Halldór Kiljan Guðjónsson Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The foremost literary figure of modern Iceland, Halldór Laxness (LAHKS-nehs) broke with the cultural tradition of the island, both in philosophy and style. Although his early novels imitate the old Norse epics in scope, his method and manner were quite different. He blends lyricism with realism and often satirized the society he depicted. His political radicalism made him critical of existing institutions and of the people who allowed them to exist; his search was directed toward urban values that could replace the old agrarian ways of life.{$S[A]Gu{eth}jónsson, Halldór Kiljan[Gudjónsson, Halldór Kiljan];Laxness, Halldór}

He was born Halldór Kiljan Guðjónsson in Reykjavík on April 23, 1902, but spent his boyhood at Laxness, a farm to which his family moved when he was three years old and from which he took his pen name. Prosperous farmers, his parents sent him to school in Reykjavík, but he remained there only one year; the chief event of his schooldays was his introduction to a group of student poets and the literary circles of the capital. In 1919, following his father’s death, he began the series of wanderings that marked his life. Most of the tales in his first book of short stories were written as he moved from one Scandinavian country to another. In 1921-1922 he was in Germany. Denied entry to the United States in 1922, he returned to Europe and spent a year in a monastery in Luxembourg. There he became a convert to Catholicism in...

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