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Halldor Laxness
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    (April 23, 1902-February 8, 1998)
    Born in Reykjavík, Iceland
    Birth name was Halldór Guðjónsson
    Novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist
    Wrote the novels ‘The Great Weaver from Kashmir’ (1927), ‘Independent People’ (two volumes, 1934-35), ‘World Light’ (four volumes, 1937-40), ‘Iceland’s Bell’ (three volumes, 1943-46), ‘The Atom Station’ (1948), ‘The Fish Can Sing’ (1957), and ‘Christianity at the Glacier’ (1966)
    Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (1955)
    He dropped out of high school.
    He entered a monastery, but left without taking orders.
    He spent two years in America trying to become a Hollywood screenwriter without success (1927-29).
    During a tour of the Soviet Union, he witnessed one of Stalin’s purge trials (1938) and wrote that the defendants’ guilt or innocence was immaterial, since sacrifices had to be made to the cause of the revolution.
    One benefit of his time in the monastery: he adopted a much easier to spell last name when he was confirmed in the Roman Catholic church.
    He was arrested and his passport seized after he published an article critical of the US; Upton Sinclair and the ACLU had to intervene to get the charges dropped (1929).
    The initial printing of ‘The Atom Station’ sold out on the day of publication, a first in Icelandic history.
    He grew disenchanted with the Soviet Union after the suppression of the Hungarian revolt (1956).
    He was married to his second wife, Auour Sveinsdottir, for 53 years until his death.

Credit: C. Fishel

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