Saturday, 8 September 2012

An Icelandic ABC

"As is known, the ability to read and write was almost as common in Iceland before the days of printing as it has been since;  and actually I think that my grandmother was closer to the people who lived before the days of Caxton.  Spelling books were never used in Iceland.  My grandmother said she learned to recognise the letters of the alphabet from an old man who scratched them for her on the ice when she had to watch over sheep during the winter.  She learned writing from an old woman by making letters with a knitting needle on a piece of smoky glass; they used to tinker with this unobtrusively in the evening sometimes, by moonlight."

The Fish Can Sing   Halldor Laxness
translated by Magnus Magnusson

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