Review Some Facts
“Ef maður vill stela í þjófafélagi, þá verður að stela samkvæmt lögum; og helst að hafa tekið þátt í því að setja lögin sjálfur.” H. K. Laxness Nóbelsverðlauna hafi í bókmenntum
“If you want to steal in a thieves company, then ýou have to steal by law; and preferably to have participated in placing the law yourself. ” (Atomic Station 1948) H. K. Laxness Nobel Prise Litterature
Although it is sixty years since it was written that Icelandic satire remains a potent tale of political and class absurdity. Narrated by Ugla – a self defined “clod-hopper”, ‘crude and clumping girl from the north’ – who has moved to the city to act as housemaid for her local Member of Parliament and learn the harmonium, this tale of political and social hypocrisy centers on a decision to sell part of the country to provide a US/NATO airbase as part of Cold War anti-Soviet politics. Amid the ensuring furore, the left claims its class position while the government seems to rouse up nationalist favor to obscure its ‘sale of the nation’.
This crude description fails to do the novel justice, as Ugla appears as both wide-eyed ingénue bewildered by the goings on around her, and the most disciplined and rational person in a world that seems irrational. Her narrator’s voice shifts between bewildered outsider, naive observer and sharp critic, often in the same paragraph – she is sharp voice in literature and an admirable character.
The world she finds herself in piles seeming irrationality on absurdity: the political right claims to be defending the nation while selling it off.