Laxness, Halldór Kiljan

Laxness, Halldór Kiljan hälˈdōr kĭlˈyän läkhsˈnĕs [key], 1902–98, Icelandic novelist, b. Reykjavík as Halldór Kiljan Gudjónsson. Although Laxness was converted to Roman Catholicism briefly, The Weaver of Cashmere (1927) expressed his disillusionment with Christianity. His sympathies turned toward socialism and communism and are reflected in later novels. Salka Valka (1931–32, tr. 1936), Independent People (1934–35, tr. 1945–46), and The Light of the World (1937–40, tr. 1969) deal with Icelandic peasant life and describe an endless search for independence. Set in the late 17th cent., the complex Iceland's Bell (1943, tr. 2003), has been considered both his bleakest work of fiction and the centerpiece of his oeuvre. Written in the great narrative tradition of the Icelandic epics, his novels set a new style for modern Icelandic literature and often provoked bitter controversy. His later works, such as the original and often comic Christianity at Glacier (1969, tr. 1972, tr. as Under the Glacier, 2005), exhibit an interest in Taoism. Laxness, who wrote more than 60 books including short stories, essays, poems, plays, and memoirs as well as novels, received the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature.

See studies by P. Hallberg (1971, repr. 1982).

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