The Iceland Guide

Companion websites

The Globe Travel Bookshop
This site gives access to numerous online bookshops around the world that sell travel books. There are also links to second-hand bookshops and to publishers

The Globe Travel Shop
Accommodation and transport around the globe. And lots more interesting things!

The Globe Travel Guide
Illustrated travel articles about various countries, including France, Iceland, Scotland and the USA.

The Scotland Guide
Illustrated encyclopaedia articles on Scotland. At present there are over 200 articles about Glasgow, the country`s biggest city. The articles are based on the guidebook The Glasgow Guide.



Books by David Williams
These include travel guides to Iceland and Scotland.

The land and the people

Culture: Modern literature

Poetry remains a most popular form of self-expression for the Icelanders. Traditional poetry is still represented by the rímur mentioned earlier, whose elaborateness has been increased and refined over the years. More than 2,000 different rhyming schemes have now been recorded and the most complicated of rímur (called sléttubönd and hringhenda) contain stanzas which can be read backwards as well as forwards (and, very occasionally, upwards and downwards!). Like skaldic verse, from which they are descended, these verses are demonstrations of linguistic virtuosity rather than vehicles for poetic truth.

The greatest modern traditional poet, writing in a more serious vein, is the lyricist Tómas Guðmundsson, but serious traditional poetry is now the exception more than the rule. It has been increasingly replaced by modernist poetry, which tends to be less immediately accessible than its traditional counterpart, since each poet seeks to establish his own personal, innovative vocabulary of images, language and symbol, rather than drawing on a well–established convention. Sigfús Daðason, Hannes Pétursson and Thorsteinn frá Hamri stand out as the leading figures (among many contemporaries) in the modernist generation of Icelandic poets. Most modern Icelandic poets share a concern, often expressed in their work, that Iceland's traditional way of life is being eroded by imported Western values.

In prose, the epic, narrative traditions of the Sagas dominated new fiction until the 1960s, in part perhaps because the supreme novelist of the age, Haldór Laxness (the 1955 Nobel Prizewinner for Literature) remained firmly in that tradition. Written in the 1930s and 40s, his novels Independent People and The Bell of Iceland are arguably the finest evocations of Iceland to have been written since the Sagas, and his satirical novel The Atom Station (1948) was the most controversial Icelandic publication of its time.

In the mid–1960s women writers began for the first time to contribute to Iceland's literary output, and the prevailing conservatism in fiction was finally shattered by Guðberger Bergsson novel Tómas Jónsson Bestseller (1966), whose use of monologue, breaking away from the conventional narrative form, has opened up a whole new range of possibilities for Icelandic fiction.

The Icelanders retain their extraordinary passion for books of all kinds, and this enthusiasm supports a flourishing publishing industry. Around six hundred different books are published every year in Iceland, an impressive statistic for a country with a population of only 235,000.

What`s in the website ?


The land and the people

The first explorers
The Age of the Settlement
The conversion to Christianity
The discovery of Greenland and America
The collapse of the Commonwealth
The Dark Ages
The nineteenth century
The twentieth century
Culture in the Icelandic environment
Old Icelandic literature
Eddic and skaldic poetry
The Sagas
Later literature
Modern literature
Painting, sculpture and music
The Icelanders
Traditional living conditions
The seasons
Changes in the modern world
Independent minds
Superstition, morality and the media
The land
On the edge of Europe
The shape of the land
The volcanoes
The glaciers
The natural world
The climate
The economy and infrastructure
Industry and energy