For those who have woken oblivious to the importance of the day, let me enlighten you - yes, it's Iceland Independence Day! I still haven't visited, but I intend to travel around Iceland towards the latter part of next year, after a little project should have come to the end with me, whilst finding a life of its own. I once wrote a novella based part in London, and part in the Snaefellsness Peninsula. It didn't come to much, but I still loved it - the prose was very stark, spare, and I'm sure I will return to it as some point. And, whilst I've read many Icelandic fairy tales, still not managed the lion's share of the Icelandic Sagas. Anyway, I found this site, which features Icelandic poetry with English translation. Here's one, from Mar/April 1845:
Drudgery (An excerpt from a poem by Heine) Strit
The sun climbs from cool streams of eastern seas to oust the night. What long drudgery for a light-bringer --- unpacking this foolish planet from darkness!
I haven't really got time for much 'pleasure' reading, but this actually combines a little research with some pleasure. It's Joseph O'Connor's The Ghost Light - the fact meets fiction story of Irish actress, Maire O'Neill (Molly Allgood) and her relationship with the Irish playwright, JM Synge. I shall post a review once I've read it, which I'm sure will not be long at all. I took delivery of it yesterday evening and am already on the third chapter. I'm loving Molly's voice, yet also the second person narrative and the time shifts. There's a Times review here.
The current issue of New Statesman is a must, not least for Terry Eagleton's demolition job on Christopher Hitchens' memoir 'Hitch-22'. Read it here. Will Self also reminisces on the Chinese restaurant that was and no longer is. Charlotte Higgins, from the Hay Festival, also blogs on whether it is acceptable to fictionalise historical figures. This is a question I've had to ask myself a few times over the past couple of years, being a pursuit I am engaged in, although Mary Burns is less a historical figure, more of a shadow of a historical figure (Engels). Aptly enough from a right-wing historian, Niall Ferguson, claims that it most definitely is not. Well, it wouldn't be, would it - stamping all over his ground and rightist ideology that only the victors should write the (imperalist) history. But the thing is, if some figures were not fictionalised then they and their achievements, and even the demographics to which they belonged, would simply never be passed …