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Die Islandglocke
 
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Halldór Laxness
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Die Islandglocke

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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  874 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Sometimes grim, sometimes uproarious, and always captivating, Iceland's Bell by Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness is at once an updating of the traditional Icelandic saga and a caustic social satire. At the close of the 17th century, Iceland is an oppressed Danish colony, suffering under extreme poverty, famine, and plague. A farmer and accused cord-thief named Jón Hreggviðss ...more
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Published (first published 1943)
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Jim
There are several Icelands in history. Best known is the Iceland of the Vikings, roughly from the time of settlement in the 9th century to the transfer of the country to the Norwegian King Haakon in the 13th century. Then we skip the better part of a millennium to come to the hip modern Iceland, land of the runtur and of bankruptcy.

In between those two extremes was the Iceland of poverty and servitude. The Danes took over Iceland from the Norwegians and installed their merchants, gifting them w
...more
Jann
I was recently in Iceland for a couple of days. A tour guide happened to be very literary and he strongly recommended the books by Nobel Prize winner, Halldor Laxness. He even pulled the van into a tourist stop with a tiny book shop way out in Iceland's amazingly beautiful wilderness, so that I could get a book to begin reading immediately. I am so glad he did. This was truly a brilliant novel, and a fascinating glimpse into Iceland's history---a history that I personally was completely uneducat ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is my third year with a group here in GoodReads called The World's Literature. In 2012 we read Japan, last year we read Turkey (which started me on all kinds of paths), and this year (2014), Iceland will be our theme. It is fitting that we started with a novel by Laxness, the only Icelandic citizen to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

This is the story of Iceland during the 17th and 18th centuries, when it was poverty-stricken and controlled by Denmark. The bias against Icelanders c
...more
João Carlos
O escritor islandês Halldór Laxnees (1902-1998), Prémio Nobel da Literatura em 1955, publicou “O Sino da Islândia” em 1943.
No século XVII a Dinamarca exerce sobre a Islândia uma força repressiva e dominadora, oprimindo um povo e consequentemente uma população a viver na pobreza e na miséria extrema, que luta desesperadamente pela sobrevivência física e emocional.
As três personagens principais: Jón Hreggvidsson - um agricultor “ingénuo”, facilmente irritável, mas insubmisso perante os homens e a
...more
SilverRaindrops
While I admittedly learned quite a lot about Iceland and its people, I wouldn't want to read this book again, and I wouldn't recommend it either.

There is a difference between writing in great detail about hard or sad lives, and actually making the reader feel as devastated as the people in the book.
If the main characters meet other people, there is little or no impact on them at all and the conversations seem totally random.
I did have to look up a lot of things that were mentioned (and I lear
...more
McKenzie
I think I've officially become an Icelandophile, or at least obsessed with the works of Halldór Laxness. Iceland's Bell is written in the tradition of the sagas, presenting strong, stubborn, and independent characters whose paths intertwine over the course of many years as the result of seemingly innocuous occurrences. Set in the 17th and 18th centuries while Iceland suffered egregiously under the rule of Denmark, Iceland's Bell follows the actions of three main characters: Jón Hreggviðsson, a c ...more
Kallie
Aug 31, 2009 Kallie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in writing and European history
I've never read a better historical novel, free of anachronisms and sentimentality, witty yet never 'light history,' as are too many historical novels written these days. Laxness writes such vivid, complex characters and depiction of life in the 17th century, when Iceland was under the heel of the Danes -- scorned in every way yet unbowed. The narrative sags in places, but is well worth one's patience. Joh Hreggvissson, Snaefridur, Arnas Arnaeus, are all unforgettable. I will be reading more Lax ...more
Biblibio
What interesting about "Iceland's Bell" is that it deserves more. It's a complicated book to rate and review, if only because it was a complicated book to read. That said, readers with some free time on their hands and the need to tackle some of the Nobel masters should definitely look at "Iceland's Bell" as an option.

There are three stories in "Iceland's Bell" and its downfall starts there. On the one hand, all three have their interesting aspects and all three have fairly strong central charac
...more
Lobstergirl
Jun 05, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bowe Bergdahl
Shelves: own, fiction

This was full of gallows humor, which I appreciated. Otherwise the poverty, the hardscrabbleness (the description of an old women's bed near the beginning of the book is absolutely revolting), the infanticide, the disease, the floggings, the executions, would have been a bit hard to take.

