|Along the south coast|
For me, the effect comes on in different ways: through the landscape; language; the sudden impressions of travel that overlay the memories of childhood; but, perhaps most importantly on this trip, the way this island, isolated and wild and filled with ghosts and apparitions, forces a certain kind of storytelling.
During our travels, we're going to tell four medieval sagas of the Vikings who lived here - Njáls saga, Laxdæla saga, Gísla saga, and Egils saga - and along the way something of my own saga. Once, when my father and I were talking, he told me the reason I wanted to be a writer was because I was descended from Snorri Sturluson, a saga author who died in 1241.
In one way, every Icelander is descended from Snorri -- it's a small country, after all. But I think my father was trying to give me something more specific than that. He was claiming for me a direct line of descent that influenced who I was, and who I might become. An influence that is as difficult to express as landscape, language, or memory. Or indeed the Iceland effect, and the way a story can have great power if it's told in the right way, at the right moment.
We are going to see if we can find out: something more about Snorri, and along the way something more about the way Iceland makes us into stories of our own.
|Thingvellir, site of the old parliament (established in 930)|
|At Reykholt, Snorri Sturluson's farm|