The Atom Station

The Atom Station When the Americans make an offer to buy land in Iceland to build a NATO airbase after the Second World War a storm of protest is provoked throughout the country Narrated by a country girl from the no

  • Title: The Atom Station
  • Author: Halldór Laxness Magnus Magnusson
  • ISBN: 9780099455158
  • Page: 234
  • Format: Paperback
  • When the Americans make an offer to buy land in Iceland to build a NATO airbase after the Second World War, a storm of protest is provoked throughout the country Narrated by a country girl from the north, the novel follows her experiences after she takes up employment as a maid in the house of her Member of Parliament Her observations and experiences expose the bourgeoisWhen the Americans make an offer to buy land in Iceland to build a NATO airbase after the Second World War, a storm of protest is provoked throughout the country Narrated by a country girl from the north, the novel follows her experiences after she takes up employment as a maid in the house of her Member of Parliament Her observations and experiences expose the bourgeois society of the south as rootless and shallow and in stark contrast to the age old culture of the solid and less fanciful north.

    One thought on “The Atom Station”

    1. Part political satire, part town-versus-country lament, and part Cold War curio, The Atom Station is not an easy book for the modern reader to get a purchase on – subplots about Icelandic foreign policy and obscure rhetorical flourishes about bohemian ‘gods’ make the early parts of the novel an uphill battle, and some strands just fail to connect. Then again, it's unlikely you'll have read anything quite like this for a while.The plot is animated by Icelandic opposition to the establishmen [...]

    2. A young woman comes down from the North to Reykjavik to work in a wealthy household. The newly independent Icelandic Parliament is working towards committing itself to dependence on the USA by allowing them to build an atomic weapons base in the country.The picture of the close interrelationship between political and economic power is seen from the point of view of the young woman who comes from a family whose existence is mathematically impossible and yet they survive with two cows, less than a [...]

    3. Völlige Ratlosigkeit angesichts eines überwiegend gut besprochenen Werkes eines Nobelpreis-ausgezeichneten Autors. Die Charaktere (gewollt holzschnittartig) überzeugen nicht, eingeschobene Diskurse erscheinen oft willkürlich, die Polarisierung zwischen reich/kapitalistisch/korrupt/konservativ und einfach/kommunistisch/avantgardistisch ist so vorhersehbar, belehrend und öde, dass man nicht weiterlesen mag. Man erkennt das Gewollte: Die Stereotypen, das Parabelhafte, das Satirische – aber d [...]

    4. „(…) das isländische Talent aus den alten Sagas, im Spott über das zu sprechen, was ihrem Herzen am nächsten stand (…)“ (Laxness in ATOMSTATION)Die ATOMSTATION hat gewiß literarische Qualitäten, die dem Roman auch noch eine Daseinsberechtigung geben, nachdem das Zeitgeschehen, um das es geht - Island "verkauft" sich an die USA, indem es Land zur Errichtung eines Atomwaffenstützpunktes verkauft - samt dem Kalten Krieg der Vergangenheit angehört; Friedhelm Rathjen hat dieses in eine [...]

    5. Although it is sixty years since it was written that Icelandic satire remains a potent tale of political and class absurdity. Narrated by Ugla – a self defined “clod-hopper”, ‘crude and clumping girl from the north’ – who has moved to the city to act as housemaid for her local Member of Parliament and learn the harmonium, this tale of political and social hypocrisy centres on a decision to sell part of the country to provide a US/NATO airbase as part of Cold War anti-Soviet politics. [...]

    6. The Atom Station is a scathing satire of the political mores in a very isolated society. Laxness makes bitter fun of the upper classes' petit-bourgeois snobbery, the blatant opportunism and short termism of the country's leadership, the backstage dealings, the unhealthily close alliance between business and politics. That was in the late 1940s. Sixty years later Iceland does not seem to have been able to escape that predicament. Laxness writes about the phony businesses with impressive front end [...]

    7. A-mazing. Icelandic Beat style meets the native heroic poetic. Favorite quotes (that aren't so odd you'll still understand them):"That's just like you northerners, to start talking to people," said the cook when I returned to the kitchen.Rebellion stirred in me and I replied, "I am people."----"We prised up one of the planks of the lid with a crowbar, and I groped among the packing for the contents; and what did I pull out but a small tin, about 200 grams in weight, wrapped in semi-transparent p [...]