At the novel's center are several criminal and civil cases which take years to resolve, making this a sort of 17th century Icelandic Bleak House.

But I never really warmed to the characters' lack of psychological
...more
Asma Fedosia
Tells a fascinating/spellbinding story of Iceland's difficult years in the 17-18th centuries, when the country and its trade are beholden to support Denmark, which displaced the island's Catholicism with Lutheranism. It's more the story of how characters rich or poor (dispensing authority or being the object of it) respond to curtailments to acquire their livelihood and to retain their proper honor in society. As if the Danish trade monopoly were not enough hardship, the Icelandic justice instit ...more
Mazel
Prix Nobel de Littérature 1955
*


1944, l’Islande est sur le point d’obtenir son indépendance.

Laxness publie la trilogie Íslandsklukkan, La cloche d’Islande : le destin de Jón Hreggviðsson, présumé assassin de l’envoyé du Roi.

Ce même envoyé qui, quelques jours plus tôt, a fait fondre la cloche de Þingvellir, symbole national de l’indépendance Islandaise.

Autour de Jón le vengeur gravitent plusieurs personnages, notamment Arnas Arnaeus, qui n’est autre qu’Árni Magnússon, l’un des héros de l’histoi
...more
Candice
Halldor Laxness is Iceland's Nobel-Prize winning author. I struggled reading this and at times became lost in all the characters. In addition, Icelandic people and place names can be very long and difficult to pronounce. But it was an interesting story, based on historical happenings. The book has already been summarized by other reviewers so I will just say a few things about what I liked. I thought some of the descriptions of the places and the situations were beautifully written. And the Icel ...more
Linda
This was a vexing book. I'm not sure if the problem was in translation or Mr. Laxness' prose. Many instances of shifting tenses drove me nuts. A paragraph of section would begin in the present tense and a few sentences later it had quietly morphed into past tense...which is how the book is presented.

Also, I had difficulty keeping my mind in the book. I suspect this is more from my own inexperience with dense prose of this nature than it is a fault of the book. Despite my difficulties understandi
...more
Nori
Confession: I only got maybe 50 pages into this ~400-pager -- not even the old college try, really. And reading it did make me feel like I was back in my Russian Novel lit class in college -- this is very much, as far as I could tell, in the style of the 19th-century Russians who wrote in ponderous detail about the lives of the sprightly, sassy, heavy-drinking, petty-crime-committing, living-off-the-salt-of-the-unforgiving-land peasants. If you like that sort of thing, this'll be right up your a ...more
Maggie
I wanted to like this book much more than I did. I recognized the massive amount of research the author must have done in order to write it and the skill with which he did so, but he never made me really care about these characters. There were times that I was really interested in the story, but they were too few and too short. I learned a lot about this period of history, so it was not a wasted journey, but it was a desperately grim trip.
Tara
I don't know how to describe this book. it is sort of a historical novel, but it is also part 17th century romance/thriller, though these are really inadequate descriptors. the story may not seem that thrilling or romantic, unless the reader can get down with the harsh reality of iceland under the danish boot. the harsh conditions described by Laxness are that which constitute the culture and its history that he is also describing. this makes the characters and the story interesting. the narrati ...more
Daniel
My third Laxness book - and a decent one at that - but not even close to "Independent People." This one is more of an adventure story, and the "innocents abroad" parts are a highlight. There's plenty of grim wit and gallows humor, if that's your thing. Also, it's packed with references to Icelandic literature and history: the endnotes provide a back story of their own. All the same, the pace was a bit slow and plodding. Perhaps a reader with a solid background in the historical context would hav ...more
Jeremy
I found Iceland's Bell to be a remarkable novel, comparable in power, scope and beauty to a classic like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Dead Souls or War and Peace. It is the story of life in a brutally oppressed arctic colony, so it is certainly filled with suffering and misery. But the quality of the time and place emerges clearly from its pages, enriched by distinctive and engaging individuals. The individual stories interact with the larger history beautifully, never losing sight of the huma ...more
Judy
Extremely well-written, but I found it very depressing. It was an "I want to slash my wrists" kind of book. I couldn't stand the way the people are treated by the occupying Danes, and how their love of their culture has been eroded. Laxness is such a good writer. You would have to be a good writer in order to take somebody on such an emotional roller-coaster.
Vlad
From the INTRODUCTION:

