The Sorrow of Angels Epub ï The Sorrow MOBI :Þ

The Sorrow of Angels Epub ï The Sorrow MOBI :Þ


The Sorrow of Angels ✈ [PDF / Epub] ✅ The Sorrow of Angels By Jón Kalman Stefánsson ✸ – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk It is three weeks since the boy came to town, carrying a book of poetry to return to the old sea captain the poetry that did for his friend B r ur Three weeks, but already B r ur s ghost has faded Sno It is three weeks since the boy came to town, carrying a book of poetry to return to the old sea captain the poetry that did for his friend B r ur Three weeks, but already B r ur s ghost has faded Snow falls so heavily that it binds heaven and earth togetherAs the The Sorrow MOBI :Þ villagers gather in the inn to drink schnapps and coffee while the boy reads to them from Shakespeare s Hamlet, Jens the postman stumbles in half dead, having almost frozen to his horse On his next journey to the wide open fjords he is accompanied by the boy, and both must risk their lives for each other, and for an unusual item of mail The Sorrow of Angels is a timeless literary masterpiece in extraordinarily powerful language it brings the struggle between man and nature tangibly to life It is the second novel in Stef nsson s epic and elemental trilogy, though all can be read independently.

    Load results Apple Footer Apple Support each other, and for an unusual item of mail The Sorrow of Angels is a timeless literary masterpiece in extraordinarily powerful language it brings the struggle between man and nature tangibly to life It is the second novel in Stef nsson s epic and elemental trilogy, though all can be read independently."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 333 pages
  • The Sorrow of Angels
  • Jón Kalman Stefánsson
  • English
  • 06 February 2019
  • 0857051652

About the Author: Jón Kalman Stefánsson

J n moved to Keflav k when he was and returned to Reykjav k in with his highschool diploma From he spent a good deal of his time in West Iceland, where he did various jobs worked in a slaughterhouse, in the fishing industry, doing masonry and for one summer as The Sorrow MOBI :Þ a police officer at Keflav k International Airport J n Kalman studied literature at the University of Iceland from until but did not finish his degree He taught literature at two highschools for a period of time and wrote articles and criticism for Morgunbla i newspaper for a number of years J n lived in Copenhagen from , reading, washing floors and counting buses He worked as a librarian at the Mosfellsb r Library near Reykjav k until the year Since then he has been a full time writerHis first published work, the poetry collection, Me byssuleyfi eil f ina, came out in He has published two other collections of poetry and a number of novels His novel Sumarlj s, og svo kemur n ttin Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night won The Icelandic Literature Prize in Three of his books have also been nominated for The Nordic Council s Literature PrizeHe was the recipient of the Per Olov Enquists Prize for , awarded at the book fair in Gautaborg in September .



10 thoughts on “The Sorrow of Angels

  1. Cecily Cecily says:

    Impressions through the clouded lens of snowflakes, the eponymous sorrow of angels Death, ever present, death Lurking in the murderous winter landscape, the roof of Hell Lurking in empty bellies and a cough that won t stop.Lingering in memories, dreams, and visions.The dead, entwine with the living, urging some to live, but luring others towards death Does one betray the dead by continuing to live How to bear the guilt of being alive and desiring life By the anchoring bonds with family Impressions through the clouded lens of snowflakes, the eponymous sorrow of angels Death, ever present, death Lurking in the murderous winter landscape, the roof of Hell Lurking in empty bellies and a cough that won t stop.Lingering in memories, dreams, and visions.The dead, entwine with the living, urging some to live, but luring others towards death Does one betray the dead by continuing to live How to bear the guilt of being alive and desiring life By the anchoring bonds with family and friends who live.By the power of promises, carried in hopeful hearts Life, tenacious but ephemeral, battles relentless hardship across the barren snow.For what Delivering letters Letters And the dead Optimism or idiocy what s the real difference Because Words are the seventh wonder of the world Words from one soul to another.Words to change the world.Assassins or saviours Bullets or rescue teams Words from beyond the grave.Words that may take postman Jens and the boy to theirs.And then, after agonising survival, an oddly comic, but possibly deadly descent At the end of the world, coffee warm as Heaven, black as Hell may save, but liquor can slay.There s a fiercely independent woman serving both, her generosity hidden beneath the wings of her raven s heart.And a boy, who doesn t want physical strength or reckless masculinity, but words and education.If he lives Bodies dead bodies, lost bodies, bodies reaching out, bodies making love.A wet, glistening sweet, from one mouth to another and A thousand years passed.Body parts The heart is a muscle Shoulders of moonlight And eyes So many eyes of every colour and kind blue, flint coloured, pearls, bulging boils, black frozen puddles of death.A tentative, tender kiss on the eyes.Blind eyes that penetrate and seethan sighted eyes One of many reasons not to judge from afar And yet You can always know a person by where he or she looks Eyes don t lie Snow blind, blind drunk, dead drunk, blindsight, snow.But blind from lack of love If love returns, will sight And then the world goes out Stunning Literally and literarily I was left snow blind fed, but still hungry.I crawled out of the shelter of my snow cave, craving .More words Words to change the world, to change me The world went out, and so did I straight to The Heart of Man.QuotesNo plot spoilers They re hidden for brevity and easy scrolling.Words and Books view spoiler First it s words that freeze, then life Everything has to be called something except the nameless central, universal characters, the boy and the Village Some books are essential, others are diversions This is the former Read as naturally as you breathe Read until you stop distinguishing between the text and yourself Where words don t sit still on the page but instead fly to the sky and give us wings, even though we might not have sky to fly in Shit is shit and fancy words don t change that But they change you A person who holds a pen and paper has the possibility to change the world Power and wealth have never gone hand in hand with poetry, and that s perhaps why it s so incorruptible Written words can havedepth than spoken ones The paper is the fertile soil of the word This word, sorry, which goes such a long way and is so substantial that it can be used to build many houses and many bridges This wonderful smell of books and dust like Heaven Kierkegaard is dangerous He threatens to change us, he makes us doubt, he forces us to reconceive the world We prefer agreeableness to provocation, abstraction to stimulus, numbness to stimulation This boy vanished into the poetry, was hardly aware of the storm recited the poems out loud to himself, recited them like magic incantations and beheld another world Poetry kills, it gives you wings, you flap them and feel the fetters It leads you to another world, and then yanks you back, into a storm hide spoiler Life and Death view spoiler Life is just a thread that becomes brittle and fragile in the cold The downy soft embrace of death He who dies never returns Yet he who dies never leaves us completely he who dies is both near and far Human life is a vague tremor in the atmosphere it passes by so quickly that the angels miss it if they blink No one died that s how stories can be superior to life Live to experience what the dead cannot hide spoiler Weather view spoiler In Iceland there s never any spring It s winter and then comes reluctant summer Listens to the silence between snowflakes The wind, as transparent as time, is gone and left behind an apologetic breeze A gentle, immensely polite breeze A summer evening with birdsong and eternal light and the red midnight sun smelted them into one hide spoiler The Sea view spoiler The breath of the sea the heavy aspiration of a senseless creature, this treasure chest and grave of thousands The sea is grey and innocent looking and seems not to have anything on its conscience The sea is restless after the storms It is slow to regain its composure, storing the weather inside it like a memory The sea pants in the snowfall and drowned men plod along the seabed The sea is full of drowned lives yet people only catch fish the boy screams because we can t row out onto the sea of death and fetch the ones we miss hide spoiler Love view spoiler One must blow on the embers constantly to keep the fire alive life, love, ideals it s only the embers of lust that one never needs to blow on The heart needs to beat for others, otherwise it grows cold Kisses can float like summer blossoms down into the depths of sleep hide spoiler Eyes, Sight, Blindness view spoiler Kolbeinn saw little until he lost his sight Do I need to tear out my own eyes in order to see Kolbeinn sits in his eternal darkness and directs the broken mirrors of his soul towards the boy A woman s eyes Often appeared to be full of rain and wet horses just a glimpse of the woman filled one with hopelessness Wrinkles like sunbeams extending from her eyes hide spoiler Dreams view spoiler Man dies if you take his bread from him, but he withers without dreams Listens to the dreams of the night trickle from his blood and disappear into oblivion Dreams evaporate from him, ascend to Heaven where angels read them hide spoiler Miscellaneous view spoiler We re in a leaky rowing boat with a rotten net, and we re going to catch stars The end of the world All roads lead away from here Thousands of stars that twinkle like old poems over the land A butterfly is a bit like life Beautiful from a distance, but when you come close you see that it s just a winged worm Sometimes life isn t visible until you ve come right up to it, and that s why we should never judge from a distance All his life, since his father died, he s been leaving, has never known where he was going but his dreams are about this, getting away Lamps giving off decent light but leaving behind shadows as if the world were torn apart in some places by the darkness hide spoiler Nothing is sweet to me, without you Three Volume NovelThis is not a trilogy it s one novel in three, very closely related parts, covering just a few weeks 1 Heaven and Hell, reviewed HERE.2 The Sorrow of Angels, this book.3 The Heart of Man, review HERE For aconcrete idea of setting, plot, characters, and writing style, see my overview HERE.Image of snowflake contact lens

