Hagalin, Gudmundur Gislason

   An Icelandic novelist, short story writer, and biographer, Hagalin hailed from the isolated West Fjords, but he received an education and traveled abroad, including an extended stay in Norway. An extremely productive writer, his earlier books are of greater literary significance than his later works. His literary debut was a collection of prose and poetry entitled Blindsker (1921; Submerged Rock), the stories of which have the Icelandic coast as their setting. A second collection bears the title Strandbiar (1923; Coastal Dwellers), and one of the strengths of its stories is the naturalness of the language spoken by the characters. His first novel, set in the same locale, is Vestan uur fjordum: Melakongurinn (1924; From the West Fjords: The King of Melar), in which very strong-willed characters are pitted against one another, with particular attention to the conflict between young and old. It was followed by the novel Brennumenn (1927; Firebrands), in which the conflict is between socialists and a local capitalist in a fishing village.
   The characters of Kristruun i Hamravik (1933; Kristrun of Hamravik) are also endowed with great strength; the title character, an old woman, is willing to fight against all kinds of obstacles in order to see her farm occupied by her family for generations yet to come. The novel Sturla i Vogum (1938; Sturlafrom Vogar) also sings the praises of simple rural living. Blitt lætur veroldin (1943; The Lure of the World) tells about a young boy who, under the influence of an older girl, learns to perceive the beauty and goodness of life. Modir Island (1945; Mother Iceland) deals with the corruption that was brought about by British and American influences during World War II.
   After World War II, Hagalin's conservatism caused him to be out of touch with the emerging literary audience in Iceland. Between 1951 and 1979 he continued to publish novels, short stories, and essays, but his emphasis was on a multivolume autobiography and on writing biographies of living persons.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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