Halldór Laxness: Paradísarheimt (Paradise Reclaimed)


The latest addition to my website is Halldór Laxness‘s Paradísarheimt (Paradise Reclaimed). This is one of his later novels, written five years after he won the Nobel Prize and written in somewhat of a different style, not least because a significant amount is set in the United States, specifically in Salt Lake City. It tells the story of Steinar Steianahlíðar, a conscientious and responsible farmer and family man, who meets the King of Denmark, when at a celebration for the one thousandth anniversary of the settlement of Iceland, and travels to Copenhagen at the King’s request. While at the anniversary ceremony, he also meets a Mormon bishop, an Icelander who has emigrated to Utah, who is being harassed by the locals, who believe that Mormonism is a heresy. He will later rescue him from an irate group of Icelanders and then meet him Copenhagen, where the bishop pays for him to go to Utah, which he does. He essentially abandons his family, who fall on hard times, and becomes a Mormon, though not a fanatic, before finally returning to Iceland, the (somewhat dubious) paradise reclaimed of the title. While not a bad book, I did not find it up to the standard of his earlier work, not least because of the part set in Utah, where both Laxness and Steinar seemed at something of a loss and out of their depth.

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