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The Blue Fox

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The year is 1883. The stark Icelandic winter landscape is the backdrop. We follow the priest, Skugga-Baldur, on his hunt for the enigmatic blue fox. From there we’re then transported to the world of the naturalist Friðrik B. Friðriksson and his charge, Abba, who suffers from Down’s syndrome, and who came to his rescue when he was on the verge of disaster. Then to a shipwreck off the Icelandic coast in the spring of 1868.

The fates of all these characters are intrinsically bound, and gradually, surprisingly, unravelled in this spellbinding fable that is part mystery, part fairy tale.

Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic poet and novelist. His novels have been translated into twenty-five languages and include From the Mouth of the Whale and The Whispering Muse (both by Telegram). Sjón won the Nordic Council Literary Prize, the equivalent of the Man Booker Prize, for The Blue Fox and "Best Icelandic Novel" for The Whispering Muse in 2005. Also a songwriter, he has written lyrics for Björk, including for her eight studio album, Biophilia.

112 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author


56 books590 followers
Sjón (Sigurjón B. Sigurðsson) was born in Reykjavik on the 27th of August, 1962. He started his writing career early, publishing his first book of poetry, Sýnir (Visions), in 1978. Sjón was a founding member of the surrealist group, Medúsa, and soon became significant in Reykjavik's cultural landscape.

Since then, his prolific writing drove him to pen song lyrics, scripts for movies and of course novels such as The Blue Fox.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,101 reviews
Profile Image for Ilse (away until November).
475 reviews3,129 followers
December 12, 2022
In the snowflake that lingered on his fingertip lay a gleaming hair –there was no mistaking the colour:blue.


Discussing this brief novel in the book club and afterwards glancing through its pages another time, this book grew on me, unveiling more of its magical beauty and mysteries reading some of its lyric passages again. Having read Sjón’s Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was a few years ago, The blue fox came across as a more accomplished piece of writing. I greatly enjoyed its marvellous non-linear composition, the slow disclosure how the narratives in the story embrace each other, its multiple layers and the visual quality of the poetic prose.

Taking into account the slenderness of the book – only 112 pages - the variety of forms in which Sjón unfolds the narratives is dazzling, creating a kaleidoscopic landscape out of poetry, fable, myth, science and history (the story is set in January 1883). Shifting in register, tone and pace the fragments merge together into a dark fairy tale thrusted forward by the contrasts between good and evil, tradition and modernity, hate and love, bigotry and science, taking care of the weak versus abandonment, repudiation or even murdering of the ones who are different.


The weather was mild, with light cloud and a gentle southerly breeze; the winter sun floated over the wilderness, fat and red as the yolk of a raven’s egg. This was the calm that had ridden on the wings of yesterday’s storm

What particularly resonated with me was how wonderfully Sjón’s writing tuned in to what I have read of other Icelandic authors before –Jón Kalman Stefánsson’s stunningly poetic trilogy (Heaven and Hell, The Sorrow of Angels, The Heart of Man) – and the mock Viking epos Wayward Heroes by Halldór Laxness. Each in their own way, these novels testify of the vital role poetry played and plays in Icelandic life. Harsh, unforgiving and grim as life and the human species can be, poetry is life-enhancing and can give life meaning. Poetry is what lasts on our lips while we die, poetry is at the centre of the universe. 'I have seen the universe! It is made of poems!' Fridrik cries out in his student days. And the universe, or nature, sending a storm and a blue vixen, has the power to restore justice. At least in fairy tales what goes around comes around.

(paintings by Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval)
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
969 reviews6,869 followers
June 25, 2013
'I have seen the universe, it is made of poems.'

