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Under the Glacier

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  1,370 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness’s Under the Glacier is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, a wryly provocative novel at once earthy and otherworldly. At its outset, the Bishop of Iceland dispatches a young emissary to investigate certain charges against the pastor at Sn?fells Glacier, who, among other things, appears to have given up burying the dead. But once he arrives, the emis ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 8th 2005 by Vintage (first published 1968)
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Here's an Icelandic writer of which I've heard nothing about, despite the fact that he won the Nobel prize for literature. I found the book by chance, the synopsis sounded interesting enough, so I began reading and... helplessly fell in love with the novel.
This is Halldór Laxness' only book translated into Romanian, but I'm anxious to read some of his other works, especially Independent People.

Under the Glacier is truly an amazing book, which made me laugh (or at least giggle), think and wonder
Jan 23, 2008 Mark rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
It's not that I hated "Under the Glacier" or didn't get a chuckle from it occasionally (OK, more like a wan smile). But to call it, as Susan Sontag did, “a marvelous novel about the most ambitious questions" and "one of the funniest books ever written," is a stretch. (And btw, I'm glad I was never invited to comedy night at the Sontags).

Written by Icelandic Nobel Prize winner Halldor Laxness, "Under the Glacier" is the story (using the term loosely) of a bishop's emissary who hunts for the truth
Jun 04, 2007 Marissa rated it it was amazing
I couldn't find Independent People in my library (which I had only read half of and really wanted to finish) so I picked of this book of Laxness's instead and I am glad I did. I was expecting something slightly more magical realist so I was maybe a bit disappointed that it was not but was glad the "crazy" beliefs, stories, people, etc. became what they did.
The first 3/4ths of the book seem to be filled with silliness. The pastor isn't doing his job and the women don't sleep or eat. The church is
Nov 06, 2009 Erika rated it really liked it
My experience with this book:
This is supposed to be funny?
What's going on here?
Am I getting it?
This is supposed to be funny.
What's going on here?
Am I getting it?
This is sort of funny.
What's understanding?
On some level, I am getting it.
This book is funny, absurd funny.
What's up with the effing fish and the yogis from Los Angeles?

My reaction upon finishing the book:
It was amazing. I think I got it. It was hilarious. It's unlike anything I've ever read. Check back with me in 5 years w
May 04, 2007 emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
glaciers and absurdity

who doesn't judge books by their covers? i was in kramerbooks, soon to be headed to iceland, when this one called to me. i reached past the reds and blues and modern arts for a lovely green book with a title that pulled at my heartstrings. even though it was "ordinary people" that won halldór laxness the nobel prize, i went with "under the glacier" because of its title and because the subject matter seemed so fascinating.

how do i describe it? there's an intro by susan sonta
Four Laxness novels read so far and his style and approach has been different in each one so far. This is to be expected. At various points in his life Laxness was a Catholic priest, a Communist, the boy from the backwoods (or rather the icelandic equivalent thereof).

In Independent People we have the ironic homage to the nineteenth century realist novel or fulfilment of it in the light of Marxism, in The Atom Station a comedy of morality as Iceland steals itself, Paradise Reclaimed - something o
Dec 22, 2016 Ray rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A rollicking rambling mess of a book. A complete shambles, but somehow it works.

A bishops emissary is sent to a remote part of Iceland to investigate rumours of unorthodox religious practices. What he finds is bewildering and profound, absurd yet eminently sensible, earthy and obscure.

I enjoyed the book but felt that it was always just out of my grasp, that things were going over my head - just like the young emissary.
May 01, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
This last novel by the Icelandic Nobel-prize-winning Halldór Laxness is more than a little difficult to classify. In a way, it is similar to the same author's Paradise Reclaimed. In both books, Icelanders are lured away from their beliefs by, in one case Mormon missionaries from Utah, and in the other, a group of New Agers and quasi-Buddhists from California and other points of the compass.

Under the Glacier was originally called Christianity at Glacier. It tells of the Bishop of Iceland sending
John David
Oct 13, 2010 John David rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
The other day, I was looking for something out of the ordinary to read and, on opening Susan Sontag’s collection “Reborn,” saw an essay on Haldor Laxness’ “Under the Glacier.” Not wanting to give away too much to myself, I read only the first couple of paragraphs, was intrigued enough to pick it up, and set the rest of the essay aside for later.

