On writing: Decent People
Sigurbjörg Þrastardóttir (born Iceland, 1973) is the author of ten poetry collections, two novels and a few staged plays. Amongst her publications is the poetry cycle Blysfarir (Torch Marches), nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2009, later released in German and Swedish. Further titles include the poetry collection Brides, and the short story collection The Fearful Trumpeter and Other Stories. Most recently the Reykjavik Arts Festival partly stage-read her play Seven Women Murdered at a Sauna, at the Reykjavik City Theatre.
Gljúfrasteinn, situated not far from Reykjavík, was Halldór’s home and workplace for many decades, and it is now open to the public as a museum. The modern house, built in 1945 and designed by architect Agust Palsson, was very popular with guests; it often attracted foreign sovereigns who would stop by on their way to Iceland’s popular shrine, Thingvellir national park. Halldór enjoyed throwing concerts in his living room, and invited many famous artists to come and perform for fortunate attendees. Nowadays, during the summer months, concerts are still held in that living room, offering a wide variety of events by artists such as Hlín Pétursdóttir Behrens and Pamela de Sensi. Gljúfrasteinn remains unchanged since Laxness resided there, giving visitors an insight into the Nobel Prize winner’s extraordinary life.
Guests can also enjoy walking across the enchanting countryside and along the river Kaldakvísl, as Laxness himself did many times, often searching for inspiration for his latest work. This has been highlighted by Icelandic playwright Sigurbjorg Þrastardóttir in his production, as he depicts a distracted Laxness escaping to the moors in an attempt to find peace and stimulate his imagination. Sigurbjorg’s play has been adapted for performance by GoodDog Theatre Company.
Halldór Laxness is considered to be Iceland’s most notable 20th century writer, and has been described as ‘a kind of architect of Iceland’s national identity’. His portfolio of work is undoubtedly vast, but also incredibly diverse and unpredictable. This could be attributed to the fact that Laxness’ ideals changed over time, as he flitted between Catholicism, Socialism and finally Taoism. It could be argued that the ‘broken window’ in the upcoming play symbolises Halldór’s broken belief; the new window brings him another view of life. Come along to see the performance on September 19th and make your mind up for yourself!