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Paradise Reclaimed

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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  289 ratings  ·  18 reviews
An idealistic Icelandic farmer journeys to Mormon Utah and back in search of paradise in this captivating novel by Nobel Prize—winner Halldor Laxness.


The quixotic hero of this long-lost classic is Steinar of Hlidar, a generous but very poor man who lives peacefully on a tiny farm in nineteenth-century Iceland with his wife and two adoring young children. But when he impuls
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 2nd 2002 by Vintage (first published 1960)
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg LarssonPippi Longstocking by Astrid LindgrenHunger by Knut Hamsun
Best Nordic Fiction
48th out of 253 books — 58 voters
Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur IndriðasonJar City by Arnaldur IndriðasonIndependent People by Halldór LaxnessThe Blue Fox by SjónNjal's Saga by Anonymous
Icelandic Literature - Past and Present
18th out of 70 books — 35 voters


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Community Reviews

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Jan-Maat
"Am I muddy at all?" asked the Mormon.
Steinar coiled the rope up carefully like the tidy man he was, and laid it on the tethering-block. Then he brushed the Mormon down a little.
"There is little I can say," said Steinar. "Criticizing others will not make me any bigger."
(p48)

This is a very simply told and deceptively slight story. Once upon a time there lived in Iceland a man called Steinar, he gave an uncommonly fine horse to the King of Denmark and then travelled to that distant land to visit
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Carolyn
Once again, Halldor Laxness shows such a warm sympathy for the human condition. The story of the simple,industrious, innately pure Steinar, unfolds with gentle irony yet sincere respect. The reader often experiences an almost stereoscopic vision that elicits contrasting responses.
Fundamentally, it chronicles Steinar's altruistic quest for a better life for himself and his family, first seeking some sort of vague benificence from the Danish king, and subsequently, making the pilgrimage to the pro
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Ben
What a funny little book! The recovered manuscript of Iceland's Nobel Prize winning Halldor Laxness in which he somehow manages to be both satrical and emotionally astute with a story as alien to the land of the fjords as "the back of the moon"--Mormonism. This book is a complete prize.
Anders
With the mountainous legacy of Icelandic sagas looming over him, Nobel-prize winning Icelandic author Halldor Laxness' writing is positioned in a very fertile artistic space. His prose is modern, aware of itself, and is heavily influenced by the complications and ambiguities of modern life. Particularly impressive are his powers of description. Laxness is able to place the reader in mid-19th century Iceland, geographically as well as psychologically, without spending any time away from the chara ...more
Julia
I have to admit that it was the title that made me read this book. "Paradise Reclaimed" suggested that it would be no ordinary kind of an adventure and it did! The story is absolutely beautiful and do not expect a regular kind of the novel. The book also provides an interesting insight into the history of Icelandic immigration and mormonism in the nineteenth century. The author does a magnificent job of transporting you into the right epoch and his prose is singing and enchanting. That said, I f ...more
Juan Hidalgo
Otro libro que comencé con muy buenas perspectivas, pero que fue decayendo a medida que avanzaba en su lectura y la historia se iba perdiendo entre la religiosidad y la moralidad de unos personajes con vidas sencillas y llanas hasta la simpleza.

La duda que me queda es si el autor retrata la realidad de un mundo por él conocido, si el relato está influido por sus propias creencias (se confirmó como católico), o si es una crítica a ese mundo debido a sus experiencias posteriores (al simpatizar más
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Adrian Stumpp
This book is not as good as Iceland's Bell, my favorite Laxness, but still worth reading. It's about an Icelandic farmer who gives his daughter's poney to the king of Denmark and then is sent by his indignant wife to retrieve it. Along the way he converts to Mormonism and voyages to Utah where he sends for his family to join him. A wonderful series of comedic misadventures delivered with a light touch and rendered in a rhythmic cadence that, stylistically, manages to be unassuming and yet rigoro ...more
David Peters
After nursing this for almost two years - I read about a page a week on Sundays waiting for church to start - I took it with me on vacation and finished the last 200 or so pages in a day.

Very good and some good discussion points for a book group. It reminded me a little of a threshed out Alchemist; travel the world to only fing your Paradise right there at home.

It is also fun if you are a little familiar with both Iceland and Mormons, as I just happen to be.
Andrea
Written by Nobel prize winning Iceland author Halldor Laxness. The main character of the book leaves his family in rural Iceland for fundamentalist Mormon life in Utah. A satire true to Iceland and critical of religion.
Katie
The book is a wonderful story, however, I gave it 4 stars because the translation is not as good as Independent People or Iceland's Bell. You can tell, at times, that it is verbatim translation from Icelandic.
Mary
I had always wanted to read this highly regarded Icelandic author and this book was well written and slyly funny. Also learned about the community of Icelanders who settled in Utah and converted to Mormonism.
Kiera Beddes
It was interesting. It is a good understanding of Scandinavian immigrants and and interesting insight into the early Mormon doctrine. But it wasn't my favorite thing I have ever read.
Ben
Iceland + Mormons should equal something amazing, but I was disappointed. The story is steady and understated, exactly the kind of story I don't like that much.
Shauna
Interesting book about Icelandic Mormon converts who immigrated to Spanish Fork, Utah.
Cheryl
Beautifully written and engaging story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one!
Elisabeth
Weird to say the least. It sounds like a fable of sorts in pioneer times with a large dose of Mormon theology and polygamy thrown in. From the last paragraphs of the book: "I have found the truth, and the land in which it lives. And that is assuredly very important. But now the most important thins is to build up this wall again." And then Steinar goes on doing just what he did at the beginning of the book.
I read it because a friend picked it up on a trip to Iceland and wanted to discuss it. Thi
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Eric
After visiting Iceland, images of spare farms below glacial cliffs and moss-covered lava fields filled my mind. The old turf houses came alive in this story that connects southern Iceland with Spanish Fork, Utah. It connects a moneyless 19th century Icelandic poverty with the visionary 19th-century territory governed by Brigham Young. I need to read more Laxness.
Riley
A very strange book that has a lot of charm. There's something very touching about the endurance of Halldor Laxness' characters in the stark world they inhabit.

One turn of phrase I liked:

"And when she smiled there were no teeth to be seen, just a maternal warmth that would, however, scarcely have appealed to anyone but infants; and perhaps men under sentence of death."
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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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