At first glance, Iceland's Bell has few strikes against it when it comes to attracting American readers. To begin with, there is the author's name. Who is Halldor Laxness anyway? And then there is that country in the title. Am I really going to settle into a long novel about Iceland of all places? And did we mention the story takes place in the 17th century and revolves around forty years of intractable civil and criminal litigation? Headed for the exits yet? If so, I have
...more
Trilby
Laxness has given us a crazy, wonderful, hysterical, silly account of an historical lawsuit in Iceland. Follow the misadventure of poor Jon Hreggvidsson as he gets kicked all over Europe by nasty upper crust rotters and smug Danes. My favorite Laxness novel...
Catherine
It took me a long time to get through the book because it just wasn't my cup of tea. I didn't connect with the characters and didn't feel anything for the plot. It's not badly written, it just didn't appeal to me.
Cat
This book was totally absorbing. It sounds boring, but isn't. Give it a shot- you won't regret it!
Katherine
*3.5 stars.
"The mire seemed to be endless and the travelers floundered for a good part of the night in this forecourt of Hell" (14).
" 'I beg my venerable excellencies to pay no attention to this she-creature…'" (18).
"…who here napped, freshly flogged, upon his bed" (19).
" 'I'm like every other nameless man, healthy today, dead tomorrow'" (32).
"He'd had little to do with women, mostly because of his lack of sheep, so he'd tried to remedy both shortages by resorting to sorcery, which was frequentl
...more
Stu_pdx
I enjoyed the story and the characters very much, especially Jón Hreggviðsson. It was very interesting and alarming to learn how difficult and grim life was for Icelanders in the 17th century. Sometimes story jumps around, and adds a little confusion to the story along with the unfamiliar places and words. Somebody please make this into a movie!
William Gerke
Dense, lyrical, evocative. Iceland's Bell is certainly not for everyone. Part satire, part history, part saga, and all love song to the endurance of the Icelandic people, Laxness tells the story of Farmer and cord-thief Jon Hreggvidsson who faces murder charges and find himself involved the star-crossed love affair between the beautiful, headstrong noblewoman, Snaefridur, and the antiquarian, aristocrat, and champion of social justice, Arnas Arnaeus.

Most of the characters are based on real Icela
...more
Mary
On the surface, the average reader will probably not want to go farther than 20 pages into Iceland's Bell. But, I would advise against giving up on it. It does take a little while to acquaint yourself with the author's style, but once you do, you will find his writing full of irony, sarcasm, and humor. And you will find yourself wanting to finish the story of Iceland through a reckless farmer, a fair maiden, and a powerful scholar. I especially enjoyed the book from my own trip to Iceland and wa ...more
Conrad
In reading this book, I was reminded of "Candide" by Voltaire. It has a similar feel to it in its use of humor and satire. I thought it was okay and somewhat interesting but it didn't grab me enough to want to finish it. Since it is divided into three separate tales, I made it through the first and started on the second before deciding to move on to more rewarding reading.
Czarny Pies
Sep 26, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Des gens qui veulent comprendre le colonialisme en milieu de la mer du nord.
Recommended to Czarny by: Committée de Selection, Prix Nobel de Litterature
Shelves: scandinavian-lit
Iceland's Bell n'est pas le roman le plus connue de ce laureate du Prix Nobel de 1955. Cet honneur va a Gens Independent. Cependant Iceland's Bell est mon favori. Tout le monde crie contre le colonialism. Tres peu decrit la bête et ses methodes avec autant de precision que celle de cet écrivain rouge foncé.
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The World's Liter...: janúar: Halldór Laxness, "Iceland's Bell" 61 49 Feb 02, 2014 09:44AM  
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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
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“Vont er þeirra ránglæti, verra þeirra réttlæti.” 6 likes
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