The novel tells the story of a nameless bishop’s emissary (he is referred to only as “Embi,” short for “emissary of the bishop”). Embi is sent to a dista
Apr 20, 2008 Abi rated it it was amazing
A novel ostensibly about an emissary of the Bishop of Iceland, who is sent to the remote town of 'Glacier' to investigate the rumour that Pastor Jon is not burying the dead, that the church is boarded up, and that in general Christianity is being 'tampered with'. The investigation leaves the emissary moiled in confusion and improbability as he discovers that the church being boarded up is one of the least strange things about Glacier. One of the characters is a woman named Ua who may or may not ...more
Beka Sukhitashvili
Jul 08, 2014 Beka Sukhitashvili rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: icelandic
ყველაზე მნიშვნელოვანი რამ, წიგნში ხორცშესხმული პერსონაჟი ქალი უაა. თითქოს, სხვა მიზნები და საკითხებია პირველ პლანზე წამოწეული, მაგრამ სინამდვილეში ყველაფერი ამ ქალთან მიდის. ეს ის ქალია, რომელიც ბორდელს ფლობდა, მერე მონაზვნად აღიკვეცა, ერთდროულად ოთხ ქვეყანაში ცხოვრობდა, რამდენი ქმარი ყავდა, თვითონაც არ უწყოდა და თან, შესანიშნავი ქსოვა იცოდა.
უას გამოისობით, დეტერმინანტების კანონი მოქმედებაში იყო შესული: კოსმობიოლოგიამ და ეპაგოგიკამ წარმოაჩინეს საკუთარი თავი, ხოლო წიგნის პერსონაჟებს მუდმივად ახას
Aug 17, 2009 Lydia rated it it was ok
It's not fair for me to give this book a low score. It's the kind of book that you would like, if you liked this kind of book. It's deconstructed and strange and has lots of digressions. There's religion and Icelandic myth and lots of descriptions of the glacier. Mysterious people come and go, and are not as they seem. My linear and lumpen brain struggles to be patient with creative structures so after 90 pages i had to put it down. But give it a whirl if you enjoy being confused!
Christopher Kelsey
Jan 22, 2008 Christopher Kelsey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scandinavian
Unlike anything else I've read. Quick, witty, and very strange. The story is ostensibly a face-value report of a clergy investigation in a rural Icelandic town...where the slow approach of the Glacier seems to have replaced religion. There, life has become more practical but truth less important, and, ultimately, life more mysterious.
No Books
Halldór Laxness ha attraversato l’intero ventesimo secolo (1902-1998) ricevendo il Nobel circa a metà strada, nel 1955. Del 1968 è questo romanzo, un unicum non solo nella sua sterminata produzione (che finalmente sta avendo una diffusione anche in Italia) ma nel canone letterario tout court; tanto da meritare un saggio monografico di Susan Sontag, che Iperborea si concede il lusso di pubblicare come postfazione. La Sontag nota innanzitutto come Laxness mescoli e superi i generi letterari, in un ...more
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 Jim Elkins rated it liked it
Shelves: icelandic
This novel comes with impeccable credentials: Laxness, a Nobel laureate, is one of Iceland's major twentieth-century novelists; the translator is Magnus Magnusson, "Mastermind" television presenter, and authority on the Icelandic sagas; and the book has a late introduction by Susan Sontag (2004). For me, it had the additional attraction that it's set at Snaeffelsj�kull, an Icelandic volcano I had just visited, and one of the characters comes from Hafnarfj�r�ur, where I was staying in Iceland. [r ...more
May 07, 2009 Christy rated it liked it
Found it hard to condense my still tangled senses of this book to a staff pick card, since I only truly enjoyed the last part, when Ua returned. But here was my (very boring) try:

"Following a host of strange rumors, a young man is sent as an emissary of the Bishop of Iceland to investigate the parish at Snaefells Glacier, a landscape which profoundly roots and underlines the novel. Written by Iceland's premier author, Under the Glacier is a novel both comic and metaphysical, mythic and odd."