All things change—nothing perishes.’ – Ovid

It always astonishes me when a book can create a vast amount of power and meaning out of such little story and length. Set amid the snow and ice of an Icelandic winter, Sjón’s The Blue Fox, winner of the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize, is as still and quiet as a coffin yet holds a horrific truth inside. Sjón masterfully laces two stories together, one of Reverend Baldur’s fateful hunt for a blue fox and the other looping through the life of Fridrik Fridjónsson as he must bury a young girl whom he has been caring for, crisscrossing across space and time like a shoelace looping upward on a boot; what appears as two separate ideas stringing themselves together is really two ends of the same bootlace working towards a purpose far greater than itself. With succinct prose that is both serene and sinister, The Blue Fox is an impressive interlacing of lives, as well as fables and reality, that dredge up the dark recesses of the human heart.
The sun warms the man’s white body, and the snow, melting with a diffident creaking, passes for birdsong.
The lyrical ecstasy that was only hinted at in The Whispering Muse is displayed in all it’s poetic glory in this earlier (2004) novel by Icelandic author Sjón. Gently building to the heights of a lyrical epic as each word gracefully falls with the next like a winter’s snowfall, Sjón’s prose is as sparse, crisp and still as the icy landscapes depicted within. Yet underneath the chilling beauty is a volatile darkness that can strike as suddenly and violently as the avalanche triggered by the Reverend's gun. Adorned in the breathtaking prose is a bleak tale of abuse that blankets a young girl with down syndrome all the way to the grave, and the heavy burden that Fridrik shoulders as he is unable to turn a blind eye to her suffering. It is the innocent that suffer the most, and often at the hands of self-righteous figures that lurk behind a façade of faithfulness and civility.

The grim plot that is sewn together through luring language further emphasizes Sjón’s signature ability to seamlessly knot reality and myth together to create a lucid world of magical realism. There is a fable-like quality to the novel that allows the moral musings to hover in a near-fantastical state in order to be better examined, and also opens the novel up interpretation. The myths and fables of the past are right at home with the 1880’s setting, yet the novel itself conveys the feel of our modern day literature. Each of the four sections of the novel are delivered in their own unique style of form, and Sjón threads back and forth across Fridrik’s timeline to execute his control over the revealing of his and Abba’s history—using the places where Fridrik’s history brushes against the Reverend’s as the method of providing the minimal backstory of Reverend Baldur—all of which reaches towards the direction of post-modernism. Here we have a perfect blend of the past and present, with Sjón looking to the myths and fables as a way of providing the groundwork for modern literature, accepting the modern era without rejecting the past, shown through the Reverend’s debate with the fox on God and electricity. The Reverend is against the idea of electricity, made up of ‘atoms of the world, which form the kernel of God’, being sent by wires into every home and business to drive machines. To which the fox responds:
But if electricity is the building material of the world, and light its revelation, compare the first book of Moses, and God himself is a being of light, though perhaps we can’t see this with the naked eye—like the pitch-black rock that surrounds us—well, couldn’t you say then that in reality it is one all-embracing world mission to bring God into people’s homes via electric power lines; even illuminate whole cities with him— n'est-ce pas?
Why must modernization mean the destruction of the old? ‘Surely the transmission of electric power ought to be desirable in the eyes of the Church, and its servants, if it is the Almighty Himself who shines in the lamps?The Blue Fox, set in a time of modernization, is a call to keep the stories of old alive in our hearts, and in our literature.

A quick aside, if I may. When reviewing The Whispering Muse, I discussed that I had detected an intentional use of misogyny, which may have been a statement on the treatment of women in mythology. I found it interesting that this novel featured the sole female role as the victim of abuse at the hands of men, and that it is a male character that attempts to be her redeemer. While this may seem to be playing into misogynistic beliefs at first glance, it is important to note that those who abuse are punished and are fated to become trapped in fables themselves. What had seemed in Muse as a call to ‘rewrite the myths’, as Adrienne Rich put it, seems applicable here as well. We are all human, we are all equals, and deserve to be treated as such regardless of gender, race, beliefs, etc. It is those that violate this that create the grimness in the world, and it is in fable that we find the proper punishment for them—punishments befitting the crimes in order to tow the moral lesson along as it sets the world in balance. As I said before, I may be looking into this too hard, but it is worth considering.

While The Blue Fox is not a novel that hits the reader over the head with brilliance (it does, however, tug fiercely at the heartstrings), it is one that weaves into the readers heart and mind and stays there for days begging to be unraveled in order to reveal it’s secrets. Each word feels so polished and perfect as it slowly constructs an immense, foreboding landscape of snow and mystery—immense despite the tiny 115pg package through which it is delivered. Sjón has created something truly magical here that does justice to the literary tradition of fables and myths to which he pays homage to. Powerfully succinct, The Blue Fox is an exquisite blend of myth and reality with a bite to it like the bitter winter winds.

