We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Iceland Imagined

Nature, Culture, and Storytelling in the North Atlantic

By Karen Oslund; Foreword by William Cronon

Publication Year: 2011

This cultural and environmental history sweeps across the dramatic North Atlantic landscape, exploring its unusual geology, saga narratives, language, culture, and politics and analyzing its emergence as a distinctive and symbolic part of Europe. The book closes with a discussion of Iceland's modern whaling practices and its recent financial collapse.

Published by: University of Washington Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (109.1 KB)
pp. v-vi

Map 1. The North Atlantic

pdf iconDownload PDF (236.4 KB)

Map 2. Iceland

pdf iconDownload PDF (503.7 KB)

Map 3. Greenland

pdf iconDownload PDF (421.4 KB)

Map 4. The Faroe Islands

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.1 MB)

read more

Foreword: Amid the Mists of Northern Waters and Words

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.2 KB)
pp. vii-xii

I should probably confess right at the outset that I myself am among the people described in Karen Oslund’s Iceland Imagined who have had a life-long fascination for this remote and eerily intriguing island in the North Atlantic. When my fifth-grade class back in the mid-1960s spent...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (55.9 KB)
pp. xiii-xvi

In Christina Sunley’s novel The Tricking of Freya, the Icelandic “bad boy” Sæmundur—a stand-in for the trickster god Loki—explains to the heroine why the terrain at Þingvellir is so rocky and hard for her to balance on: “Think of the earth as an egg with its shell cracked. We are standing on...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (203.6 KB)
pp. 3-29

On my first visit to Iceland, an Icelandic acquaintance took me for a driving tour around the Reykjanes peninsula. On this southwestern corner of the island, the capital of Reykjavík is surrounded by a cluster of outlying suburbs and neighboring communities...

read more

1. Icelandic Landscapes

pdf iconDownload PDF (428.0 KB)
pp. 30-60

Icelandic nature, particularly in its extreme manifestations of volcanoes and glaciers and their potential to create natural disasters, has long fascinated travelers. The striking idea of a land shaped by fire and ice grips the memories of visitors, even as the tourist industry has rendered the image...

read more

2. Nordic by Nature

pdf iconDownload PDF (150.1 KB)
pp. 61-81

On his outward voyage from Copenhagen to the Faroe Islands in 1828, the German bird enthusiast Carl Julian Graba noted his sighting of “the first Northern birds” (die ersten Vögel des Nordens) of the voyage off the coasts of the Shetland Islands. Although he had...

read more

3. Mastering the World's Edges

pdf iconDownload PDF (353.8 KB)
pp. 82-103

Despite the work of the officials to improve material conditions in the North Atlantic, making a living there was never easy. One of the problems for the farmers, at whom the Icelandic and Danish officials aimed most of their efforts, was the absence of tools, especially...

read more

4. Translating and Converting

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.5 KB)
pp. 104-122

The inside of the grocery store in the village of Kulusuk in East Greenland looks like any other Danish grocery store. The jam is a well-known Danish brand (Den Gamle Fabrik), the yogurt also comes from Denmark, and the socks and underwear, like those everywhere...

read more

5. Reading Backward

pdf iconDownload PDF (203.8 KB)
pp. 123-151

Landing in the Faroe Islands is not very comfortable for people prone to airsickness. Of the eighteen islands that make up the Faroes, only one of them, the westernmost of the larger islands, Vágar, has enough flat ground to build runways. The airport at Vágar was built by the...

read more

Epilogue: Whales and Men

pdf iconDownload PDF (203.8 KB)
pp. 152-170

It is difficult, for outsiders anyway, to think about Iceland without dealing in metaphors and symbols. Whenever Iceland surfaces in the international press, journalists are apt to explain whatever the issue at hand might be in terms of sagas, Vikings, volcanoes, glaciers, earthquakes...


pdf iconDownload PDF (325.9 KB)
pp. 171-219


pdf iconDownload PDF (193.5 KB)
pp. 220-251


pdf iconDownload PDF (74.7 KB)
pp. 253-261

E-ISBN-13: 9780295802992
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295990835

Publication Year: 2011