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.
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|Title of History eBook: World Light|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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of the Deity
He was standing on the foreshore below the farm with the oyster catchers and purple sandpipers, watching the waves soughing in and out. He was probably shirking. He was a foster child, and therefore the life in his heart was a separate life, a different blood, without relationship to the others. He was not part of anything, he was on the outside, and there was often an emptiness around him. And long ago he had begun to yearn for some indefinable solace. This narrow bay with its small blue shells and the waves gently rippling in over the sand, with the cliffs on one side and a green headland on the other--this was his friend. It was called Ljósavík.
Did he have no one, then? Was no one kind to him except this little bay? No, no one was kind to him. But on the other hand, no one was downright unkind to him, not so that he had to fear for his life. That did not come until later. When he was teased, the teasing was mostly in fun; the difficulty was in knowing how to take it. When he was thrashed, the thrashing arose from necessity; it was Justice. But there were many things which did not concern him, thank goodness. For instance the elder brother, Jónas, who owned several sheep and a share in a fishing boat, once threw a basin of water over his mother, Kamarilla, as she was going down the stairs one evening. That was nothing to be concerned about. But when the younger brother, Júst, who was also a sheep-farmer and boat-owner, amused himself by picking him up by the ears because it was such fun finding out how much pain the dear little chap could stand, that did concern him, unfortunately.
In springtime the brot...