But the closer the priest came to his goal, the less man there was in him, the more beast.

Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
May 4, 2019
jeff vandermeer's drawing of the cover:

 photo IMG_2107_zps6al0womn.jpg

the first sentence of the book’s description on the back cover of my copy is:

Set against the stark backdrop of the Icelandic winter, an elusive, enigmatic fox leads a hunter on a transformative quest.

which is itself an elusive, vague sentence, but it is also the most cheekily appropriate summary; one you don’t really appreciate until after you’ve read the book. which you should do. because i’m not sure how to review this responsibly, without giving away the farm.

it’s only 115 pages, and the first 1/3 is made up brief paragraphs clustering in the center of the page, surrounded by a tundra of white space. which is a perfectly fitting presentation for its events, as a hunter tracks a blue fox through the snow, miles from civilization with nothing to see but snow, rocks, and the occasional glimpse of his quarry.

the book is divided into four parts:

I January 9-11 1883
II January 8-9, 1883
III January 11-17, 1883
IV March 23, 1883

and the events contained therein bleed into each other, giving slow-revealed context to the relationships between the characters and the darkly ironic repercussions of their decisions and actions.

the writing is descriptive, atmospheric, a beautifully peaceful invocation of the natural world:

The world opens its good eye a crack. A ptarmigan belches. The streams trickle under their glazing of ice, dreaming of spring, when they’ll swell to a life-threatening force. Smoke curls up from mounds of snow here and there on the mountainsides - these are their farms.

Everything here is a uniform blue, apart from the glitter of the tops. It is winter in the Dale.

but nature is as deadly as it is beautiful, and here the amoral brutality of nature is juxtaposed artfully against the cruelty of man, who ought to be more civilized and thoughtful than the forces of nature, but so frequently falls short.

brief, faintly magical, fierce and affecting - it reads like a fable, but it’s got thorns for days.


the second book in my third quarterly literary fiction box from pagehabit

which i had been wanting to read for a while, but had never actually bought, even though it has been featured prominently on greg's and my "foxen and wolf" table topper and sells really well.

 photo IMG_1830_zpsvp6wdbyf.jpg

so many foxen!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,566 reviews1,895 followers
April 30, 2020

I was getting worried in my own way. I had finished two books and written reviews for neither, started on a third, was reading test pages from a fourth , and had taken receipt of a fifth which was dauntingly longer than I had expected - but with the unexpected potential benefit of being able to use it as a foot stool, when in the middle of doing a task that no-one else could do for me, I was thinking over something I thought was a weakness in this very short little book.

That was the relationship between the characters of Fridrik and Abba, a woman who has Down's syndrome. This is a novel set in the late nineteenth century in Iceland. We learn in the course of this little story something of the range of abuse that Abba experiences, even that most children born then with Down syndrome were killed at birth by the midwife and that this was not considered a crime, in fact the opposite, the mothers who insisted on keeping their children were considered idiots. Yet the author was expecting me to believe that Fridrik alone was able to completely escape the prejudices of his time and for the two to have a decent and admirable relationship.

Busy as I was, I none the less went over what the story told me about him to see if there was some-kind of clue or explanation for Fridrik having escaped the mind-forg'd manacles of his own society. Medical student in Denmark, drug taking while there, sitting through the night in the morgue to supplement his bursary, having read and translated a paper from a British journal authored by Mr Down that described the syndrome that he recognised - in the form of thought and language of the time, which perhaps you can well imagine. Among the achievements of the nineteenth century we can look to fantastic city cleaning drains, continent crossing railways, mighty ocean crossing ship, but a love and appreciation of the variety of human life would not count as one of them. So I was left thinking that the character of Fridrik was miscast as keystone to carry the narrative weight of this story, until I realised how transformation was the theme of this tale, in his case the transformation necessary to make possible his relationship with Abba.

