This dense, mystical vel features the sort of quixotic anti-hero Laxness specializes in - in this case, a failed poet named Olaf Karason. Olaf is an outsider in a society that admires poetry, but scorns poets. The narrative takes him on a series of adventures both miraculous and brutally realistic, as he searches for beauty amid the squalor and ugliness of his life in rural Iceland. After being released from prison he falls in love with a young girl he idealizes as his image of poetic beauty, but having found what he'd been searching for, in seeking to possess her he destroys her. Woven throughout WORLD LIGHT is Laxness's usual gallery of vivid characters, and his signature combination of brutality and tenderness, his ultimately compassionate satire.
Halldor Laxness was born near Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1902. His first novel was published when he was seventeen. The undisputed master of contemporary Icelandic fiction and one of the outstanding novelists of the century, he has written more than sixty books, including novels, short stories, essays, poems, plays, and memoirs. In 1955 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in 1998. In time for the centenary of the birth of Iceland's Nobel Laureate: his epic and perhaps most important novel, WORLD LIGHT.