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Wasteland with Words: A Social History of…
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Wasteland with Words: A Social History of Iceland (edição: 2010)

de Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon (Autor)

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262724,498 (3.75)1
Iceland is an enigmatic island country marked by contradiction: it's a part of Europe, yet separated from it by the Atlantic Ocean; it's seemingly inhospitable, yet home to more than 300,000. Wasteland with Words explores these paradoxes to uncover the mystery of Iceland. In Wasteland with Words Sigurdur Gylfi Magnússon presents a wide-ranging and detailed analysis of the island's history that examines the evolution and transformation of Icelandic culture while investigating the literary and historical factors that created the rich cultural heritage enjoyed by Icelanders today. Magnússon explains how a nineteenth-century economy based on the industries of fishing and agriculture--one of the poorest in Europe--grew to become a disproportionately large economic power in the late twentieth century, while retaining its strong sense of cultural identity. Bringing the story up to the present, he assesses the recent economic and political collapse of the country and how Iceland has coped. Throughout Magnússon seeks to chart the vast changes in this country's history through the impact and effect on the Icelandic people themselves. Up-to-date and fascinating, Wasteland with Words is a comprehensive study of the island's cultural and historical development, from tiny fishing settlements to a global economic power.… (mais)
Membro:JustinAllanSpencer
Título:Wasteland with Words: A Social History of Iceland
Autores:Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon (Autor)
Informação:Reaktion Books (2010), Edition: First Edition, 288 pages
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Wasteland with Words: A Social History of Iceland de Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon

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"Wasteland with Words" helped me make sense of the Icelandic people's progression from early settlement to the Viking and saga eras, through the extended Middle Ages' slow modernization to the rapid development following World War II. I feel like I came to know a few of the Icelanders whose autobiographical writings are featured, the most memorable of them having written in the nineteenth century. I appreciated the personalized approach, and some chapters, especially those dealing with children and death, had quite the emotional impact. I came to admire the people who stoically struggled through such unforgiving times and environmental factors. At times, though, the writing felt a bit tedious and some themes and characteristics of the Icelanders seemed to have been needlessly repeated over a number of chapters. I was also a bit surprised by the tone of the closing chapter, which deals with the 2008 financial crisis. While most of the blame is appropriately placed on the politicians and business leaders that promoted and arrogantly flaunted the financial prowess of the tiny nation leading up to the crash, Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon's psychoanalysis suggests an inferiority complex that compels the Icelanders to push themselves to perform so well on the global financial stage that the outcome can only be failure and ruin. This may all be historically accurate, but I felt some disconnect between the stoic, survivalist nationalists that seemed to encompass most of this book and the overly confident, consumerist, apparently afflicted citizenry of the last chapter whose latent sense of inferiority led the country to the financial brink. The gap between the Icelanders of old, featured in most of the book, was not quite adequately linked (logically and emotionally) to the Icelanders discussed in the last chapter or two. Nevertheless, I felt connected to many of the people featured in these pages and I enjoyed the unique perspective offered by the book's scattered and numerous autobiographical vignettes. The book fueled my fascination with this tiny North Atlantic nation and its amazing people, and I hope more books of this kind are published in the future. ( )
1 vote NordicT | Nov 2, 2013 |
The book offers a social history of Iceland from the 18th century to the present, told through the words of Iceland's peasant citizens taken from their journals, letters, autobiographies, and chronicles. The material is riveting and heart-rending, especially that from the dark era of poverty and despair in the 19th century.

The book surprised me in another way - it's one of those rarities, a history book that is a compelling read. It was hard to put it down, turn out the light, and go to sleep. My interest flagged only near the end, when, presumably, there was less folk material available to be quoted.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Iceland's history and culture, regardless of which historical period. ( )
  talkingdog | Jul 13, 2010 |
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There are moments so beautiful, so rich in delight, that the tongue has no words, and the heart as it were shuts itself off against the articulation of emotion, and one of these has always come over me when I have been with you. (Quote from a 19th century letter from Níels Jónsson to his betrothed Guðrún Bjarnadóttir.)
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Iceland is an enigmatic island country marked by contradiction: it's a part of Europe, yet separated from it by the Atlantic Ocean; it's seemingly inhospitable, yet home to more than 300,000. Wasteland with Words explores these paradoxes to uncover the mystery of Iceland. In Wasteland with Words Sigurdur Gylfi Magnússon presents a wide-ranging and detailed analysis of the island's history that examines the evolution and transformation of Icelandic culture while investigating the literary and historical factors that created the rich cultural heritage enjoyed by Icelanders today. Magnússon explains how a nineteenth-century economy based on the industries of fishing and agriculture--one of the poorest in Europe--grew to become a disproportionately large economic power in the late twentieth century, while retaining its strong sense of cultural identity. Bringing the story up to the present, he assesses the recent economic and political collapse of the country and how Iceland has coped. Throughout Magnússon seeks to chart the vast changes in this country's history through the impact and effect on the Icelandic people themselves. Up-to-date and fascinating, Wasteland with Words is a comprehensive study of the island's cultural and historical development, from tiny fishing settlements to a global economic power.

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