- Iceland: a postcolonial literary landscape?
- Book title
- Thi Timit Lof: Festschrift für Arend Quak zum 65. Geburtstag
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
How does Iceland appear in postcolonial literary texts by writers from Denmark, the former colonial power? Three texts from modern Danish literature were chosen, with Iceland as their main theme and based on first hand knowledge of the country gathered through sojourns and travels by the authors: Rejse paa Island (Journey on Iceland, 1954) by Martin A. Hansen (1909-1955); Nord for Vatnajøkel (North of Vatnajökull, 1994) by the writer-art historian Poul Vad (1927-2003) and Raevesletten og andre islandske omveje (The Fox Plain and other Icelandic detours, 2009) by the painter-graphic artist Per Kirkeby (1938-) and the writer Keld Zeruneith (1941-).
These travelogues, in various ways, are hybrids of text and image emphasizing Iceland's exotic, insular and primarily literary qualities. Critical analysis leads to the hypothesis that these postcolonial depictions are characterized by a high degree of descriptive stylisation and aestheticism and by a prominent role of visual forms of representation. While decolonisation itself is an issue in the oldest work discussed, this is no longer the case in the two more recent books. Iceland has become a post- colonial landscape, a palimpsest-like space where political open wounds from the past are overwritten by the aesthetic gaze, which primarily focuses on the graphic qualities of the Icelandic countryside.
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