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Halldor Laxness (1902 – 1998)


Born Halldór Gu?jónsson, was a 20th century Icelandic author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955.
Halldor Laxness
One of the loveliest and most magnificent events that can happen in the country is when ponies take fright, particularly in a herd. A meadow-pippit has flown past. The ponies' fear is at first blended with play, even with mockery, amusement touched with a shudder, not unlike the behavior of the mentally ill. They trot as if they were retreating from a slow-moving stream of fire, but with lightning in every action, storm in every nerve; swinging their heads everywhere as if the front of their necks were made of elastic, gracefully flirting their tails. They can even pause for a moment, and start biting and boxing, with those romantic mating cries of theirs. Then all at once it is as if the fire has started flowing right under these strange creatures, they charge away like a storm incarnate over scree and bogs and landslides, dipping the tips of their toes for a fractional moment into the furnace that blazes beneath their hooves, cutting across waterfalls, gullys, and boulders, galloping steeply for a while until they stand trapped at last on some ledge high in the mountaintops, there to die and be eaten by birds.
Laxness quotes
Anyone who doesn't know others doesn't know himself.
Laxness
Other children had fathers and mothers and honored them, and they prospered and lived to a ripe old age; but he was often bitter towards his father and mother and dishonored them in his heart. His mother had cuckolded his father, and his father had betrayed his mother, and both of them had betrayed the boy. The only consolation was that he had a Father in heaven. And yet—it would have been better to have a father on earth.




Laxness Halldor quotes
When I discovered that history is a fable, and a poor one at that, I started looking for a better fable, and found theology.
Laxness Halldor
Slowly, slowly winter day opens his arctic eye.
Halldor Laxness quotes
I say, and have always said, and will always say: the fish that does not sing throughout the whole world is a dead fish.
Halldor Laxness
I know perfectly well that I am nothing to anyone. But the middle finger is no longer than the pinky if one measures both against infinity; or if one clenches one's fist . . . . Even if a mouse came to me and said that it was going to fly over the ocean, and an eagle said it was thinking of digging itself a hole in the ground, I would say, 'Go ahead.'
Laxness Halldor quotes
The poet felt completely free now as he stood there on the deck in his collar and boots, sailing past new and ever newer districts; even if he did not own this land's resources, he owned its beauty.
Laxness
You can take everything from me except the freedom to look up at the sky occasionally.
Laxness Halldor
And so it went on, day after day. This was not the first time that those who had at first smiled at him turned their backs on him and began to think of themselves isntead of thinking of him. Sometimes it was as if you understood people's souls; a few days later, you understood nothing. One day you were kissed, and it meant everything; next day, you were not kissed . . . . He consoled himself by looking at his exercise books with the poems approaching the thousand total soon, and more. Perhaps the world would some day understand that the heart existed. Some day.
Halldor Laxness
Where the glacier meets the sky, the land ceases to be earthly, and the earth becomes one with the heavens; no sorrows live there anymore, and therefore joy is not necessary; beauty alone reigns there, beyond all demands.




Halldor Laxness quotes
When Icelanders were worthy of the name, it was considered an accepted duty to avenge with the sword the sort of crime you have committed against my family. It's a bitter thing to be living at a time when one many not challenge to single combat the man who has disgraced one's family, and carve a blood-eagle on his back!
Halldor Laxness
Never did these thanes of hell escape their just deserts. No one ever heard of Harekur or Gongu-Hrolfur or Bernotus being worsted in the final struggle. In the same way no one will be able to say that Bjartur of Summerhouses ever got the worst of it in his world war with the country's specters, no matter how often he might tumble over a precipice or roll head over heels down a gully - "while there's a breath left in my nostrils, it will never keep me down, no matter how hard it blows."
Laxness quotes
Over verdant lowlands cut by the deep streamwaters of the south hangs a peculiar gloom. Every eye is stifled by the clouds that block the sight of the sun, every voice is muffled like the chirps of fleeing birds, every quasi-movement sluggish. Children must not laugh, no attention must be drawn to the fact that a man exists, one must not provoke the powers with frivolity—do nothing but prowl along, furtively, lowly. Maybe the Godhead had not yet struck its final blow, an unexpiated sin might still fester somewhere, perhaps there still lurked worms that needed to be crushed.
Laxness Halldor
He who weeps does not die; weeping is a sign of life; weep, and your life is worth something again.
Laxness Halldor quotes
I didn't expect you to have learnt to smile yet. When one is born, one only knows how to cry. It's only very gradually that one learns to smile.
Halldor Laxness
[T]o anyone who weeps, life has some importance.
Halldor Laxness quotes
It is a waste of words to try to impute to the Creator democratic ideas or social virtues; or to think that one can move Him with weeping and wailing, and persuade Him with logic and legal quibbles. Nothing is so pointless as words.
Halldor Laxness
It makes no difference where one sleeps in God's City of Zion, the air is everywhere just as all-embracingly pleasing.
Laxness Halldor
You asked me whether you could learn to sing. I don't know. It could well be that you have the makings of a singer. It could well be that the world will give you the best that it has: glory, power, honor, what else is there? Palaces and parks, perhaps? Or merry meadows? And then what?


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