  2. Dolors Dolors says:

    The epic journey of survival against all odds that moulds the identity of the nameless boy continues in this second installment of St fansson s trilogy, setting the perfect foreground tone for the fiercest struggle between man and the hostile wilderness of the Icelandic remote lands.Divided in two main sections the youthful main character ponders about the value of literature, gettingacquainted with it in the first part of the narration and missing it acutely in the second one, where the The epic journey of survival against all odds that moulds the identity of the nameless boy continues in this second installment of St fansson s trilogy, setting the perfect foreground tone for the fiercest struggle between man and the hostile wilderness of the Icelandic remote lands.Divided in two main sections the youthful main character ponders about the value of literature, gettingacquainted with it in the first part of the narration and missing it acutely in the second one, where the extreme weather conditions become the main protagonist of the story, befogging the voice of the omniscient narrator with inner monologue, tragicomic dialogue and the incantatory poetry that breathes life into the menacing yet wondrous presence of the landscape that consumes it all.The boundaries separating Heaven and Hell, Sky and Earth, the Living and the Dead, dissipate into a muddled blankness that evokes the oblivion of non being.What is the use of printed pages in the face of the unbearable iciness that benumbs hearts and drowns men in the depths of the Polar Sea Why read Milton, Shakespeare or Dickens if the whiteness of the snow will end up blinding those who dare to question, who dare to look out And yet Jens the postman puts his life in danger to deliver letters, written words, at the end of the world, where angels weep tears of sorrow that coat slopes, gullies and ridges with whitewash made of gelid blizzards and biting snowflakes Humanity is reduced to nothingness in front of the inexorable forces of nature that create and destroy in their wake.Surely, the hazardous trip that boy and man embark on together to make a special delivery is a metaphor for mankind s pursuit of answers to fight against absurdity, to infuse meaning into a seemingly pointless existence, presented through the dual prism of St fansson s artistry.The inquisitive boy, whose unquenchable doubts nudge him to speak out, and the grumpy postman, who avoids words as if they were summoned by the same devil, will see their destinies irremediably intertwined in a mission that might shake the ground of their deeply rooted beliefs not only about the importance of words, but also about the fine line separating life from death, lust from love and reality from hallucination.St fansson is a poet, but the lyrical hues of his darkly sensuous prose is aerated with an outstanding understanding of the human psyche, moving shrewdly between realistic narrative, folklore and myth, blending the moralistic tale with the archetypal existentialist coming of age story His painstaking eye for detail draws an incredibly nuanced portrait of the Icelandic people, their precarious life conditions and the unusual mixture of coarseness and sensitivity that constitutes their collective ethos.In a place where man s angst, fear and impotence mean nothing against the undaunted harshness of nature, a place where his dreams, yearnings and minuscule joys don t have the slightest impact on his untamable habitat words might be futile or they might be the rescue team that melts petrified souls lost in the maelstrom of existence back into the throbbing pain of being alive It s only a matter of finding the courage to give them free entrance into the core of what makes us human

  3. Laysee Laysee says:

    It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful, it s a cover protecting the earth from the frost and bringing light to a heavy winter, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercy The Sorrow of Angels, Jon K Stefansson The Sorrow of Angels strikes me as a lovely, poetic title for a novel set in Iceland In this second novel, Jon Stefansson continues the story of Heaven and Hell during the season when winter segues into spring, and tells it with the same philosophic It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful, it s a cover protecting the earth from the frost and bringing light to a heavy winter, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercy The Sorrow of Angels, Jon K Stefansson The Sorrow of Angels strikes me as a lovely, poetic title for a novel set in Iceland In this second novel, Jon Stefansson continues the story of Heaven and Hell during the season when winter segues into spring, and tells it with the same philosophical and lyrical elegance The blinding beauty of snow, the ferocity of the winds, and the pitiless and overpowering force of wintry gales envelop everything that happens in this story I read this book while visiting Iceland this summer when the temperature hovered between 2 and at most 12 degrees Celsius I was also thrown off my feet once by exceedingly strong winds when trying to close the car door If this is summer, then I shudder to think what life is like in winter I read this novel then with a heightened awareness of the sorrow of angels, a phrase Stefansson uses to refer to snow angels weeping in Iceland When people live on the border of the habitable world, snow is merciless and potentially deadly Stefansson has myriad descriptors for the harshness of the landscape where postmen can lose their lives while collecting or delivering mail They toil against the North wind, which is stronger than anything in this country The weather changes everything here, the north wind and cold make us huddle in our homes and increase the distance between people It has been three weeks since the nameless boy lost his friend, Bardur, on a fishing trip He finds refuge in the house of three cafe owners Helga, Geirpruour, Kolbeinn who have extended hospitality to him He does chores around the house and reads Shakespeare to Kolbeinn who is visually impaired His new family recognizes his love for books and wishes to educate him, seeing he is too dreamy to become a fisherman For the first time he has his own room, a bed, and oil lamps to read into the night This sounds like bliss, yet the boy struggles with the guilt of living Does one betray the dead by continuing to live Bardur s death has led the boy to a different set of living circumstances where he has opportunities to meet learned individuals such as Gisli, the schoolmaster Will and should Bardur s death bring him happiness Before long, the boy leaves the security of the cafe and embarks on a journey with Jens, the mailman, on a high risk mail delivery assignment over a stormy fjord and windswept glacier They are later joined by another man, Hjalti, to make a special delivery for a grieving family This, in sum, is the plot of this novel.Reading their interminable hardship and continued battering by the forces of nature almost wears me out even though I marvel at the dogged perseverance of the characters The journey through snow and frost is unimaginably arduous and I feel relief whenever the party stumbles on a turf farm shelter buried in the snow There is some heartwarming writing in the growing closeness of the three men A cord of three strand is not easily broken They begin to communicateopenly than ever before about individuals who matter to them and how they should live their lives if they have a chance to survive the tyranny of the harsh and deadly cold The Sorrow of Angels pits mere mortals against the natural elements and celebrates the triumph and resilience of the human spirit There is in each man a light that flickers and refuses to go out, refuses to give in to the heavy darkness and suffocating death This light nourishes us and torments us, it persuaded us to keep going instead of lying down like dumb beasts and waiting for whatever might never come As in its predecessor, Heaven and Hell , this novel also celebrates the power of words as rescue teams The boy, previously taciturn, begins to speak muchto Jens and to recite poetry out loud when the exposed terrain threatens to overwhelm him Of what other use is poetry unless it has the power to change fate For readers who live in words, we know there is truth in this Beautifully written book

