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Letters from Iceland
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
This seems such a simple text - a poetic travelogue based on a visit by 1930s poets Auden and MacNeice to the beautiful but backward island.
But it is so much more than this. The journey northward is made against the backdrop of Europe preparing for war. The Spanish Civil War begins during their trip, and the Viking legacy of the island is in sharp contrast with the barbarity of the South.
This is also a journey inwards, with the poet's introspection being shown in a diversity of different forms. At the core of the poem is Auden's impish and deceptively light 'Letter to Lord Byron', juxtaposed with travelogue, letters, verse drama, and question and answer exchanges.
This book is a central text when looking at the development of poetry in English and its political role; it is also a great travel book which dignifies the genre.
Auden called the 30s a 'low dishonest decade', but this book shows how angst and uncertainty can be met by humour, self-knowledge and integrity. A great read and an under-appreciated classic.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2007
... is that this edition lacks most of the original's photo plates. These intersect with the text in wonderful ways, of course, and have even received some academic attention on their own (cf. Marsha Bryant's Auden and Documentary in the 1930s). The absence would not bother me so much except that this paperback never mentions the fact at all.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2010
This book is a classic and works well with the movie Away From Her. Looking for a suitable Birthday present for my book-reading and movie watching brother (70 this year) I purchased the book through Amazon.co.uk and could not be happier with the service, price, condition and delivery of the book. I will definitely buy through Amazon.co.uk again and regarding the book it is written in a way that opens up the mind giving thirst to maybe go seek and find more ... when my brother has finished reading it, I'll try to borrow it back.
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on 13 November 2014
My copy just arrived, and it isn't the Faber & Faber paperback edition at all - it's a cheaply produced print-on-demand style bootleg. I'm speechless. Is this even legal? Or are Faber knocking out duff copies of old classics? I already own a 'real' copy - this was going to be a present for a friend and Iceland fan. It's going on the fire.
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I bought this after visiting Iceland, and it was interesting to see what had changed, and what was still accurate. The book is a mixture of poetry and prose, and is witty and entertaining, and occasionally moving. A good read both for those interested in Auden and Iceland. I deducted one star because of the strange typeface
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on 18 December 2011
I haven't finished reading the book yet but it is proving to be amusing, especially from the standpoint of a Brit currently living in Iceland! I showed some of my friends the short verse that Auden composed and then gave to his student to translate into Icelandic and it got quite a few laughs.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2009
I enjoyed reading this written,between the first and second wars,in the form of letters and poems. These two must have been ,I think ,in their thirties at the time: some of it is quite irreverent and funny about Iceland itself; occasionally things go on a bit, but nevertheless it is interesting especially given the time in history. Worth a go, I'd say.
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on 3 August 2014
Not what I expected..
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2012
I laughed out loud several times. At the same time it reflects the anxiety of the times.

I also liked the references to several characters in the sagas, which will be appreciated by anyone with a nodding acquaintance with them.

A minor classic.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2013
Because it is quite weak style of poetry. I would recommend this product to people who starts with poetry and travel very often (it is very common for recent world that people travel without deeper meanings and these meanings can be given by the way of thinking).
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