    8. "But it is always possible to kill someone," said the god Brilliantine.The other replied, "Yes, if one has an atom bomb. It is both intolerable and unseemly that a divine being like me, Benjamin, should not have an atom bomb while Du Pont has an atom bomb." "I shall now tell you what you ought to do," said the organist, and placed before him a plate containing a few curled-up pastries and some broken biscuits. "You should compose a ballad about Du Pont and his atom bomb." "I know what I'm going [...]

    9. This had a lighter and more humane touch than I was expected ; in some ways it was almost touching, which is not what you normally expect from satire. Satire, indeed, is a baffling form. I go back and forth between thinking it's funny, it's enraging, it's too easy, it detracts from real solutions, it's an indispensable contribution to the public weal, it's hard and cold and cynical and inhumane, it's driven by a core of human feeling and a commitment to justice so deep that more earnest and stra [...]

    10. I loved every minute of this book, with it's wonderful irony and humour! Once again, Laxness celebrates the wisdom of humble people, as he did so well in "The fish can sing". The central character in "The Atom Station" is a housemaid, Ugla, who serves an exalted and dysfuntional Reykjavik family. Her simple common sense and solid values are juxtaposed with the pretensions and venality of the people around her. Ugla, whose name means 'owl' in Icelandic, is a metaphor for her namesake, wise and ac [...]

    11. Ugla is an uneducated, but intelligent, 20 year old from the North of Iceland. She comes to Reykjavik to work as a maid in the house of her local Member of Parliament. She is surprised to find herself in a home of a nice guy who becomes smitten by her but his wife lives in fear of Communism, and their children are out of control newbie rich kids who drink, fornicate and destroy public property with no fear of arrest. She meets a cadre of strange friends who are a mix of philosophers, a hustler, [...]

    12. When I am lucky enough to travel around a country, I try to brush up on that county's literature. Why? I think literature is an amazingly quick tool to gain an insight into the people that make that country much more than just a menagerie of geographical features. Halldór Laxness seemed a pretty good place to start for getting an idea of what makes Iceland Iceland given he won the Nobel Prize for literature. While "The Atom Station" was not the work that won him the prize, it was the length and [...]

    13. I had trouble with this short novel by acclaimed Icelandic author Halldor Laxness. I could see that it was a satire on post WWII Icelandic society and politics, and an exploration of the north-south divide, the contrast between town and country, rich and poor, and so on, but I found it hard to engage with any of the characters or in fact care about the Iceland depicted in the novel. The central character is Ugla, a young plain-speaking girl from the north who comes to Reykjavik to work in the ho [...]

    14. This book is a treasure I'm willing to re-read. It's a political satire, filled with so much witticism and poetry that it made me savour every phrase. I really like Laxness' style and it is amazing that the characteristics of the political class described at that time can be applied nowadays. Even more surprising to me was Ugla's determination to find herself, to learn and become someone through her own will and power, to become independent. Will definitely read more by Laxness, it seems I just [...]

    15. Една смущаващо добра книга от автор, когото не познавах. Историята е едновременно странна, но и напълно обичайна. Младата жена Йогла, дошла от бедния север на Исландия, започва работа в богаташки дом. Мечтае да се научи да свири на орган, за да може да свири в църквата, която б [...]

    16. Laxness writes sharp observations and lovely turns of phrase, but painfully unconvincing characters. I know this is satire, but man - everybody's either wildly unpredictable or paper thin.

    17. Decent pinch of Cold War satire, with the Icelandic bourgeois proclaiming even raffle tickets to be communist plots, and a nice amount of rumination on what it means to be free.

    18. I am a huge fan of Halldór Laxness, and The Atom Station doesn't disappoint. Once more, drama blends effortlessly with wry humour, and the story and its characters held my interest from start to finish. You get the impression that Laxness has a deep understanding of human nature. All his characters are always so vibrant and individual. Meanwhile, he offers an intimate, nuanced portrayal of Iceland as a place, this time concentrating primarily on the divide between north and south. As a shorter [...]

    19. I finished reading Atom Station by Haldor Laxness last weekend, and liked it a lot. It is lighter and more overtly political than the other two of his novels I've read. The characters seem to parody their own roles, representing an urban kleptocracy, communist agitators for family welfare, urban misfits and naive countryfolk, all with their own views of Icelandic culture and destiny. The bald scheming to "sell Iceland" to the Americans for some cold war scheme, behind a nationalistic smoke scree [...]