  4. Michael Michael says:

    Whereas Heaven and Hell, the first volume of the author s trilogy examining the relationship between the living and the dead in late nineteenth century Iceland, focused on the ways in which the cold, deep, and unpredictable sea can turn the living into the dead, Stef nsson s second volume, The Sorrow of Angels, describes how the stark and unforgiving landscape of snowfields, glaciers, and mountains swept by storms can perform the same transformation The saga of the boy is also a Bildungsroman Whereas Heaven and Hell, the first volume of the author s trilogy examining the relationship between the living and the dead in late nineteenth century Iceland, focused on the ways in which the cold, deep, and unpredictable sea can turn the living into the dead, Stef nsson s second volume, The Sorrow of Angels, describes how the stark and unforgiving landscape of snowfields, glaciers, and mountains swept by storms can perform the same transformation The saga of the boy is also a Bildungsroman that examines how one becomes a man and how far an individual may go in defining the concept of manhood within his particular culture It is also a paean to the power of words, exemplified in the gloriously beautiful, yet simple prose of Stef nsson, expertly rendered by his translator, Philip Roughton A classic existentialist novel, The Sorrow of Angels performs the most difficult task of bridging a trilogy with style, ending in a cliffhanger that forces the reader to count the days until the appearance of the concluding volume.There are books that entertain you but don t stir your deepest thoughts Then there are others that cause you to question, that give you hope, broaden the world and possibly introduce you to precipices.This book is in the latter category.For some people love never breaks, it never tarnishes no matter what storms rage in life, and the pettiness that can so easily undermine one in everyday life appears not to touch them Those who have the privilege of crossing the paths of such people momentarily perceive the purpose behind everything.Love, life, death, and the purpose if such there is of it all fill the spaces between the snowflakes the sorrow of angels in this wonderfully meditative adventure.Life, in any case, is rather simple Those who put one foot in front of the other, and then vice versa, and repeat it often enough, finally reach their destination if they have a destination at all This is one of the facts of this world.On the one hand, this is true, but there are certain complications.He who dies never returns, we ve lost him, no power in the universe is able to bring us the warmth of a vanished life, the sound of a voice, the hand movements, the touch of humor All the details that comprise life and give it validity have vanished into eternity, vanished only to leave an open wound in the heart that time gradually transforms into a swollen scar Yet he who dies never leaves us completely, which is a paradox that comforts and torments at once he who dies is both near and far.The question that both the boy and we must answer is Does one betray the dead by continuing to live Depending on our answer, we will either lie down in the soft and welcoming snow and slip into a dreamless and eternal sleep or rise to our feet oncein the face of the blinding blizzard and accomplish the impossible task of living in the face of certain death

  5. Leif Leif says:

    A clue to the title Here come the angels tears, say the Indians in northern Canada when the snow falls It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful, it s a cover protecting the earth from the frost and bringing light to a heavy winter, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercy It goes without saying read Stef nsson s Heaven and Hell first, as this novel continues the story and read it before Stef nsson s most recently translated The Heart of Man, the conclusion A clue to the title Here come the angels tears, say the Indians in northern Canada when the snow falls It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful, it s a cover protecting the earth from the frost and bringing light to a heavy winter, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercy It goes without saying read Stef nsson s Heaven and Hell first, as this novel continues the story and read it before Stef nsson s most recently translated The Heart of Man, the conclusion to the trilogy I loved this book too much to read it quickly, too much to put it down too much to criticize it for its swirling, skipping, thoughtful prose Poetry kills, it gives you wings, you flap them and feel the fetters It leads you into another world, and then yanks you back, into a storm, into the dinginess of the commonplace.With the boy and then with the boy and Jens the mailman of few words, readers walk the icy snows and death stealing winds of remote Iceland, waiting for pauses, breaks, calm When it comes, however, calm is onlytrouble the garrulous talk of lonely priests, the dangerous coughing of young children who demand that every story begin No one may die, the eyes of sheep in the darkness, the tempting breasts of a beautiful woman, the families of the recently bereaved, the possibility of alcohol for Jens and the boy, the trek to deliver mail to bring words, not news any, such is their pace, but word balances the howl of the storm against the alluring troubles of calm In the wind and with the word of poetry, a person comes to the most important questions what are we to do with those who betray themselves, betray life itself A ghost might be the only answer ghosts of the living, as Jens sees them ghosts of the dead, as the boy senses, equally if notacutely Because the word that the two carry might well be that of death and a signifier might easily slip into its signified, up at the cold, snow covered end of the world where they walk and wrestle with desire and with memory.To make this not so long story short I loved the language, the descriptions, the weather, the story, and the play of metaphors and meanings and tales I was torn emotionally by the way two men s journey with the mail became a meditative burial party of four and then, well, you ll have to get there to see Rich going, this novel Highly recommended

  6. Hanneleele Hanneleele says:

    One of the still too few Icelandic books I ve read and though my mother had some words to say about it I still conclude it to be worthy of being placed among my favorites Not only does the book speak a lot about poetry and books in the middle of nothingness, it is like a poem in itself and was a sudden and welcome gift from dear dear people I loved it And like many if not most good books it broke my heart a bit And outside my windows there are mountains with snow on them, even in the middle One of the still too few Icelandic books I ve read and though my mother had some words to say about it I still conclude it to be worthy of being placed among my favorites Not only does the book speak a lot about poetry and books in the middle of nothingness, it is like a poem in itself and was a sudden and welcome gift from dear dear people I loved it And like many if not most good books it broke my heart a bit And outside my windows there are mountains with snow on them, even in the middle of July and I would not want to be there in a snowstorm, which is what the characters in J n Kalman s book spend most of their time doing It s better if someone writes about it Even better if the words have a magic of their own