In the middle of the book we get a splash of Ovid, and that is a reminder that transformation can have a magical, or perhaps better said, a super-natural element. Iceland in this story is in every way on the edge of the world. It is a place where the naturalist is also involved with the super-natural. Here an Elf maid can appear, clad only in a hat and a pair of drawers to invite a clergyman to drink of the waters of life. A man can become a fox. A fox might be sent to lead on a man to self-destruction or perhaps to salvation through transformation, the wider world of the tea trade itself appears to be more magical - which no doubt it is - than an icy natural world in which ravens are still Odin's children and a father may sell his daughter for a gun. Death here is no full stop, merely a change of direction.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
943 reviews14k followers
December 21, 2015
Hmm. I bought this just because it sounded interesting, and it made me remember why I stopped doing that. The synopsis was better than the book. There were so many characters with different names that it got confusing, the format was discombobulated, it was pretty hard to understand and in general I just didn't understand the cohesiveness or significance of any of the events. I was glad it was short, and even more glad that I was able to finish it quickly. I wouldn't recommend this one unless you could read it in the original language, because I think it would flow better when it's not awkwardly translated.
Profile Image for Greg.
1,117 reviews1,878 followers
August 16, 2010
A Self-Righteous Aside
Searching for images of a Blue Fox is disturbing. Here is a non-disturbing picture:

but for just about every photo of fox in the wild, there is a creepy drawing of cartoonish blue vixen with big boobs, or even worse pictures of fattened and depressed looking foxes being kept in cages awaiting their murder for their fur, dead foxes having been killed for their fur, or well the end result of their murder. Now murder might be a harsh word, and some people believe fur is right to people to wear, but is this fucking necessary?

There is something disgustingly wasteful about the existence of fur covered USB drives.

We are a wasteful and disgusting species.


A.S. Byatt claims this book to be lyrical and comical. I think A.S. Byatt and I have differing opinions about what comical means. I'm not sure exactly what she finds comical in this book, I think she might be meaning some cosmic irony type of humor, the sort of dark stuff that God would laugh about, if there were a God and he needed to be entertained by making people and animals suffer in strange and melancholy ways. There is a moment in this book that I chuckled out loud (something I rarely do when reading), but that wasn't the norm for my reaction in reading this book.

Even Bjork's blurb of this being magical somewhat missed what I felt the tone was of this book. The book is more magical than comical, but when one thinks of magical there is a feeling of whimsy that I think is also present. Here there is something darkly touching going on in the book. There are some magical moments, but they aren't the moments I'm going to be remembering about this book.

The basic plot strands are as follows. A pastor hunts a blue fox. A naturalist prepares to bury a retarded girl who has been his assistant for the past ten years or so. The retarded girl was saved by the naturalist after she had been tied up on a ship and raped repeatedly by the sailors on the ship. Except through the eyes of someone like Lars von Trier would this elements be seen as possibly comical.

I don't have too much else to say, I'm don't want to give away too much of the plot. Books should be allowed to unfurl themselves to a reader and not have their entire plot ruined by some shitty internet reviewer. But here is another picture of a fox to enjoy:

[image error]
Profile Image for Sue.
1,272 reviews548 followers
October 20, 2014
This Icelandic novella set in the late 19th century, is part historical fiction, part folktale or fantasy (that blue fox does some amazing things), part morality tale in recounting a two-fold story of the Reverend-hunter and Herbalist Fridrik. Also integral is Abba, or Hafdis, a young woman with Downs, who lives with Fridrik. Their story is the warm heart of this tale.

There is also some beautiful, and sometimes humorous, prose.

The night was cold and of the longer variety. (p 14)

The rim of daylight was fading.
In the halls of heaven it was now dark enough for the
Aurora Borealis sisters to begin their lively dance of the
veils. With an enchanting play of colors they flitted light
and quick about the great stage of the heavens, in
fluttering golden dresses, their tumbling pearl necklaces
scattering here and there in their wild caperings.

(p 28)

The world opens its good eye a crack. A ptarmigan
belches. The streams trickle under their glazing of ice,
dreaming of spring, when they'll swell to a life-
threatening force. Smoke curls up from mounds of snow
here and there on the mountainsides---these are their
Everything here is a uniform blue, apart from the
glitter of the tops. It is winter in the Dale.
(p 37)

I'll leave the story of the fox for you to read.

