World Light by Halldor Laxness

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Synopsis

As an unloved foster child on a farm in rural Iceland, Olaf Karason has only one consolation: the belief that one day he will be a great poet. The indifference and contempt of most of the people around him only reinforces his sense of destiny, for in Iceland poets are as likely to be scorned as they are to be revered. Over the ensuing years, Olaf comes to lead the paradigmatic poet’s life of poverty, loneliness, ruinous love affairs and sexual scandal. But he will never attain anything like greatness.
As imagined by Nobel Prize winner Halldor Laxness in this magnificently humane novel, what might be cruel farce achieves pathos and genuine exaltation. For as Olaf’s ambition drives him onward–and into the orbits of an unstable spiritualist, a shady entrepreneur, and several susceptible women–World Light demonstrates how the creative spirit can survive in even the most crushing environment and even the most unpromising human vessel.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Halldor Laxness

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Halldór Laxness was born near Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1902. His first novel was published when he was seventeen. The undisputed master of contemporary Icelandic fiction and one of the outstanding novelists of the century, he has written more than sixty books, including novels short stories, essays, poems, plays and memoirs. In 1955 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 1998.
 
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 626 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The stylistic clarity and potent dramatic irony that Laxness had imbibed from the medieval Icelandic sagas are vigorously displayed in masterly tableaux depicting Olafur’s Dickensian childhood (as an orphaned parish ward), conflicted and transformative relationships with commercially and politica...

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Publishers Weekly

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Solitude and its consolations-fleeting moments of divine and earthly illumination-are the central themes of World Light, a massive novel by the Icelandic writer and Nobel laureate Halld""r Laxness.

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