  7. Calzean Calzean says:

    Stefansson does not for the Iceland Tourist Authority His tale of the boy and Jens, the postman, is almost poetic as it describes them traipsing through storms, snow, rowing across a fjord, cold, near death, confronting their fears, hunger just to deliver the mail They walk, they fall, they slip, they fall, they rejoice when they find shelter and celebrate if they come across a remote farmhouse where they can some coffee and warmth They reflect on love and life and reveal why people elect to Stefansson does not for the Iceland Tourist Authority His tale of the boy and Jens, the postman, is almost poetic as it describes them traipsing through storms, snow, rowing across a fjord, cold, near death, confronting their fears, hunger just to deliver the mail They walk, they fall, they slip, they fall, they rejoice when they find shelter and celebrate if they come across a remote farmhouse where they can some coffee and warmth They reflect on love and life and reveal why people elect to live in this dangerous and extremely challenging environment.Looking forward to the third book in this trilogy

  8. Paul Fulcher Paul Fulcher says:

    They press on in the admirable or torpid obstinacy that characterises those who live on the border of the habitable worldSorrow of Angels is not so much a sequel to Heaven and Hell as simply the second of three volumes of the same novel by J n Kalman Stef nsson, beautifully translated by Philip Roughton Indeed it would be best read back to back, albeit the rich nature of the prose makes this a novel to be savoured in sips rather than consumed in one sitting So much of my review could simplThey press on in the admirable or torpid obstinacy that characterises those who live on the border of the habitable worldSorrow of Angels is not so much a sequel to Heaven and Hell as simply the second of three volumes of the same novel by J n Kalman Stef nsson, beautifully translated by Philip Roughton Indeed it would be best read back to back, albeit the rich nature of the prose makes this a novel to be savoured in sips rather than consumed in one sitting So much of my review could simply consist of repeating what I said about the first book Sorrow of Angels takes it s name from a phrase for the all prevailing snow that is arguably the book s most distinctive characterHere come the angels s tears, say the Indians in northern Canada when the snow falls It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful It s a cover protecting the earth from the frost, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercySorrow of Angels presents a richer character study than Heaven and Hell, both those in the village introduced in the latter part of the first volume, but also a succession of memorable folk met on their journey that dominates this second story Against that, the set piece perilous journeys through the unforgiving Icelandic climate that dominate both volumes seem a littlecontrived here often the boy s travelling companion Jens deliberately takes the difficult route or refuses to simply wait out a late winter storm andrepetitive indeed this book suffers a little from us knowing there is a third volume so the boy must survive each ordeal The book is again ostensibly narrated by the lost souls of the dead, who share the obsession of almost every other character with coffeeWhy do we have to remember it so well it s been so very long since we could drink coffee, many decades, yet still the taste and pleasure haunt us Our bodies were devoured to the last morsel long ago, our flesh rotted off our bones, dig us up and you ll find just white bones that sneer at you, but despite that the pleasures of the flesh stick to us we can t get rid of them anythan the memories that overpower death Death, where is your powerBut here they, specifically one recently departed women, intrudedirectly, giving the latter part of the book asupernatural and ethereal feeling The power of words remains a key to the novel and indeed the theme is built on from the first volume Not that most of the characters are verbose, indeed other than the boy, they are almost universally taciturnMany choose to keep silent when life stings them hardest, since words are often just lifeless stones or torn and tattered garments And they can also be weeds, harmful disease vectors, rotten pieces of wood that can t even hold an ant, let alone a man s life Yet they re one of the few things that we actually have handy when everything appears to have betrayed us Keep that in mind As well as that which no one understands that the least important, most unlikely words can, entirely unexpectedly, carry a great load and bring life undamaged over dizzying ravinesAnd within those words, the written words, in books and poems is foremost And some of those words come from books and poems with the last paragraph and the trust in numbers perhaps containing an authorial illusion to Iceland s role in the financial crisisOf what use is poetry unless it has the power to change fate There are books that entertain you but don t stir your deepest thoughts Then there are others that cause you to question, that give you hope, broaden the world and possibly introduce you to precipices Some books are essential, others diversions Those who speak of the fury of mountain, of the sorrow of angels, take on the aura of a poet and thereby lose all credit poets are entertainers, parlour ornaments, at times clowns, and are consequently taken by us with a grain of salt It s conceivably true that poetry holds the ridiculous and beautiful core of the nation in its depths, but seven hundred years of struggle have shaped us and filed us down somewhere along the way we lost faith in the power of poetry, started to see it as a giddy daydream, a party decoration, and put all our trust in numbers and obvious facts, what we didn t understand or feared was shut up inside relatively harmless folk tales The last two thirds of the novel tells of an epic journey, almost a suicide mission, undertaken by the boy with Jens, the postman, delivering letters over the snowbound mountains to inaccessible parts of the country JensOn low ground he s silent, untactful, a little too inclined to drink and perhaps weak willed, but up here, at a height of nearly seven hundred metres, encompassed by black weather, life on the other hand, death on the other, he feels at home, flourishesit s a bit sad that this man flourishes nowhere but far from human habitation, far from life, in fact To shine nowhere but in mortal danger up on mountains can such a person find happiness and have a life on the low ground, with quiet moment, kind words, kisses and gentle eyesThe first third, tells the story of how the boy, for the first time in his life, sees a new way of life opening up in his brief stay in the village And on the trek, he finds himself feeling an odd emotion regret for what s he has hopefully temporarily left behindIt s a completely new experience for him to regret the loss of what hasn t disappeared into eternity This new regret is easier and there s light in it But regret over what The people, the selfsame trio, the security, the possibilities that can come with living in that house All his life, ever since his father died, he s been leaving, never known where he was going but his dreams are all about this, getting away In this lay hope, and reason to keep himself upright Getting away from the fish, the hardship, the haymaking, the incessant, destructive, everyday toil, the constant grind that rips people apart well before their time, takes the gleam from their eyes, the heat from their touch He s lived for three weeks now in a house where all the rules are somehow turned upside down, and he s supposed to begin his education when he returns, if he returns The village community is also dominated by women and the boy also finds himself rebelling against the culture of manliness in which he was brought upSometimes men like you are cowardly, they just don t stop You should have seen Petur s eyes light up when he described the courage of the men who dared not yield to a storm, dared not yield to dangerHow many families were broken up because of the foreman s manliness To think that you re left all alone in this bloody world because the foreman was so bloody manly This god damned manliness of yours suffocates everything that s good and sensitive and beautiful, it kills life itselfTheir journey eventually takes them to almost the end of the world, the Polar sea where whole months pass without any contact without the wider world, and spring is a battle against starvationI ve heard how it is here in the northern regions, little left but salted seabirds by the time spring comes people lie bedridden with scurvy, folk in their best years, some even need to be moved to other farms, to other districts, to get them back on their feet This must be the end of the world, declares the boy and then Bjarni comes with the coffee They avoid speaking for some time in order to enjoy the drink better You feel that we live at the end of the world, says Bjarni, not looking in any particular direction, although it s no secret to whom he s directing his words The boy Yes this is undeniablya bit distant from everythingAll roads lead away from here Bjarni And no roads lead here The boy, smiling apologetically, ashamedly That s probably not true Bjarni It s alright But it s good to be here, there are plenty of fish in the sea, birds on the cliffs, we have fifty sheep, it s quiet here, no one to push you around He who lives here is free That must be something The end of the world, what s that What to you is the end of the world is home to me Overall, another excellent instalment in a moving story I look forward to the next volume, The Heart of Man, when the themes developed in the first part of his book arefully developed

