Paradise Reclaimed a novel by Halldór Laxness, Icelandic Author and Nobel Laureate was first published in Icelandic; Paradisarheimt, Helgafell, Reykjavík, 1960. It was translated into English by Magnus Magnusson, and published by Methuen, London, 1962 and Crowell, New York, 1962, Vinatge International, New York, 2002, introduction by Jane Smiley.
Halldór Kiljan Laxness was unquestionably Iceland's foremost literary figure of the 20th century. Born in Reykjavík in 1902, then just a small town with only one tenth of the country's population, he moved with his family at an early age to the farm Laxness in Mosfellsbær, from where he drew his surname. In 1955 Laxness was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, the first and only time an Icelander has received the award. Despite his ups and downs with the Icelandic public, due to his outspoken views as well as the nature of his writings, that honor served to cement his place among Icelanders as one of the nation's greatest writers ever. In his acceptance speech he said; “I am thinking, too, of that community of one hundred and fifty thousand men and women who form the book-loving nation that we Icelanders are. From the very first, my countrymen have followed my literary career, now criticizing, now praising my work, but hardly ever letting a single word be buried in indifference. Like a sensitive instrument that records every sound, they have reacted with pleasure or displeasure to every word I have written. It is a great good fortune for an author to be born into a nation so steeped in centuries of poetry and literary tradition.
Paradise Reclaimed is a touching story based on the experiences and writings of Eiríkur Ólafsson and Þórður Diðriksson. Eiríkur was born at Steinar, Rangarvallasysla, Iceland. He was a farmer, writer and also owned a restaurant in Iceland. Eiríkur converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1881. Eiríkur and his wife Runhildur Runólfsdóttir left for Utah shortly after they were baptized. Þórður was born at Holmar, Kross, Rangarvallasysla, Iceland. Þórður went to Copenhagen, Denmark to learn the trade of goldsmith. While in Copenhagen he met Mormon missionaries, accepted their message, and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was baptized in 1855. Þórður immigrated to Utah in 1856. Eiríkur Ólafsson the main character in the book takes on the name of Steinar Steinsson, Þórður Diðriksson is Bishop Didrik.
Paradise Reclaimed is a must read for the descendants and the students of the Icelandic emigrants to Utah.
President of Iceland
President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, will run for a record fifth term in office in Iceland’s June’s election. In a statement to the press he said that he has changed his mind on the decision not to run, which he announced in his New Year’s address. The President’s statement also makes an unusual plea for understanding from the electorate if he decides to call an early election once stability has returned to the country, in the event that he is re-elected in June.
Dancing with the Stars
According to scientists, the increased activity is caused by solar flares which eject charges of atoms and electrons into space usually reach the Earth a day or two later. During this travel period, these flares grow in intensity, before finally reaching the Earth’s atmosphere. This collision with the Earth’s air molecules then causes energy in the form of spectacular lights to be emitted.
Due to Iceland’s location on the cusp of the Arctic Circle, these Northern Lights shows are set to be incredible. Iceland is known for being a hub for Northern Lights activity during the winter and spring months.
Emigrant of the Month
Gudrun was born 14 August 1816 at Kanastadir, Vodmulastadir, Rangarvalla. Her parents are Jon Arnason, born in 1772 at Deild, Teigur i Fljothlid, Rangarvalla, died 18 February 1841 at Bakki, Kross, Rangarvalla; and Thorgerdur Loftsdottir, born in 1777, a husmodir in Kanastodir, Vodmulastadir, Rangarvalla; and Bakki, Kross, Rangarvalla, died 9 March 1859 in Bakki, Kross, Rangarvalla.
Gudrun married Einar Bjarnason 30 September 1847. Einar was born 4 March 1809 at Geirland, Kirkjubaejarkluastur, Vestur Skaftafell, died 25 November 1890 in Hrifunesi Asar i Skaftartunga, Vestur Skaftafell. They had five children: Jon, Bjarni, Einar, Helga and Thorgerdur.
Gudrun’s brother Loftur had became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrated to Utah in 1857. Loftur returned to Iceland in 1873 as a missionary for his new church. Gudrun converted to Mormonism and in 1874 left her husband and immigrated to Utah with her two daughters, Helga and Thorgerdur, and a foster daughter, Groa Thorlaksdottir. Gudrun was not well and it was hoped that her health would improve in Utah. However, she became worse and unable to return to Iceland as she had planned. Her husband sent their son Gisli to Utah to bring her and their daughters back to Iceland, but all remained in Utah.
Gudrun died 4 December 1878 and is buried in the Spanish Fork City Cemetery. In Utah she was known as Gudrun Bearnson.