    20. “Suicide - masturbation multiplied by itself”Browsing through the used bookshop this weekend I came across this book and it was the author’s last name that made me slip it off the shelf and into my hands… Laxness… the name had a calming effect on me. Then I saw just below his name in bright red letters ‘Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature’. Ok… might be worth a go. And then the blurb at the bottom kind of made me wary, ‘Laxness has been hailed as Iceland’s John Steinbeck [...]

    21. Certainly a slighter book than Laxness classics Independent People, World Light, and Iceland's Bell, The Atomic Station is nonetheless a worthy companion to these three -- which I rank among the best literature of the mid-Twentieth Century. The Atomic Station takes its name from the cold war NATO (read: US) base in Iceland which housed bombers equipped with atomic bombs. Young leftists saw the establishment of the atomic base as nothing less than the selling of Iceland to the US. The protagonist [...]

    22. Ugla is an Icelandic Candide, a young girl raised with sagas and common sense in a society that is considered archaic but is more open, in costumes and in thought, of the official one. In Iceland after World War II, proud of its independence as well as full of contradictions and prey of greedy and unscrupulous politicians, Ugla dribble with grace all the traps in wich can fall a naive peasant (yes, ok, you she find herself with a illegitimate daughter, but Ugla knows the value of life and knows [...]

    23. 4.5 stars My 4th favorite Laxness so far. It's the first time I've read one from him where it's incredibly absurd and not quite as seamless as masterpieces such as Independent People and World Light. But on the other hand, it's also the funniest one I've read so far. It's really good!Here's some good quotes:“A man who slaughters the wrong ewe in a district is excluded from the genealogies after his death, and his descendants, moreover, are branded for two hundred years; so it is little wonder [...]

    24. DNF. After 50% read, I still do not have a clue what is really going on. I fear the superficial story is without purpose if one does not understand the subject matter and context for the satire - and I have not that necessary understanding.

    25. Despite being written in 1948, Laxness's women are multifaceted characters - they are not all virtuous nor all villains, and there are excellent passages where they and those around them explore gender roles and what they mean in the town vs. the country. This was one of many surprises in The Atom Station - a brief insight into post-war Iceland through the eyes of a country woman in the city. The writing is quirky and funny with memorable characters, one of which is most definitely Nature and th [...]

    26. Halldor Laxness is probably my favorite writer, but this book is almost flawed enough for me to take him off that pedastal. It was written in 1948, during the fever stage of the Cold War, a time when absurdist allegories and overwrought social generalizations were all the rage among the literati, and the Atom Station is proof that even a writer as inventive as Laxness can succumb to the unfortunate trends of his age. It tells the tale of a post-war Iceland riven between two factions, one looking [...]

    27. Definitely not the first book to begin Icelandic literature with! I was very excited when I picked it up in a bookshop after reading its plot, and although the topic of building an atom station in Iceland after the 2nd World War and all the political play that surrounds it is a catching tale, it is by far not well enough told. The writer keeps jumping from the petty politics scene to the emotional confrontations of the main character Ugla and then to some gods who steal cars as a hobby. ??! I me [...]

    28. This was a very whimsical book. I really don't know a better word for it. Very serious subject matter satired by the strangest of characters. Reminded me, in an odd way, of Hesse's "Steppenwolf," by the bizarre and symbolic nature of its cast and the cryptic abstraction of some of their speeches. Much of it was lost on me, and I think at least a small portion of that is due to humor that was lost in translation. This novel also reminded me of Dickens's "Bleak House," Laxness's Ugla being a perfe [...]

    29. One of Laxness's shorter and possibly more accessible books, Atom Station is a satire on post-war society, politics and authority. Even though it is short, it needs to be read carefully, as much of Laxness's writing here stirs further reflection. It is very good at highlighting the clash between the northern Icelandic serving girl and the southern politicians and city-dwellers whose lives and idiosyncrasies are a source of amusement. Often, though I found it difficult to read mainly because of i [...]

    30. I wanted to buy this book while I was visiting Iceland. A few months later, while unpacking again (the story of my life) I discovered this book, among a collection of about 100 books my father brought me a long time ago (while I was still in high school).I enjoyed the classic touch but didn't appreciate the way "a jew" was considered a typical curse, just like "a whore" But perhaps it is the time in which the book was written to blame and not the Noble-prize-winning authorThe book invites you to [...]

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