Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I is for Islandia
For this, my third year doing the challenge, I am going literary. For every letter of the alphabet I will talk about a book, an author or a character from fiction or myth that made an impression, was inspirational, or caused me to think.
Islandia, by Austin Tappan Wright.
Probably sometime in the late 1960's, 1970-71 at the latest.
It is an epic story that takes places around 1910 in the fictional country of Islandia, situated on a small continent in the southern Atlantic. Islandia has an ancient, near Utopian society/culture that has developed in total isolation from the rest of the world. But a new day is dawning. Rich in minerals and farm land, the United States and Europe is pressuring the government of Islandia to open its doors to trade. To that end, Islandia allows "ambassadors" (if you will) from various countries to come and live for one year, at which time, the people of Islandia will decide if they want to open their country or remain isolationists.
Thus does a naive young American named John Lang find himself in a completely different culture in the middle of political and romantic intrigue.
Austin Tappan Wright first imagined Islandia as a boy and spent his life developing its history, geography, culture and its story. First published in 1941, eleven years after the author's death, Islandia is an epic on the scale of Lord of the Ring. But there is no magic here, no elves or wizards. It is not a fast, action packed read. But it is a read that will, by the end, make you long for Islandia to be a real place set, as it is, in this real world.
My paperback copy, printed in 1958, resides by my bed. Whenever I get the urge to go some place really special, I pick it up and fall into warmth of the Dorn household or go walking among the mountains.
Copies of this remarkable book can be found at Amazon.
Have any of you heard of Islandia?
I is for Islandia. Other I influences: The Illiad