a dispersed fashion. This keeps you reading, for the material is dispersed throughout, a novel but clever touch. Part of what makes this place special is the inherent fascination with a place so novel in its settlement and perch above the rest of Europe, and this factor does endure in this presentation, beneath the factual blizzards and data snow that can cloud the casual inquirer.
I highly recommend it !