Schattenfuchs
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Schattenfuchs

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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,507 ratings  ·  232 reviews
The year is 1883. The stark Icelandic winter landscape is the backdrop. We follow the priest, Skugga-Baldur, on his hunt for the enigmatic blue fox. We're then transported to the world of the naturalist Fríðrik B. Fríðriksson and his charge, Abba, who suffers from Down's syndrome, and who came to his rescue when he was on the verge of disaster. Then to a shipwreck off the...more
Hardcover, 126 pages
Published 2011 by Fischer (first published 2003)
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s.penkevich
'I have seen the universe, it is made of poems.'

All things change—nothing perishes.’ – Ovid

It always astonishes me when a book can create a vast amount of power and meaning out of such little story and length. Set amid the snow and ice of an Icelandic winter, Sjón’s The Blue Fox, winner of the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize, is as still and quiet as a coffin yet holds a horrific truth inside. Sjón masterfully laces two stories together, one of Reverend Baldur’s fateful hunt for a blue fox...more
Greg
A Self-Righteous Aside
Searching for images of a Blue Fox is disturbing. Here is a non-disturbing picture:



but for just about every photo of fox in the wild, there is a creepy drawing of cartoonish blue vixen with big boobs, or even worse pictures of fattened and depressed looking foxes being kept in cages awaiting their murder for their fur, dead foxes having been killed for their fur, or well the end result of their murder. Now murder might be a harsh word, and some people believe fur is right t...more
Salma
بعيدا مع الثعلب الأزرق!ه

في سهوب آيسلاندا القاسية و المكسوة بثلوج شتاء قاتم، كان هناك صياد يلاحق ثعلبة زرقاء...ه
بينما في قرية آيسلاندية عشّاب يقوم بتحضير جنازة لفتاة مصابة ببلاهة منغولية كان يرعاها مذ عـُـثر عليها مقيدة قبل سنين في سفينة ضخمة مهجورة جنحت للشاطئ ذات عاصفة...ه
هاتان القصتان المنفصلتان تتداخلان و تسيران جنبا إلى جنب في سرد مشوق لا يخلو من ظرف... و يتمازج الواقعي مع الخرافي لتجتمعا أخيرا في نهاية واحدة...ه
الثعلب الأزرق رواية ساحرة غريبة تحملك إلى أعماق الحياة في آيسلاندا القرن التاسع...more
Christopher
There are short novels that are perfect in their shortness. Of Mice and Men, We Have Always Lived in the Castle: the top contenders for perfect short novel.

This is a good short novel that could be a perfect long novel. In fact, it's a short story masquerading as a novel which should be a long novel which could be perfect.

The Blue Fox begins with a deceptively simple mini-story (the word "fable" here is almost unavoidable) of a hunter on the trail of a mythical, possibly magical, blue fox. Then t...more
April
I was toying with giving this novel a four star rating, but further thought brought it down to a three. Enchanting as it is poetic — even if in a darkly fashion — Sjón is exquisite in both his writing and style. I did not expect such a superb, thrilling read. From the beginning I was hooked by the intensity of scenes due to the sheer focus on detail and the craft of such isolated happenings in an incredibly affective way. I commend the author for such an enrapturing ride and the ability to creat...more
jeremy
it's curious the ways in which a novel that doesn't otherwise astound us can still have more of a lingering effect than those that so effortlessly do. sjón's the blue fox (skugga-baldur) is a novella set in late 19th century iceland concerning the fates of three individuals (or four, if you count that of the eponymous canine). as an icelandic novelist and poet, it is nearly inevitable that sjón would garner comparisons to nobel laureate and countryman halldór laxness, given that he is one of but...more
Victoria
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A.C.Hale
"Blue foxes are so curiously like stones that it is a matter for wonder."

Sjón's mythical masterpiece weaves together two stories that take place over a few short midwinter days in Iceland in 1883. At the start of the book we follow the priest, Baldur Skuggason, as he hunts a blue fox across frozen landscapes. The first 30 or so pages are as sparse as the midwinter landscape they depict, sometimes only a handful of sentences occupy the page, but their poetic brilliance just intensifies the proces...more
Ademption
3.5 rounded down to 3 (because I'm cruel). The Blue Fox is precious, almost off-puttingly so, but what redeems it is teeth. Like Björk, for whom the author has written songs, this novella is cute and violent. The Icelandic stereotype of small, dreamy and stabby is in full effect here.
Taylor K.
Reverend Baldur hunts a beguiling blue fox. Fridrik, a naturalist, faces the loss of Abba, a young woman in his care. These stories weave together in a not wholly unforeseen way in this icy, poetic novella by Icelandic writer, Sjón, relayed in four intersecting movements.