I am increasingly enamored or Icelandic literature no matter the genre. There is something there that appeals to me. This book will go in my favorites list and I will seek out more from Sjón.
Profile Image for Araz Goran.
824 reviews3,629 followers
April 15, 2017
أعجبتني أجواء الرواية والغموض الذي يسري في كلماتها وتفاصيلها.. رواية تنبض بالتشويق والغموض،، كما أنها لاتخلو من رؤى فلسفية وبعض الخرافات التي كانت بمثابة حجر الاساس التي بنيت عليه الرواية..
لا يمكنك ان تستمتع بالرواية أذا لم تصب تركيزك فيه وتغوص في أجواء الجبال الايسلندية والثلوج المتساقطة والاجواء الباردة والكهوف المظلمة..
العيش في جو الرواية هو ما يتطلبه لكي تفهم الرواية وإلا ستجد انها مملة وبلا أي هدف أو معنى...
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,083 followers
February 7, 2020
Librito extraño y maravilloso.
Un fábula que planea entre ficción y realidad, rescatando elementos Históricos y con una prosa que en realidad tiene mucho de poesía.
Es una historia muy peculiar y evocadora. Cuando terminas el libro sientes que acabas de salir de un sueño al que quieres volver a entrar.
***Está publicado en español también: https://www.nordicalibros.com/product...
Profile Image for Meike.
1,593 reviews2,825 followers
July 9, 2020
Winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize 2005;
English Translation: The Blue Fox

This short novel is mythical and dark, and it contains Sjón's typical brand of Icelandic magical realism: A realistic historical setting is elevated by the sudden impact of surreal elements that might be imagined by the people perceiving them. The book is set in 1883 and its heart is the destiny of Abba, a character who is already dead at the beginning of the story. She had Down's Syndrome and was ostracized by the community - she only survived as long as she did because Friðrik B. Friðjónsson, who studied medicine in Denmark and thus learnt what Abba's condition actually was, had taken her under his wings. Priest Baldur Skuggason is now supposed to hold a burial, but shortly after, he goes missing while trying to hunt down the title-giving blue fox. In a surprising twist, we learn about the connections between Abba, the fox and the priest...

In Icelandic, the novel is entitled Skugga-Baldur, subheading: "Þjóðsaga", a folk tale. Sjón employs numerous allusions to Norse mythology, most obviously in the title itself: A skuggabaldur (no hyphen; for why the title has one, check the name of the priest) is a mythological figure, a mixture between a cat and a fox that often stands for the mixture of the human and the natural world - go figure (and watch out for the cat in the novel). Sjón's enchanting language reverberates his background as a poet, musician and lyricist for Björk and Lars Von Trier, and the text is split in four parts that are structured to heighten the effect of the above-mentioned mysterious connection:
I. (9.–11. Januar 1883)
II. (8.–9. Januar 1883)
III. (11.–17. Januar 1883)
IV. (23. März 1883)
...which makes only 11 days in total.

