Mar 30, 2006

My Own Father, and I quote:

Dear Daughter: So sorry you are going nuts in the head! Ann tells me this is a wonderful thing you are doing! She is going nuts in the head too! How does one post comments on the blog web? I would like to have what I say posted and not just directed to you alone. The Hawaiian music is just right for that cold, cold island. I hope this does not mean the whole world is going cold and crazy. Actually it is fun that you are getting so worked up over this trip. No other trip to anywhere with anyone that I know has ever shown such spirit. WAY TO GO!


Icelanders are very poetic, even evocative. In the Reykjavik Grapevine Paul Fontaine-Nikolov quotes his guide: "As the solar wind from the sun penetrates the earth’s magnetic belt, its light builds slowly, eventually reaching a climax that can fill the whole sky."

Of course, you must visit when the weather is cold and crisp in order to see the Aurora Borealis. That means, NOT SUMMER!

W.H. Auden: What's the Buzz?

Rating: 4 puffins

Letters from Iceland was published in 1937. Wystan Hugh Auden (age 29) and Louis Macneice alternate the composition of these "memoirs" of their trip. What better way to engage the reader's attention than to begin the book with a letter, in poetic form, to Lord Byron?

Excuse, my lord, the liberty I take
In thus addressing you. I know that you
Will pay the price of authorship and make
The allowances an author has to do.
A poet's fan-mail will be nothing new.


I hope this reaches you in your abode,
This letter that's already far too long,
...As to its length, I tell myself you'll need it,
You've all eternity in which to read it.

My personal favorite: "Hetty to Nancy"-- a letter from an English gentlewoman in the wilds of Iceland, camping with Girl Guides and Formidable Women. This is a literary device that is effective and perfectly convincing. Macniece was the author, and he fooled me. It also serves to lessen the self-indulgence of the rest of the book.

Other features: price of tours, guides, food, rentals; quotes from other Icelandic travelers over the centuries; photographs; a dialogue with the ghost of Grettir; conversations with Icelanders; rummy, horseback riding, hiking and bus trips.

It is disturbing to read the numerous references to Nazi Germany. It gave me an eerie feeling of forbodeing to have the ability--
that Auden and Macniece lacked-- to foresee the future.

Opinionated, yes; occasionally tedious, yes ; compelling, funny, evocative: yes, yes, yes!

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