Not sure I'd call it a fairy tale as others have, but it does tread into fable/parable territory. I can't help but feel like I'm missing out on some references as a non-native, but ultimately, it's Sjón's cutting prose that stea...more
Antonomasia
Sept 2011
It may have the cutest cover of any book I've read as an adult, be described as a "fairy tale", with a recommendation from Bjork, but this story is far from twee.

The original Icelandic title is "Skugga-Baldur", also the name of one of the central characters - not a nice man - whom we first meet as he hunts the blue fox. The harshness of that sound, and the use of his name as the title, far better reflects the tale and its brutal environment. This is not "The Snow Goose" featuring a rare...more
Jim
The Blue Fox is a great short story (despite being marketed as a novel). Sjon grabs your attention on page 1 and keeps it for the full hour it takes to read the story. The sequence of events is broken up much like a film noir murder mystery with an exciting opening scene, followed by a long second act back-story that circles around and reveals what the opening was really about. Clever and engaging and worth the read.

One complaint, however, is that even though this is printed as 115 pages, it is...more
Steve
For such a compact, quick story it's terrific how deeply The Blue Fox pulls you into its world — the descriptions and details, from characters to landscape, are so precise and evocative. The story itself is simple, at first glance, but woven with mythic intimations of transformation and revenge that kept me engrossed and alert. There's a degree to which I know I missed elements of the story, though, because while I think I picked up on a couple of particular references to Iceland lore and litera...more
Heather Noble
The beauty of the blue fox contrasts the ugly character of the priest who hunts her.
The magic and grandeur of the landscape destroys the self serving, avaricious, self righteous Baldur Skuggason.
The quiet kindness and sympathy in the story of Abba, the Down's syndrome child who grows into a woman cared for by the naturalist Fridrik and unknowingly loved by the priest's servant shame the empty ritualistic religion of the Reverend Baldur Skuggason who will not even let Abba in his church.
The stor...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
A fine book for anyone who appreciates a good tale well told. At first I worried that Sjon's pared-down prose would slip into peciosity, but he spins a sly story that evokes both the most primitive and brutal aspects of 19th century Icelandic life and its surprising interactions with cosmopolitan European society. I am not one for magical realism, but this is a story where a dying, loutish parish priest should absolutely engage a dead fox in a theological debate on the evils of electricity. Over...more
Jiminyc
I read this for a book club. The descriptive brutality and the ugliness of the main character prevented me from enjoying the book. The one interesting character dies before we get to experience her. Description on the book cover states it's part mystery, part fairy tale. There was no mystery here, and the ending wrap-up I found odd and unsatisfying. Fairy tale I can see, but not the sort you'd want your children to read. The vast majority of readers seem to love love love this book but it wasn't...more
Liz (Liz'sBookBuffet)
"All things change -- nothing perishes."

Instantly I was thrown into an action-packed pursuit of a blue fox, known only as "the vixen," by a hunter, during an Icelandic snow storm. It did not take long for me to realize who was the smarter of the two. It is only when the hunter becomes the fox that he is able to trick and outsmart like the fox.

Because this book is set in Iceland in the 1880s, I was introduced to characters of a completely different caliber than I have ever read.

Fridrik, the farm...more
Jim
In 1868, while scavenging through a shipwreck on the Icelandic coast, locals find a fourteen-year-old girl with Down's Syndrome chained to the timbers; it’s clear to what use the sailors have put her. They rescue her, clean her up but don’t seem to have much of a clue what to do with her; in Icelandic culture babies born this way were normally smothered by the midwife before they could take their first breath. The girl, who becomes known as Abba although in time we learn that her real name is La...more
Daniel Stephens
This is the second of Sjón's novels I have read this year, and
Like From the Mouth of the Whale, it's a beautiful, crisp, mysterious and magical tale. Every word is polished and lyrical - a testament to the fantastic work of the translator Victoria Cribb - and the highly poetic style fits the intertwining tales perfectly. The brutish selfishness of the Priest is reflected in the snow bound immensity of the Icelandic wilderness, and serve to throw his petty nature and smallness into sharp focus,...more
Danielle Raub


Written by the Icelandic author and poet Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson, or Sjón, The Blue Fox is just one of Sjón's many works amid a respectable repertoire that includes poetry, children's books, novels, and plays. Among his credits is a lyrical collaboration with fellow Icelander, Björk on the song “I've Seen it All.” A beautifully written and simplistically poignant song, “I've Seen it All” reflects the insight of Sjón’s lyrical voice and the seemingly prophetic power of his first name Sigurjón,...more
Gonçalo Serra
Um livro trazido pela Cavalo de Ferro. Um escritor que partilha o glaciar com Bjork, o que lhe impulsiona o caminho para a divulgação da obra. Da Islândia é incontornável Halldór Laxness (também recuperado pela editora) e nesta prosa jovem sente-se algo desse folclore, da poesia da imagem e da saga individual dos personagens - o que é recomendável. É uma narrativa lenta e profunda, com tempo para olhar a aurora boreal e sobreviver às avalanches (literalmente). Abandono, miséria humana, crendice,...more
Constance
Dedim ya, ağır gribim bu aralar. Bir an iyi oluyorum, sonra yine başlıyor tatsız, boğazımı acıtan bir öksürük. Az da uyuyuorum bu aralar. Hem zamankinden daha az. Beş saatlik uyku fazla gelir oldu. Anlamıyorum neden. Bana çok vakit kalıyor, orası doğru da bir an gelecek de bu birikmiş yorgunluk çok fena patlayacak diye de korkuyorum bir yandan. İşte yine bu az uykulu gecelerin sabahından birinde taa geçen sene Ekim’de okumaya başlayıp yarım bıraktığım bir kitabı bitirdim.