Nicki Markus
Dec 27, 2016 Nicki Markus rated it it was amazing
Under the Glacier is the second book by Laxness I have read. It is a different style from Independent People, but I loved it just as much. The story hooked me from the first page, and the characters were memorable and delightful. Laxness creates a perfect balance between humour and philosophy that kept me turning the pages, eager to see what strange events would take place next under the watchful gaze of the poor emissary. As a short read, this would be an excellent introductory piece for those ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Art rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
I'm not sure what to think on this book, about a young lay assistant to the Bishop who has to travel to a remote parish in Iceland and report on a pastor who's appeared to have gone off the rails. The quirkiness and 1960s prose and ideas really didn't connect with me very well. I'm not sure if it's me, if it's dated or if it's something lost in translation. I might revisit this book sometime in the future and see it it works better.
May 16, 2010 Deborah rated it it was amazing
This one stands out as the most quirky, macap, utterly brilliant novels that I have ever read. I searched all over trying to find another copy since I thought the one I had was missing the last 20 pages. But no, that was all part of the the way this book undoes all of those formulaic conventions that novels are usually known for. Fun.
Dejan Comassi
Dec 03, 2013 Dejan Comassi rated it really liked it
A beautiful kafkaesque novel, that asks some important questions about life, but is at the same time a parody. It's not like anything I've read before; a unique satyric novel, beautifully written. He deserved the Nobel-prize in literature like few of the laureates did. It left me speechless, and it's a shame that so few people have read it.
Oct 10, 2008 Dergrossest rated it did not like it
This book received glowing reviews in the NYT. The glow must have emanated from the reviewer's crack-pipe because the book completely sucked (I swear that I will never pick up another "modern Candide" as long as I live). I am contemplating filing suit to get my $16.95 back.
Jun 29, 2007 Joseph rated it it was amazing
If you read one book on Icelandic Mormons this year, make sure it's Under the Glacier. Laxness writes with such beauty and grace.
Apr 09, 2010 Aimee rated it did not like it
Too bad I have to give it any star. As my friend Sharon said "friends don't let friends read 'Under the Glacier'". It was bad & didn't make any sense to me. Blah
Jul 10, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: Tom Nash
Shelves: book-club
What a wackily delightful book - how come I've never heard about it, and the movie that's based on it (can't wait to find that one). It's not like anything else you've read - trust me on that.
Sep 13, 2007 Mark added it
Shelves: fiction
Hilarious tale of Christianity at the Snaefellsjökull glacier (where Verne's heroes descend to the center of the Earth) by Icelandic Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness.
Mar 16, 2015 Puck rated it really liked it
This is like Northern Exposure, Fargo and Twin Peaks all in one book. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Aug 20, 2008 Charlie rated it it was amazing
oh my god this book was awesome
May 10, 2015 Katie rated it liked it
A ghost is always the result of botched work; a ghost means an unsuccessful resurrection, a shadow of an image that has perhaps once been alive, a kind of abortion in the universe (125).

There are few texts in the world that allow me to stand back from the writing in total awe, turn to the author, and if he were not already dead, which is usually the case, I'd begin to scream, "Get out of my dreams; get into my car."

Icelandic novelist and Nobel Prize winner Halldor Laxness has always been the one
Lucia Plavakova
Jan 03, 2017 Lucia Plavakova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Štýlovo náročnejšia kniha, pri ktorej som dokonca váhala medzi tromi a piatimi ⭐. Ale postupne som si uvedomila geniálnosť tohto románu, ktorý svojho netradičného rozprávača necháva prejsť vnútorným vývojom, ktorý sa navonok prejavuje aj v samotnej zmene textu. Kniha, ktorá sa ukotví v pamäti.

"Chcete říct, že ten, komu nezáleží na výsledku hry, zůstane ušetřen zklamání?"
Nov 21, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
Utterly bizarre and mystifying, but also very entertaining and well written. The translation from Icelandic is a bit wonky at times but overall one of the most interesting novels I've read in a long while.
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Goodreads Librari...: Different ISBN for the same book 4 38 Jul 31, 2012 03:53PM  
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Born Halldór Guðjónsson, he adopted the surname Laxness in honour of Laxnes in Mosfellssveit where he grew up, his family having moved from Reyjavík in 1905. He published his first novel at the age of 17, the beginning of a long literary career of over 60 books, including novels, short stories, poetry, and plays. Confirmed a Catholic in 1923, he later moved away from religion and for a long time w ...more
More about Halldór Laxness...

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“Remember, any lie you are told, even deliberately, is often a more significant fact than a truth told in all sincerity.” 53 likes
“Whoever doesn't live in poetry cannot survive here on earth.” 25 likes
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