Wayward Heroes (Paperback)

By Halldor Laxness, Phillip Roughton (Translated by)

Archipelago, 9780914671091, 472pp.

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

List Price: 20.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

Published in 1952, Wayward Heroes is part of the body of works for which Laxness was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1955. It is a masterfully written tragicomedy about the oath-brothers Thorgeir and Thormod, inspired by the old Icelandic sagas Saga of the Sworn Brothers and Saga of Saint Olaf. The brothers fight for glory, raid for treasure, and seduce women against the backdrop of a new cult of Christianity. But where the old sagas depict their heroes as glorious champions, Laxness does the opposite. As Thormod avenges Thorgeir's death, he demonstrates the senselessness of violence and the endlessly cyclical nature of obsession.


About the Author

Halldór Laxness (1902-1998) is the undisputed master of modern Icelandic fiction. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955 "for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland." His body of work includes novels, essays, poems, plays, stories, and memoirs: more than sixty books in all. His works available in English include Independent People, The Fish Can Sing, World Light, Under the Glacier, Iceland's Bell, and Paradise Reclaimed.

About the translator:
Philip Roughton's translation of Iceland's Bell received the American-Scandinavian Foundation Translation Prize in 2001 and second prize in the 2000 BCLA John Dryden Translation Competition. His translation of Halldór Guðmundsson's The Islander: A Biography of Halldór Laxness was recently released in the United Kingdom.


Praise For Wayward Heroes

Praise for Wayward Heroes:


"Brilliant, bleak, uproariously funny, and still alarmingly prescient, Wayward Heroes belongs in the pantheon of the antiwar novel alongside such touchstones as Slaughterhouse-Five and Catch-22. . . . Wayward Heroes, with its despotic kings, hypocrite Christians, and bloodthirsty mercenaries, is not merely a medieval epic ... but a trenchant critique of that timeless avaricious urge we have grown regrettably accustomed to calling 'market forces.' ... Laxness looked from the ancient literature of his homeland to the novelties and cataclysms of the modern world around him, only to discover how little had changed in a thousand years." -- Harper's Magazine

"Two sworn brothers wage a quixotic battle against their time and place in Nobel-winner Laxness’s rich, impressive novel... Laxness revises and renews the bloody sagas of Icelandic tradition, producing not just a spectacular historical novel but one of coal-dark humor and psychological depth."  -- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"A welcome, major contribution to modern Nordic literature in translation and a pleasure to read." -- Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"Laxness is a beacon in twentieth-century literature, a writer of splendid originality, wit, and feeling." — Alice Munro

"Laxness brought the Icelandic novel out from the sagas' shadow…to read Laxness is also to understand why he haunts Iceland—he writes the unearthly prose of a poet cased in the perfection of a shell of plot, wit, and clarity." — The Guardian

"The qualities of the sagas pervade his writing, and particularly a kind of humor – oblique, stylized and childlike – that can be found in no other contemporary writer." — The Atlantic Monthly

"Laxness habitually combines the magical and the mundane, writing with grace and a quiet humor that takes awhile to notice but, once detected, feels ever present…[A]ll his narratives…have a strange and mesmerizing power, moving almost imperceptibly at first, then with glacial force." — Richard Rayner, LA Times

"One quality that makes Laxness’s novels so morally uplifting is their air of tender but urgent gratitude. While his tone can vary widely from book to book…the reader consistently feels that the books are conceived in a spirit of homage; they are some of the world’s most substantial thank-you notes." — Brad Leithauser, The New York Review of Books

"An impressive translation of eleventh-century diction steeped with kennings, Wayward Heroes is a journey in its own right." — Harvard Review

"[A] remarkable feat of both authorship and translation... It’s this excellent translation that allows Wayward Heroes to find relevance with contemporary readers and ring true — politically and socially — as it did in 1955 and medieval Iceland. The naivety of youthful arrogance, the irredeemable quest for glory through bloodshed and senseless violence, the power games of relationships, are all a testament to the magic and sadness of Laxness’ storytelling abilities." — The Culture Trip

Praise for Halldor Laxness:


   • "Laxness is a beacon in twentieth-century literature, a writer of splendid originality, wit, and feeling." -- Alice Munro

   • "Laxness brought the Icelandic novel out from the sagas' shadow...to read Laxness is also to understand why he haunts Iceland--he writes the unearthly prose of a poet cased in the perfection of a shell of plot, wit, and clarity." -- The Guardian

   • "The qualities of the sagas pervade his writing, and particularly a kind of humor--oblique, stylized and childlike--that can be found in no other contemporary writer." -- The Atlantic Monthly

   • "Laxness habitually combines the magical and the mundane, writing with grace and a quiet humor that takes awhile to notice but, once detected, feels ever present...All his narratives...have a strange and mesmerizing power, moving almost imperceptibly at first, then with glacial force." -- LA Times

   • "One of the world's most unusual, skilled and visionary novelists." -- Jane Smiley