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Review of The Great Weaver of Kashmir from Kristján Albertsson

Finally, finally, an imposing work of fiction, which rises like a cliff from the flatness of Icelandic poetry and fiction of recent years!  Iceland has gained a new master novelist, and we are certainly bound to admit that with joy.  Halldór K. Laxness wrote this novel in his 24th year.  I doubt that it happens once in a quarter century that a writer so young composes as brilliant a work as this saga of his.  It has never before happened at latitude 64 degrees north.

The Great Weaver from Kashmir is no masterpiece but its style is rare and elegant.  It has its faults in many places, but in general it is more robust, passionate, spiritual, alive, inspiring, wild, true, and youthful than any other Icelandic novel.  The development of the Icelandic novelistic style has taken a half-century leap with this book of H.K.L.  At times its character descriptions are amateurish and unconvincing, but overall they are incredibly well done.  Steinn Elliði, Diljá, Madam Jófríður, Örnólfur, the Ylfingamóðir, into all of these characters the writer has blown a warm and human living spirit; their faces are clear, picturesque, memorable.  The novel’s spirit is in some places affected, false, overworked, the metaphors flavorless or foul… but this is caused by the writer’s fallible taste, and not by his infertile imagination.  His work is in fact ripe with outstanding poetic ideas, that burst forth as if from nowhere and witness to his genius.

H.K.L has been influenced strongly by they style and world-view of many of the main writers of Europe of recent times such as Tolstoy, Strindberg, d’Annunzio, Hamsun, Wilde, Jóhannes V. Jenssen and others.  He has also learned from younger, less known French writers and from and the style and form of Þórbergur Þórðarson.  This is no surprise:  even the most unlearned writers in the world have benefited from the rich influence of older writers.  As a whole his work bears witness to an independent and awesome personality, a copious intelligence, a great cultivation of his own talents.

Kristján Albertsson, Vaka 1927, review of The Great Weaver from Kashmir

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