İtiraf etmek lazım. Ben...more
Leah
This book has been on quite a few blogs for a while and highly recommended. It is only 100 pages long and I read it in a day. Written by Sjon from Iceland (he writes lyrics for Bjork), it is set in the Icelandic wilderness in 1883. We are told two juxtaposed stories that become invariably linked as the tale comes together. The first follows Baldur Skuggason, a priest, hunting for the valuable Blue Fox in the snowy wastelands. Then we follow Fridrik B. Fridriksson a few days earlier, a naturalist...more
Jeremy Birks
Sjón is an Icelandic writer/poet and musician who is well known in literature circles in his native homeland. Some may already be familiar with some of his work as he has collaborated in the past with the musician Björk, writing lyrics for several of her songs. The Blue Fox is the only of his novels available in English currently and is being reissued alongside two others this May translated by Victoria Cribb.

The Blue Fox is a quirky, short novel mostly concerning a hunter and his prey, a rare b

...more
Chihoe Ho
I have read and mulled over "The Blue Fox" before writing this review and I am still quite torn over how to talk about it to others. Let's begin with this: I enjoyed it a little lesser than "The Whispering Muse" while reading it, but came to like it just the same after having read it.

Accessibility is why. "The Blue Fox" had more references to the Icelandic way of life, from its culture to its folklore and its environs. This is by no means a bad thing, but it definitely took away some understandi...more
jess
I went through this phase before I got pregnant where I was obsessed with Reykjavik. I wanted to take my family there for spring break in 2013. Then I got pregnant, and I thought "OMG walking around Reykjavik in March while I'm 18 weeks pregnant is going to be so crazy!" Then I found out I was having twins and, like many things in my life, the trip to Reykjavik was off the table.

So I decided to read an Icelandic book and this! this book was a great candidate since it's by a beloved author from...more
Bethany
Written by a prolific Icelandic author, I'm not sure even how to describe this--short, deceptively simple, the story [almost fable] of a blue fox, a pastor, and a girl with Down Syndrome in Iceland--but that's almost too many details for this simple tale.

The descriptions are poetic and breathtaking--

"In the halls of heaven it was now dark enough for the Aurora Borealis sisters to begin their lively dance of the veils. With an enchanting play of colours they flitted light and quick about the grea...more
Rainbowgirl
Mar 25, 2012 Rainbowgirl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rainbowgirl by: Pioup
C'est un roman très court, qui commence par de petites scènes brèves avec fondu au blanc. Touche par touche, avec une narration qui se donne des airs décousus mais n'en est pas moins fascinante, les personnages sont posés, et avec eux la nature glacée, l'odeur de tabac, de poudre et de thé, le langage particulier des benêts et des hommes gelés. Et on est pris, et on ne sait plus où a mis les pieds. Est-ce un fragment de chronique sociale ou un conte venu du froid ? En tout cas, c'est un récit ét...more
Diane S.
3.5 The first part of this novella, which take place in Iceland, is of a man attempting to hunt down and kill a blue fox. The writing is in short paragraphs and one can feel the cold, see the snow covered ground and feel the frustration of the man as the fox keeps disappearing on him. The second part, takes one into the story and we find out who the man is and a few other characters, also the man finally gets the fox, but the fox has many different meanings.. If only divine justice worked in rea...more
Sidsel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Sjón (Sigurjón B. Sigurðsson) was born in Reykjavik on the 27th of August, 1962. He started his writing career early, publishing his first book of poetry, Sýnir (Visions), in 1978. Sjón was a founding member of the surrealist group, Medúsa, and soon became significant in Reykjavik's cultural landscape.
More about Sjón...
From the Mouth of the Whale The Whispering Muse Mánasteinn - Drengurinn sem aldei var til Dina ögon såg mig Engill, pípuhattur og jarðarber

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“I have seen the universe! It is made of poems!” 9 likes
“Fridrik sat many a night by a smoking lamp, translating into Danish descriptions of the latest methods of keeping us poor humans alive, while on pallets around him lay the corpses, beyond any aid, despite the encouraging news of advances in electrical cures.” 1 likes
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