  9. Matthias Matthias says:

    As often in trilogies, the second book improves on the first in several ways There isgorgeous landscape, the characters showdepth, and the author deliversof his enjoyable mixture of dry humor and nordic spirituality I am probably too generous with the stars, but I am addicted to this sort of slow, contemplative prose Reading this is like watching a film by B la Tarr I am tempted to compare this to to another trilogy, Hans Henny Jahnn s _River Without Banks_, but will postpo As often in trilogies, the second book improves on the first in several ways There isgorgeous landscape, the characters showdepth, and the author deliversof his enjoyable mixture of dry humor and nordic spirituality I am probably too generous with the stars, but I am addicted to this sort of slow, contemplative prose Reading this is like watching a film by B la Tarr I am tempted to compare this to to another trilogy, Hans Henny Jahnn s _River Without Banks_, but will postpone that until after I have read the third part.In my comment about the first volume I lamented about the German translation Curiously, I really liked the the translation this time, again by Karl Ludwig Wetzig.Maybe I was in a bad mood while reading the first volume

  10. Jeremy Jeremy says:

    4.5 Stefansson sets the bar for lyrical prose Page after page of marked text, like a map to life s mysteries, I wondered what would be dreamt next Well, there s also a lot of wandering through a snow storm in this one, almost two hundred pages of men travelling in a whiteout, and while this shows the author s extreme skill for this not to become tiring, it strains the overall momentum, ending on a note that makes it seem like half a work that The Heart of Man hopefully finishes.

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10 thoughts on “The Sorrow of Angels

  1. Cecily Cecily says:

    Impressions through the clouded lens of snowflakes, the eponymous sorrow of angels Death, ever present, death Lurking in the murderous winter landscape, the roof of Hell Lurking in empty bellies and a cough that won t stop.Lingering in memories, dreams, and visions.The dead, entwine with the living, urging some to live, but luring others towards death Does one betray the dead by continuing to live How to bear the guilt of being alive and desiring life By the anchoring bonds with family Impressions through the clouded lens of snowflakes, the eponymous sorrow of angels Death, ever present, death Lurking in the murderous winter landscape, the roof of Hell Lurking in empty bellies and a cough that won t stop.Lingering in memories, dreams, and visions.The dead, entwine with the living, urging some to live, but luring others towards death Does one betray the dead by continuing to live How to bear the guilt of being alive and desiring life By the anchoring bonds with family and friends who live.By the power of promises, carried in hopeful hearts Life, tenacious but ephemeral, battles relentless hardship across the barren snow.For what Delivering letters Letters And the dead Optimism or idiocy what s the real difference Because Words are the seventh wonder of the world Words from one soul to another.Words to change the world.Assassins or saviours Bullets or rescue teams Words from beyond the grave.Words that may take postman Jens and the boy to theirs.And then, after agonising survival, an oddly comic, but possibly deadly descent At the end of the world, coffee warm as Heaven, black as Hell may save, but liquor can slay.There s a fiercely independent woman serving both, her generosity hidden beneath the wings of her raven s heart.And a boy, who doesn t want physical strength or reckless masculinity, but words and education.If he lives Bodies dead bodies, lost bodies, bodies reaching out, bodies making love.A wet, glistening sweet, from one mouth to another and A thousand years passed.Body parts The heart is a muscle Shoulders of moonlight And eyes So many eyes of every colour and kind blue, flint coloured, pearls, bulging boils, black frozen puddles of death.A tentative, tender kiss on the eyes.Blind eyes that penetrate and seethan sighted eyes One of many reasons not to judge from afar And yet You can always know a person by where he or she looks Eyes don t lie Snow blind, blind drunk, dead drunk, blindsight, snow.But blind from lack of love If love returns, will sight And then the world goes out Stunning Literally and literarily I was left snow blind fed, but still hungry.I crawled out of the shelter of my snow cave, craving .More words Words to change the world, to change me The world went out, and so did I straight to The Heart of Man.QuotesNo plot spoilers They re hidden for brevity and easy scrolling.Words and Books view spoiler First it s words that freeze, then life Everything has to be called something except the nameless central, universal characters, the boy and the Village Some books are essential, others are diversions This is the former Read as naturally as you breathe Read until you stop distinguishing between the text and yourself Where words don t sit still on the page but instead fly to the sky and give us wings, even though we might not have sky to fly in Shit is shit and fancy words don t change that But they change you A person who holds a pen and paper has the possibility to change the world Power and wealth have never gone hand in hand with poetry, and that s perhaps why it s so incorruptible Written words can havedepth than spoken ones The paper is the fertile soil of the word This word, sorry, which goes such a long way and is so substantial that it can be used to build many houses and many bridges This wonderful smell of books and dust like Heaven Kierkegaard is dangerous He threatens to change us, he makes us doubt, he forces us to reconceive the world We prefer agreeableness to provocation, abstraction to stimulus, numbness to stimulation This boy vanished into the poetry, was hardly aware of the storm recited the poems out loud to himself, recited them like magic incantations and beheld another world Poetry kills, it gives you wings, you flap them and feel the fetters It leads you to another world, and then yanks you back, into a storm hide spoiler Life and Death view spoiler Life is just a thread that becomes brittle and fragile in the cold The downy soft embrace of death He who dies never returns Yet he who dies never leaves us completely he who dies is both near and far Human life is a vague tremor in the atmosphere it passes by so quickly that the angels miss it if they blink No one died that s how stories can be superior to life Live to experience what the dead cannot hide spoiler Weather view spoiler In Iceland there s never any spring It s winter and then comes reluctant summer Listens to the silence between snowflakes The wind, as transparent as time, is gone and left behind an apologetic breeze A gentle, immensely polite breeze A summer evening with birdsong and eternal light and the red midnight sun smelted them into one hide spoiler The Sea view spoiler The breath of the sea the heavy aspiration of a senseless creature, this treasure chest and grave of thousands The sea is grey and innocent looking and seems not to have anything on its conscience The sea is restless after the storms It is slow to regain its composure, storing the weather inside it like a memory The sea pants in the snowfall and drowned men plod along the seabed The sea is full of drowned lives yet people only catch fish the boy screams because we can t row out onto the sea of death and fetch the ones we miss hide spoiler Love view spoiler One must blow on the embers constantly to keep the fire alive life, love, ideals it s only the embers of lust that one never needs to blow on The heart needs to beat for others, otherwise it grows cold Kisses can float like summer blossoms down into the depths of sleep hide spoiler Eyes, Sight, Blindness view spoiler Kolbeinn saw little until he lost his sight Do I need to tear out my own eyes in order to see Kolbeinn sits in his eternal darkness and directs the broken mirrors of his soul towards the boy A woman s eyes Often appeared to be full of rain and wet horses just a glimpse of the woman filled one with hopelessness Wrinkles like sunbeams extending from her eyes hide spoiler Dreams view spoiler Man dies if you take his bread from him, but he withers without dreams Listens to the dreams of the night trickle from his blood and disappear into oblivion Dreams evaporate from him, ascend to Heaven where angels read them hide spoiler Miscellaneous view spoiler We re in a leaky rowing boat with a rotten net, and we re going to catch stars The end of the world All roads lead away from here Thousands of stars that twinkle like old poems over the land A butterfly is a bit like life Beautiful from a distance, but when you come close you see that it s just a winged worm Sometimes life isn t visible until you ve come right up to it, and that s why we should never judge from a distance All his life, since his father died, he s been leaving, has never known where he was going but his dreams are about this, getting away Lamps giving off decent light but leaving behind shadows as if the world were torn apart in some places by the darkness hide spoiler Nothing is sweet to me, without you Three Volume NovelThis is not a trilogy it s one novel in three, very closely related parts, covering just a few weeks 1 Heaven and Hell, reviewed HERE.2 The Sorrow of Angels, this book.3 The Heart of Man, review HERE For aconcrete idea of setting, plot, characters, and writing style, see my overview HERE.Image of snowflake contact lens

