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The Atom Station Unknown Binding – 1 Jan 1961


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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen (1961)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001OPDVWE
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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3.9 out of 5 stars
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Sep 1998
Format: Paperback
In the Atom Station, Halldor Laxness demonstrates the skill and complexity that led to his being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The novel tells the story of a simple lass from the north of Iceland who comes face to face with the duplicity of politicians who sell out Icelandic sovereignty for the sake of a nuclear station during the cold war. She also comes to some realizations about herself and the importance of social class and knowledge and how these interact in today's modern world. The novel will be of very special interest to those with some knowledge of Iceland and its history. For those without such knowledge, the novel will compel you to learn more about this fascinating country and its wonderful author laureate, Halldor Laxness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Philoctetes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Do all Laxness' novels end in a mood of despair? I am beginning to wonder. Perhaps despair is wrong; instead, stoicism, since one might as well carry on in the face of hopelessness, even if the story isn't going to.

This is my fifth Laxness and, like Christianity At Glacier, I feel like reading it again right away, precisely because it is rather bizarre. The taciturnity and eccentricity of the Icelanders is a continual source of fascination, in some respects admiration. A north country girl goes to work in the house of her MP down south. She finds much that is strange and reprehensible, much that is rewarding and exhilarating, in that most extraordinary of cities, Reykjavik. Ultimately she returns home to give birth, but by then the city has changed her and a burgeoning sense of self causes her to pack her bags and go out again in search of her true place in the world.

Short and very readable, sometimes funny, as suitable a place to begin an exploration of Iceland's favourite novelist as Independent People. If you're entirely new to Icelandic literature, maybe take a look at the book most referred to in The Atom Station - Njal's Saga (also translated by M. Magnusson).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Jan 1997
Format: Paperback
Halldor Laxness, the prodigal son of Icelandic literature, made a distinct stylistic change with this novel, moving from long post-Naturalist tragedies of the outlying regions of Iceland to a fast-paced and often funny romp through Reykavik.

This novel tells the story of the protest surrounding the founding of an American military base in Iceland. The story is told through the eyes of a young, naive servant girl from the country, who, shortly after moving to the city, finds herself surrounded by poets, protesting Socialist students, and Icelandic and American government officials.
The girl loses her innocence but gains, not knowledge of the world, but rather entry to the modern world.

Laxness is one of the largely-ignored greats (possibly doomed to obscurity by winning the Nobel prize for literature), and this novel is a fantastic entry into the canon of postmodern literature.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 May 1998
Format: Paperback
I read Halldor Laxness' Independent People and loved it so much that I ordered all the out of print books by him I could find-- and The Atom Station, conveniently in print and available through Amazon Books. I hated "Station." I put it down 1/3 of the way through and have felt no need to pick it up. This is the first time I can remember doing this in a lifetime of compulsive reading. Laxness experimented with a new style in this one-- demonstrating that experiments sometimes fail. I found his parody obnoxious, his politics overwhelming, the characters unengaging, and the tone of the book irritating. I gave it a "3" because its not pulp-- it's intelligent. Original. Unusual. Maybe someone will like it. He's really a great writer!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AK TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Feb 2012
Format: Paperback
Halldor Laxness will probably be more familiar to readers for his Nobel Prize winning Independent People. This book is very different in many respects - not that his strength as a writer is in any aspect missing - as it possesses aspects of a somewhat lighthearted parody and is in that sense not directly comparable to most of his other work (possibly closest in style to his Under the Glacier (Vintage International Original)).

It follows the experience of a young Northern Icelandic country lass, who makes her way to the big city (in relative terms, it is Reykjavik we are talking about) immediately after WW2 to serve in the house of the MP for her constituency. The goings on also cover the time of negotiations of whether Iceland was to become a base for the Americans during the Cold War.

The book is a subtle but excellent study of the culture clash between both classes, as well as the 'modernity' of city dwellers against the archaic countryside. With a mixture of satire and parody Laxness manages to hammer home some quite interesting points, including his pessimism regarding both communism and capitalism, his quite realistic assessment of politicians, the disenfranchisement of the youth...

It is not one for a quick read in spite of its shortness, as it tends to inspire reflection but it is a good complement to books by Sandor Marai (such as Embers) or Max Frisch (Homo Faber (Penguin Modern Classics)) and certainly one of the (less well known) classics of the 20th century literature.
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