Thórbergur Thórdarson (1888-1974) was a writer and novelist who remains dear to many Icelanders for his versatile and creative use of the Icelandic language; his two very satirical, semi-fictional autobiographies of his life in Reykjavík in the early twentieth century, Íslenzkur aðall (1938) and Ofvitinn (1940-41), have continued to amuse and entertain each new generation of Icelanders. Thórdarson’s writings cover an extraordinary spectrum of subjects and styles, and his popularity and reputation continues to grow in the 21st century.
The Stones Speak is Thórbergur Thórdarson’s elegiac portrayal of his childhood and youth on the farm of Hali in Suðursveit, an isolated rural area of southeastern Iceland, in the late 19th century. It reveals his reverence for the beauty of the Suðursveit countryside and his enduring love of his family and neighbours and their language, history and culture. It is a sometimes witty and funny, sometimes wry and sad, sometimes contemplative and mystical, but always affectionate portrait of a time, a place and a people, all of which have long since passed away. The Stones Speak is not only an enchanting work of art, but also a vitally important witness to the way of life on an Icelandic turf farmstead in the 1890s.
Julian Meldon D’Arcy is Professor of English Literature at the University of Iceland; he has also translated works by Jóhannes úr Kötlum, Svava Jakobsdóttir and Jónas Þorbjarnarson.