  2. Dolors Dolors says:

    The epic journey of survival against all odds that moulds the identity of the nameless boy continues in this second installment of St fansson s trilogy, setting the perfect foreground tone for the fiercest struggle between man and the hostile wilderness of the Icelandic remote lands.Divided in two main sections the youthful main character ponders about the value of literature, gettingacquainted with it in the first part of the narration and missing it acutely in the second one, where the The epic journey of survival against all odds that moulds the identity of the nameless boy continues in this second installment of St fansson s trilogy, setting the perfect foreground tone for the fiercest struggle between man and the hostile wilderness of the Icelandic remote lands.Divided in two main sections the youthful main character ponders about the value of literature, gettingacquainted with it in the first part of the narration and missing it acutely in the second one, where the extreme weather conditions become the main protagonist of the story, befogging the voice of the omniscient narrator with inner monologue, tragicomic dialogue and the incantatory poetry that breathes life into the menacing yet wondrous presence of the landscape that consumes it all.The boundaries separating Heaven and Hell, Sky and Earth, the Living and the Dead, dissipate into a muddled blankness that evokes the oblivion of non being.What is the use of printed pages in the face of the unbearable iciness that benumbs hearts and drowns men in the depths of the Polar Sea Why read Milton, Shakespeare or Dickens if the whiteness of the snow will end up blinding those who dare to question, who dare to look out And yet Jens the postman puts his life in danger to deliver letters, written words, at the end of the world, where angels weep tears of sorrow that coat slopes, gullies and ridges with whitewash made of gelid blizzards and biting snowflakes Humanity is reduced to nothingness in front of the inexorable forces of nature that create and destroy in their wake.Surely, the hazardous trip that boy and man embark on together to make a special delivery is a metaphor for mankind s pursuit of answers to fight against absurdity, to infuse meaning into a seemingly pointless existence, presented through the dual prism of St fansson s artistry.The inquisitive boy, whose unquenchable doubts nudge him to speak out, and the grumpy postman, who avoids words as if they were summoned by the same devil, will see their destinies irremediably intertwined in a mission that might shake the ground of their deeply rooted beliefs not only about the importance of words, but also about the fine line separating life from death, lust from love and reality from hallucination.St fansson is a poet, but the lyrical hues of his darkly sensuous prose is aerated with an outstanding understanding of the human psyche, moving shrewdly between realistic narrative, folklore and myth, blending the moralistic tale with the archetypal existentialist coming of age story His painstaking eye for detail draws an incredibly nuanced portrait of the Icelandic people, their precarious life conditions and the unusual mixture of coarseness and sensitivity that constitutes their collective ethos.In a place where man s angst, fear and impotence mean nothing against the undaunted harshness of nature, a place where his dreams, yearnings and minuscule joys don t have the slightest impact on his untamable habitat words might be futile or they might be the rescue team that melts petrified souls lost in the maelstrom of existence back into the throbbing pain of being alive It s only a matter of finding the courage to give them free entrance into the core of what makes us human

  3. Laysee Laysee says:

    It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful, it s a cover protecting the earth from the frost and bringing light to a heavy winter, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercy The Sorrow of Angels, Jon K Stefansson The Sorrow of Angels strikes me as a lovely, poetic title for a novel set in Iceland In this second novel, Jon Stefansson continues the story of Heaven and Hell during the season when winter segues into spring, and tells it with the same philosophic It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful, it s a cover protecting the earth from the frost and bringing light to a heavy winter, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercy The Sorrow of Angels, Jon K Stefansson The Sorrow of Angels strikes me as a lovely, poetic title for a novel set in Iceland In this second novel, Jon Stefansson continues the story of Heaven and Hell during the season when winter segues into spring, and tells it with the same philosophical and lyrical elegance The blinding beauty of snow, the ferocity of the winds, and the pitiless and overpowering force of wintry gales envelop everything that happens in this story I read this book while visiting Iceland this summer when the temperature hovered between 2 and at most 12 degrees Celsius I was also thrown off my feet once by exceedingly strong winds when trying to close the car door If this is summer, then I shudder to think what life is like in winter I read this novel then with a heightened awareness of the sorrow of angels, a phrase Stefansson uses to refer to snow angels weeping in Iceland When people live on the border of the habitable world, snow is merciless and potentially deadly Stefansson has myriad descriptors for the harshness of the landscape where postmen can lose their lives while collecting or delivering mail They toil against the North wind, which is stronger than anything in this country The weather changes everything here, the north wind and cold make us huddle in our homes and increase the distance between people It has been three weeks since the nameless boy lost his friend, Bardur, on a fishing trip He finds refuge in the house of three cafe owners Helga, Geirpruour, Kolbeinn who have extended hospitality to him He does chores around the house and reads Shakespeare to Kolbeinn who is visually impaired His new family recognizes his love for books and wishes to educate him, seeing he is too dreamy to become a fisherman For the first time he has his own room, a bed, and oil lamps to read into the night This sounds like bliss, yet the boy struggles with the guilt of living Does one betray the dead by continuing to live Bardur s death has led the boy to a different set of living circumstances where he has opportunities to meet learned individuals such as Gisli, the schoolmaster Will and should Bardur s death bring him happiness Before long, the boy leaves the security of the cafe and embarks on a journey with Jens, the mailman, on a high risk mail delivery assignment over a stormy fjord and windswept glacier They are later joined by another man, Hjalti, to make a special delivery for a grieving family This, in sum, is the plot of this novel.Reading their interminable hardship and continued battering by the forces of nature almost wears me out even though I marvel at the dogged perseverance of the characters The journey through snow and frost is unimaginably arduous and I feel relief whenever the party stumbles on a turf farm shelter buried in the snow There is some heartwarming writing in the growing closeness of the three men A cord of three strand is not easily broken They begin to communicateopenly than ever before about individuals who matter to them and how they should live their lives if they have a chance to survive the tyranny of the harsh and deadly cold The Sorrow of Angels pits mere mortals against the natural elements and celebrates the triumph and resilience of the human spirit There is in each man a light that flickers and refuses to go out, refuses to give in to the heavy darkness and suffocating death This light nourishes us and torments us, it persuaded us to keep going instead of lying down like dumb beasts and waiting for whatever might never come As in its predecessor, Heaven and Hell , this novel also celebrates the power of words as rescue teams The boy, previously taciturn, begins to speak muchto Jens and to recite poetry out loud when the exposed terrain threatens to overwhelm him Of what other use is poetry unless it has the power to change fate For readers who live in words, we know there is truth in this Beautifully written book

