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From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón

From the Mouth of the Whale (original 2008; edition 2011)

by Sjón, Victoria Cribb (Translator)

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168None70,599 (3.07)37
Title:From the Mouth of the Whale
Other authors:Victoria Cribb (Translator)
Info:Telegram Books
Tags:Fiction, Read in 2012

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From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón (Author) (2008)


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» See also 37 mentions

English (23)  Dutch (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
This is a difficult read. But has such pockets of loveliness, of the word kind and otherwise. ( )
  beckydj | Mar 3, 2014 |
Abandoned at page 51: I just don't care how it turns out. ( )
  Heduanna | Dec 1, 2013 |
An occasionally interesting but often a bit frustrating read. It could've been more than it was - but I can see why it garnered so much praise. There is something undoubtedly magical here... but not magical enough. The magic of the story and of the writing is intermittent for me and I don't see what there is to recommend the book. It's got great moments, great stories - but as a whole, it's a little frustrating in the bad way.

More thoughts of this kind at RB: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-kX ( )
  drewsof | Jul 9, 2013 |
Just not my cup of tea... ( )
  digitalmaven | Jun 17, 2013 |
I've generally not had very good luck when I try to get into Icelandic fiction, but Sjón's "From the Mouth of the Whale" (English translation by Victoria Cribb published by Telegram in 2011) was really quite an enjoyable read. Perhaps it was the historical nature of the narrative that appealed to me, or maybe the natural history elements that the author incorporated into the text. But I liked it. The stream-of-consciousness style worked for me in a way it usually doesn't, and Sjón's lyrical depiction of 17th-century Iceland is lovely. It helps, I'm sure, that the great historical character Ole Worm makes an extended cameo appearance.

Definitely worth a try if you tend to like historical fiction with lots of natural history worked in. ( )
  JBD1 | Dec 15, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
SjónAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cribb, VictoriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Soon it seemed to him that the stars had become men,
the men stars, the stones beasts,
the clouds plants...'
Novalis, The Novices of Sais
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PRELUDE: I was on my way home from the hunt.
A medium-sized fellow ... Beady brown eyes set close to his beak within pale surrounds ... The itself quite long, thick and powerful, with a slight downward curve at the end, dark in colour but lighter at the top.
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Book description
The year is 1635. Iceland is a world darkened by superstition, poverty, and cruelty. Men of science marvel over a unicorn's horn, poor folk worship the Virgin in secret, and both books and men are burnt.

Jonas Palmason, a poet and self-taught healer, has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct, having fallen foul of the local magistrate. Banished to a barren island, Jonas recalls his gift for curing "female maladies," his exorcism of a walking corpse on the remote Snjafjoll coast, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers, and the deaths of three of his children. From the Mouth of the Whale is a magical evocation of an enlightened mind and a vanished age.
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"In the chilling aftermath of Iceland's Lutheran Reformation in 1635, Jonas Palmason - a poet, naturalist and self-taught healer - has been condemned to exile for heretical conduct. Sitting on a barren island, he contemplates his life in a country that has become gripped by feverish superstition and the cruelty of poverty. He recalls his gift for curing 'female maladies', his exorcism of a walking corpse in the remote county of Snaefjallastrond, the frenzied massacre of innocent Basque whalers at the hands of local villagers and the death of two of his children while his family were on the run. When his exile is suddenly revoked, Jonas finds himself swallowed and spewed from the mouth of a north whale, back onto the mainland. There he returns to the arms of his son and ends his days writing books of poetry and legend. Based on the historical figure Jon Gudmundsson, From the Mouth of the Whale is a magical evocation of an enlightened mind and a vanished age."--bookdepository.com… (more)

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