Picture of author.

Guðbergur Bergsson

Teoksen Joutsen tekijä

37+ teosta 200 jäsentä 6 arvostelua 2 Favorited

Tietoja tekijästä

Tekijän teokset

Joutsen (1991) 72 kappaletta, 3 arvostelua
Tómas Jónsson, Bestseller (1992) 51 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua
La magia de la niñez (1997) 15 kappaletta
Liebe im Versteck der Seele (1993) 8 kappaletta
Luik : [romaan] (2005) 5 kappaletta
Il n'en revint que trois (2018) 4 kappaletta
Las maestras paralíticas (2009) 3 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu
Músin sem læðist (1994) 2 kappaletta
Leikföng leiðans (1997) 2 kappaletta
Tre mand vendte tilbage : roman (2014) 2 kappaletta

Associated Works

McSweeney's Issue 15 (Mcsweeney's Quarterly Concern) (2005) — Avustaja — 458 kappaletta, 4 arvostelua

Merkitty avainsanalla


Kanoninen nimi
Guðbergur Bergsson



Merkitty asiattomaksi
criera | Dec 5, 2022 |
Nope. Nope. Nope. Not at all engaged by the minutiae of this oddball memoir.
Merkitty asiattomaksi
hemlokgang | 1 muu arvostelu | Aug 15, 2019 |
Tómas Jónsson is a retired bank-clerk living in a basement flat in Reykjavik, part of which he has been obliged to let out to a young family (who have in turn sub-let a room to a young man who plays the guitar...). He has taken a strong dislike to Iceland, the rest of the world, other people (especially, but not exclusively, old people, children, Icelanders, foreigners, and women), himself, and literature, and has decided to get his revenge on all of them by writing a bestseller, which he does, in a pile of 17 school composition books. We get 400 gloriously random and inconsistent pages, where he can switch around freely between memories, descriptions of his current life as an invalid, reflections on this and that, anecdotes, parodies of Great Works of Icelandic Literature, sexual fantasies, and much else. Apart from the anecdotes and parodies, he rarely sticks to the same topic for more than a few lines, and indeed often gets side-tracked before even reaching the end of the sentence he's writing. (And from time to time his transcriber has to tell us that some crucial piece of information is illegible in the original manuscript, so we're left hanging.) Most of the time, we aren't given quite enough information to be sure whether Tómas means us to take something as a real event in his life or as a dream or fantasy.

I found reading this a very mixed experience - some parts were absolutely hilarious, some all-but unintelligible. And it is in the nature of Tómas as a narrator that he keeps coming back to certain topics and (when he's not contradicting himself) he repeats himself a bit too often.

A problem with the book is that Tómas's constant misogyny and his fantasies (at least we hope they're just fantasies) about attacking women aren't as funny as they may have been fifty years ago. We're obviously meant to see that they reflect what a failure he is as a human being and laugh at him for trying to use these stories to impress us as readers, but a little of that sort of thing goes a long way, and Tómas doesn't do anything in small doses.

Tómas (or rather Guðbergur) has obviously read his Joyce and Beckett, and knows that a bestseller has to offend the sensitive reader to get the right sort of publicity - Tómas tells us in loving detail about his chamber-pot and how he fills it and empties it, and we hear a remarkable amount about Icelandic excretion customs. We also hear a great deal about Tómas's penis (which notoriously has its own passport). Guðbergur must have known about the weird and wonderful things that were going on in Spanish literature in the fifties and sixties (Cortázar, Goytisolo, etc.) of course, and he's obviously borrowing ideas from them about how to smash apart the conventions of narrative structure. I particularly enjoyed the way he destabilises the text in the last few pages - the transcriber starts to tell us about how he found the composition books and typed them up, but what we are expecting to be a realistic narrative establishing the history of the text mysteriously drifts off into an allegorical nightmare set in the North Atlantic, so we're no surer than we were before how we come to be reading the book...

With a book like this, which doesn't follow any known rules of narrative logic and obeys or ignores the conventions of language and typography at the author's whim, you have to trust the translator implicitly: there's little we can do to check what he's doing without learning Icelandic ourselves. Most of the time Lytton Smith seems to do a remarkably good job of turning the book into lively and varied English text, so I think we probably can trust him (besides, this must have been a labour of love: I can't imagine that there's any significant money to be made translating obscure 1960s texts for small presses). But I did have a few little quibbles - silly things that should have been caught at the proofreading stage, like famous "false friends" (you don't earn "rent" on a savings account in English), or placenames outside Iceland that are left in the Icelandic form (e.g. "Kílarskurðinn canal" instead of Kiel Canal). Most confusing was the use of the word "pensioners" for the people who ate with Tómas every day in some sort of canteen (Smith calls it a "refectory", which is OK too). From the context it's obvious that the people who eat there are in their lunch break from work, and definitely not retired! I suppose the Icelandic word that gets translated as "pensioners" must have been something parallel to French "pensionnaires", i.e. paying guests, nothing to do with the English sense of people who receive a retirement pension. Language does sometimes have a way of turning round and biting you, doesn't it?
… (lisätietoja)
2 ääni
Merkitty asiattomaksi
thorold | 1 muu arvostelu | Nov 17, 2017 |
Prachtig verhaal, bijna magisch. Het gaat over een jong meisje dat na enkele kleine diefstallen voor straf een zomer op een boerderij moet gaan werken. Ze komt uit een kuststreek in IJsland en komt terecht in het binnenland. Met de verwondering die een kind eigen is ontdekt ze deze nieuwe wereld: de weidevogels die plotseling opvliegen, een koe die kalft, een kalf dat geslacht wordt, het werken met dieren. De nieuwe wereld is echter niet vriendelijk; de mensen zijn op zichzelf en hebben weinig aandacht voor het kind, dat zich steeds meer in een fantasiewereld verliest. De zwaan uit de titel speelt hierin een rol.

Opmerkelijk is dat niemand een naam heeft in dit verhaal: het meisje, de boer, de boerin, de dochter en de knecht zijn de hoofdrolspelers. Het leven in het IJslandse binnenland dat hier beschreven wordt lijkt 19e-eeuws, maar als je goed leest merk je dat het toch in de moderne tijd speelt: auto's, computers en melkmachines hebben hun intrede gedaan.

De schrijfstijl is beeldend, poëtisch bijna. Het is een boek dat je eigenlijk langzaam moet lezen, om je helemaal te kunnen verliezen in de mooie zinnen en de beschrijvingen van de IJslandse natuur.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Tinwara | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 13, 2010 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
Arvio (tähdet)
Kuinka monen suosikki

Taulukot ja kaaviot