  4. Michael Michael says:

    Whereas Heaven and Hell, the first volume of the author s trilogy examining the relationship between the living and the dead in late nineteenth century Iceland, focused on the ways in which the cold, deep, and unpredictable sea can turn the living into the dead, Stef nsson s second volume, The Sorrow of Angels, describes how the stark and unforgiving landscape of snowfields, glaciers, and mountains swept by storms can perform the same transformation The saga of the boy is also a Bildungsroman Whereas Heaven and Hell, the first volume of the author s trilogy examining the relationship between the living and the dead in late nineteenth century Iceland, focused on the ways in which the cold, deep, and unpredictable sea can turn the living into the dead, Stef nsson s second volume, The Sorrow of Angels, describes how the stark and unforgiving landscape of snowfields, glaciers, and mountains swept by storms can perform the same transformation The saga of the boy is also a Bildungsroman that examines how one becomes a man and how far an individual may go in defining the concept of manhood within his particular culture It is also a paean to the power of words, exemplified in the gloriously beautiful, yet simple prose of Stef nsson, expertly rendered by his translator, Philip Roughton A classic existentialist novel, The Sorrow of Angels performs the most difficult task of bridging a trilogy with style, ending in a cliffhanger that forces the reader to count the days until the appearance of the concluding volume.There are books that entertain you but don t stir your deepest thoughts Then there are others that cause you to question, that give you hope, broaden the world and possibly introduce you to precipices.This book is in the latter category.For some people love never breaks, it never tarnishes no matter what storms rage in life, and the pettiness that can so easily undermine one in everyday life appears not to touch them Those who have the privilege of crossing the paths of such people momentarily perceive the purpose behind everything.Love, life, death, and the purpose if such there is of it all fill the spaces between the snowflakes the sorrow of angels in this wonderfully meditative adventure.Life, in any case, is rather simple Those who put one foot in front of the other, and then vice versa, and repeat it often enough, finally reach their destination if they have a destination at all This is one of the facts of this world.On the one hand, this is true, but there are certain complications.He who dies never returns, we ve lost him, no power in the universe is able to bring us the warmth of a vanished life, the sound of a voice, the hand movements, the touch of humor All the details that comprise life and give it validity have vanished into eternity, vanished only to leave an open wound in the heart that time gradually transforms into a swollen scar Yet he who dies never leaves us completely, which is a paradox that comforts and torments at once he who dies is both near and far.The question that both the boy and we must answer is Does one betray the dead by continuing to live Depending on our answer, we will either lie down in the soft and welcoming snow and slip into a dreamless and eternal sleep or rise to our feet oncein the face of the blinding blizzard and accomplish the impossible task of living in the face of certain death

  5. Leif Leif says:

    A clue to the title Here come the angels tears, say the Indians in northern Canada when the snow falls It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful, it s a cover protecting the earth from the frost and bringing light to a heavy winter, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercy It goes without saying read Stef nsson s Heaven and Hell first, as this novel continues the story and read it before Stef nsson s most recently translated The Heart of Man, the conclusion A clue to the title Here come the angels tears, say the Indians in northern Canada when the snow falls It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful, it s a cover protecting the earth from the frost and bringing light to a heavy winter, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercy It goes without saying read Stef nsson s Heaven and Hell first, as this novel continues the story and read it before Stef nsson s most recently translated The Heart of Man, the conclusion to the trilogy I loved this book too much to read it quickly, too much to put it down too much to criticize it for its swirling, skipping, thoughtful prose Poetry kills, it gives you wings, you flap them and feel the fetters It leads you into another world, and then yanks you back, into a storm, into the dinginess of the commonplace.With the boy and then with the boy and Jens the mailman of few words, readers walk the icy snows and death stealing winds of remote Iceland, waiting for pauses, breaks, calm When it comes, however, calm is onlytrouble the garrulous talk of lonely priests, the dangerous coughing of young children who demand that every story begin No one may die, the eyes of sheep in the darkness, the tempting breasts of a beautiful woman, the families of the recently bereaved, the possibility of alcohol for Jens and the boy, the trek to deliver mail to bring words, not news any, such is their pace, but word balances the howl of the storm against the alluring troubles of calm In the wind and with the word of poetry, a person comes to the most important questions what are we to do with those who betray themselves, betray life itself A ghost might be the only answer ghosts of the living, as Jens sees them ghosts of the dead, as the boy senses, equally if notacutely Because the word that the two carry might well be that of death and a signifier might easily slip into its signified, up at the cold, snow covered end of the world where they walk and wrestle with desire and with memory.To make this not so long story short I loved the language, the descriptions, the weather, the story, and the play of metaphors and meanings and tales I was torn emotionally by the way two men s journey with the mail became a meditative burial party of four and then, well, you ll have to get there to see Rich going, this novel Highly recommended

  6. Hanneleele Hanneleele says:

    One of the still too few Icelandic books I ve read and though my mother had some words to say about it I still conclude it to be worthy of being placed among my favorites Not only does the book speak a lot about poetry and books in the middle of nothingness, it is like a poem in itself and was a sudden and welcome gift from dear dear people I loved it And like many if not most good books it broke my heart a bit And outside my windows there are mountains with snow on them, even in the middle One of the still too few Icelandic books I ve read and though my mother had some words to say about it I still conclude it to be worthy of being placed among my favorites Not only does the book speak a lot about poetry and books in the middle of nothingness, it is like a poem in itself and was a sudden and welcome gift from dear dear people I loved it And like many if not most good books it broke my heart a bit And outside my windows there are mountains with snow on them, even in the middle of July and I would not want to be there in a snowstorm, which is what the characters in J n Kalman s book spend most of their time doing It s better if someone writes about it Even better if the words have a magic of their own

  7. Calzean Calzean says:

    Stefansson does not for the Iceland Tourist Authority His tale of the boy and Jens, the postman, is almost poetic as it describes them traipsing through storms, snow, rowing across a fjord, cold, near death, confronting their fears, hunger just to deliver the mail They walk, they fall, they slip, they fall, they rejoice when they find shelter and celebrate if they come across a remote farmhouse where they can some coffee and warmth They reflect on love and life and reveal why people elect to Stefansson does not for the Iceland Tourist Authority His tale of the boy and Jens, the postman, is almost poetic as it describes them traipsing through storms, snow, rowing across a fjord, cold, near death, confronting their fears, hunger just to deliver the mail They walk, they fall, they slip, they fall, they rejoice when they find shelter and celebrate if they come across a remote farmhouse where they can some coffee and warmth They reflect on love and life and reveal why people elect to live in this dangerous and extremely challenging environment.Looking forward to the third book in this trilogy

  8. Paul Fulcher Paul Fulcher says:

    They press on in the admirable or torpid obstinacy that characterises those who live on the border of the habitable worldSorrow of Angels is not so much a sequel to Heaven and Hell as simply the second of three volumes of the same novel by J n Kalman Stef nsson, beautifully translated by Philip Roughton Indeed it would be best read back to back, albeit the rich nature of the prose makes this a novel to be savoured in sips rather than consumed in one sitting So much of my review could simplThey press on in the admirable or torpid obstinacy that characterises those who live on the border of the habitable worldSorrow of Angels is not so much a sequel to Heaven and Hell as simply the second of three volumes of the same novel by J n Kalman Stef nsson, beautifully translated by Philip Roughton Indeed it would be best read back to back, albeit the rich nature of the prose makes this a novel to be savoured in sips rather than consumed in one sitting So much of my review could simply consist of repeating what I said about the first book Sorrow of Angels takes it s name from a phrase for the all prevailing snow that is arguably the book s most distinctive characterHere come the angels s tears, say the Indians in northern Canada when the snow falls It snows a great deal here and the sorrow of the heavens is beautiful It s a cover protecting the earth from the frost, but it can also be cold and devoid of mercySorrow of Angels presents a richer character study than Heaven and Hell, both those in the village introduced in the latter part of the first volume, but also a succession of memorable folk met on their journey that dominates this second story Against that, the set piece perilous journeys through the unforgiving Icelandic climate that dominate both volumes seem a littlecontrived here often the boy s travelling companion Jens deliberately takes the difficult route or refuses to simply wait out a late winter storm andrepetitive indeed this book suffers a little from us knowing there is a third volume so the boy must survive each ordeal The book is again ostensibly narrated by the lost souls of the dead, who share the obsession of almost every other character with coffeeWhy do we have to remember it so well it s been so very long since we could drink coffee, many decades, yet still the taste and pleasure haunt us Our bodies were devoured to the last morsel long ago, our flesh rotted off our bones, dig us up and you ll find just white bones that sneer at you, but despite that the pleasures of the flesh stick to us we can t get rid of them anythan the memories that overpower death Death, where is your powerBut here they, specifically one recently departed women, intrudedirectly, giving the latter part of the book asupernatural and ethereal feeling The power of words remains a key to the novel and indeed the theme is built on from the first volume Not that most of the characters are verbose, indeed other than the boy, they are almost universally taciturnMany choose to keep silent when life stings them hardest, since words are often just lifeless stones or torn and tattered garments And they can also be weeds, harmful disease vectors, rotten pieces of wood that can t even hold an ant, let alone a man s life Yet they re one of the few things that we actually have handy when everything appears to have betrayed us Keep that in mind As well as that which no one understands that the least important, most unlikely words can, entirely unexpectedly, carry a great load and bring life undamaged over dizzying ravinesAnd within those words, the written words, in books and poems is foremost And some of those words come from books and poems with the last paragraph and the trust in numbers perhaps containing an authorial illusion to Iceland s role in the financial crisisOf what use is poetry unless it has the power to change fate There are books that entertain you but don t stir your deepest thoughts Then there are others that cause you to question, that give you hope, broaden the world and possibly introduce you to precipices Some books are essential, others diversions Those who speak of the fury of mountain, of the sorrow of angels, take on the aura of a poet and thereby lose all credit poets are entertainers, parlour ornaments, at times clowns, and are consequently taken by us with a grain of salt It s conceivably true that poetry holds the ridiculous and beautiful core of the nation in its depths, but seven hundred years of struggle have shaped us and filed us down somewhere along the way we lost faith in the power of poetry, started to see it as a giddy daydream, a party decoration, and put all our trust in numbers and obvious facts, what we didn t understand or feared was shut up inside relatively harmless folk tales The last two thirds of the novel tells of an epic journey, almost a suicide mission, undertaken by the boy with Jens, the postman, delivering letters over the snowbound mountains to inaccessible parts of the country JensOn low ground he s silent, untactful, a little too inclined to drink and perhaps weak willed, but up here, at a height of nearly seven hundred metres, encompassed by black weather, life on the other hand, death on the other, he feels at home, flourishesit s a bit sad that this man flourishes nowhere but far from human habitation, far from life, in fact To shine nowhere but in mortal danger up on mountains can such a person find happiness and have a life on the low ground, with quiet moment, kind words, kisses and gentle eyesThe first third, tells the story of how the boy, for the first time in his life, sees a new way of life opening up in his brief stay in the village And on the trek, he finds himself feeling an odd emotion regret for what s he has hopefully temporarily left behindIt s a completely new experience for him to regret the loss of what hasn t disappeared into eternity This new regret is easier and there s light in it But regret over what The people, the selfsame trio, the security, the possibilities that can come with living in that house All his life, ever since his father died, he s been leaving, never known where he was going but his dreams are all about this, getting away In this lay hope, and reason to keep himself upright Getting away from the fish, the hardship, the haymaking, the incessant, destructive, everyday toil, the constant grind that rips people apart well before their time, takes the gleam from their eyes, the heat from their touch He s lived for three weeks now in a house where all the rules are somehow turned upside down, and he s supposed to begin his education when he returns, if he returns The village community is also dominated by women and the boy also finds himself rebelling against the culture of manliness in which he was brought upSometimes men like you are cowardly, they just don t stop You should have seen Petur s eyes light up when he described the courage of the men who dared not yield to a storm, dared not yield to dangerHow many families were broken up because of the foreman s manliness To think that you re left all alone in this bloody world because the foreman was so bloody manly This god damned manliness of yours suffocates everything that s good and sensitive and beautiful, it kills life itselfTheir journey eventually takes them to almost the end of the world, the Polar sea where whole months pass without any contact without the wider world, and spring is a battle against starvationI ve heard how it is here in the northern regions, little left but salted seabirds by the time spring comes people lie bedridden with scurvy, folk in their best years, some even need to be moved to other farms, to other districts, to get them back on their feet This must be the end of the world, declares the boy and then Bjarni comes with the coffee They avoid speaking for some time in order to enjoy the drink better You feel that we live at the end of the world, says Bjarni, not looking in any particular direction, although it s no secret to whom he s directing his words The boy Yes this is undeniablya bit distant from everythingAll roads lead away from here Bjarni And no roads lead here The boy, smiling apologetically, ashamedly That s probably not true Bjarni It s alright But it s good to be here, there are plenty of fish in the sea, birds on the cliffs, we have fifty sheep, it s quiet here, no one to push you around He who lives here is free That must be something The end of the world, what s that What to you is the end of the world is home to me Overall, another excellent instalment in a moving story I look forward to the next volume, The Heart of Man, when the themes developed in the first part of his book arefully developed

  9. Matthias Matthias says:

    As often in trilogies, the second book improves on the first in several ways There isgorgeous landscape, the characters showdepth, and the author deliversof his enjoyable mixture of dry humor and nordic spirituality I am probably too generous with the stars, but I am addicted to this sort of slow, contemplative prose Reading this is like watching a film by B la Tarr I am tempted to compare this to to another trilogy, Hans Henny Jahnn s _River Without Banks_, but will postpo As often in trilogies, the second book improves on the first in several ways There isgorgeous landscape, the characters showdepth, and the author deliversof his enjoyable mixture of dry humor and nordic spirituality I am probably too generous with the stars, but I am addicted to this sort of slow, contemplative prose Reading this is like watching a film by B la Tarr I am tempted to compare this to to another trilogy, Hans Henny Jahnn s _River Without Banks_, but will postpone that until after I have read the third part.In my comment about the first volume I lamented about the German translation Curiously, I really liked the the translation this time, again by Karl Ludwig Wetzig.Maybe I was in a bad mood while reading the first volume

  10. Jeremy Jeremy says:

    4.5 Stefansson sets the bar for lyrical prose Page after page of marked text, like a map to life s mysteries, I wondered what would be dreamt next Well, there s also a lot of wandering through a snow storm in this one, almost two hundred pages of men travelling in a whiteout, and while this shows the author s extreme skill for this not to become tiring, it strains the overall momentum, ending on a note that makes it seem like half a work that The Heart of Man hopefully finishes.

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