So while this wonderfully lyrical, atmospheric book is a true piece of art, it's also a piece of social criticism talking about the stigmatization of a genetic disorder and human cruelty. Sjón is still not famous enough considering the quality of his work.
Profile Image for ✔️ JAVI ®️.
150 reviews15 followers
September 12, 2023
6/10 ⭐⭐⭐
Novela corta islandesa (131 páginas) que se inspira en las leyendas populares del país. Al no estar familiarizado con el folklore islandés se que muchos matices se me han escapado. Al final del libro, el epílogo del traductor Enrique Bernández, aclara algunos de ellos.
Como en cualquier historia que sucede en Islandia el paisaje es protagonista. La naturaleza en general, capaz de aplicar justicia.
El pastor Baldur sale a la caza de un zorro pardo, poco habituales en aquella parte del país. Para conocer más acerca de este pastor se entrelaza la historia de Abba y Fridrik el herborista. Personajes que dan sentido a la novela y a lo sucedido en la cacería.
Un estilo original, poco habitual, del polifacético Sigurjón Birgir (escritor). Lo más parecido que he leído es "Canto yo y la montaña baila" y, aunque me gusta experimentar y conocer esta clase de narraciones, no llegan a convertirse en mis preferidas.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,890 reviews1,419 followers
December 21, 2022
With an enchanting play of colors they flitted light and quick about the great stage of the heavens, in fluttering golden dresses, their tumbling pearl necklaces scattering here and there in their wild caperings.
After a few pages I didn't expect to enjoy this book. I then fell (almost literally) to some minor infection and as I rested, I continued to read, and the text reminded me of those paper flowers which blossom when immersed in the water. Of course, there are myriad themes close to me in the book: solitude, poetry, the disabled and obviously Iceland. I found myself swept along and I could smell the peat burning, taste the grimy coffee and imagine the peregrinations of the elusive fox. The Blue Fox isn't a novel as much as a story elongated with line breaks, perhaps a prose poem by other means, though hardly a distillation.
Profile Image for Elena.
124 reviews995 followers
September 19, 2019
Islandia 1883.
A medio camino entre la novela corta, ficción historica, fantasía o cuento de hadas.
Sjón se describe como un escritor "minimalista": usará tan solo las palabras justas y a partir de aquí el lector tendrá que trabajar con lo que le es ofrecido, abriendo la veda a distintas posibilidades de interpretación.
Recomiendo no saber nada del argumento y ver qué evoca en uno mismo esta historia.
Profile Image for Repix.
2,228 reviews428 followers
January 17, 2022
Belleza, crudeza, reflexión existencial.
Una pequeña obra de arte.
Profile Image for Ms.pegasus.
723 reviews141 followers
June 2, 2022
This novel is set in an Icelandic shadowland where the trappings of time and identity melt into each other like warped memories. Winter snow becomes spring flood. The water suddenly recalls another existence, one of unbridled power overwhelming the pathetic presumptions of human dominion. "After a winter of heavy snow the river runs wild, bursting its banks with such demonic force that the dirty gray meltwater surges out of its course, flooding the marshes and forming lakes in the graveyard, leaving the church stranded on an island in its midst." (p.69) Mere metaphor transforms inanimate objects into living entities. A glacial tongue hollows out a cave. (p.85) A fox is “swallowed” by a blizzard. (8) The aurora borealis is a troupe of sisters performing a seductive dance of veils. (p.28) The eponymous blue fox is real (Alopex logopus with bluish tinted fur). Yet it morphs into varied versions. “The black one, the shy one, the dancer, and the yelper.” (p.31) “Blue foxes are so curiously like stones that it  is a matter for wonder. When they lie beside them in winter there is no hope of telling them apart from the rocks themselves….” (p.32)
The novel opens with what feels like a prosaic hunter’s tale, set in 1883. Our sympathies are entirely with the hunter’s quarry. She is small, cautious, valued not as an object of subsistence, but merely for the value of her pelt. At a critical moment, however, the scene abruptly shifts.

It is two days earlier. A herbalist, Fridrik B. Fridjonsson, is preparing for the burial of Abba, a Down’s Syndrome girl whom he had rescued and taken in. Iceland has been a nominally Christian country since the 1st millenium. Sjon discloses the shocking information that Down's Syndrome infants were routinely murdered at birth. A visitor, Hálfdun Atluson, is also mentally deficient. We learn he is the servant of Rev. Baldur who treats him shabbily, feeding him on “stewed-to-pulp coffee grounds.” (p.41) We have already learned that Baldur is the hunter in Part One.

As the story progresses we learn more about Rev. Baldur, the “man of God.” He is coarse in both appearance and speech. He harbors a petty vindictiveness toward his brother. He uses the pages of a hymnal as wadding for his rifle. He applies violence to keep his parishioners in line. He bans the simple Abba from church services. We even detect his hubris. During his hunt Baldur strips off his wet clothing: “...he took off every stitch and sat there as he was created: in nothing but his skin. He was the child of Earth-Sun's daughter.” (p.16) On the one hand, there is an allusion to the Sun's disobedient daughter in the mythology of another culture. Implicitly it appears to be an exultant claim of a demi-god lineage.

Sjon might well imagine himself a trickster like the foxes portrayed in the myths of other cultures. The joke here is that the pastor's full name is Baldur Skuggason. A skuggabaldur is the malevolent offspring of a tomcat and a vixen according to Icelandic myth. They prey on farm animals, can speak and cannot be killed by a gun. It is only one of those examples that reflect the fear that must pervade a people in constant conflict with nature and subjected to abrupt shifts like flooding from the spring snow melt and violent volcanic eruptions.

Sjon fills his novel with subtle reversals. He is more forthright in an inscription on some wooden blocks treasured by Abba. The first reads: “All things change – nothing perishes.” (p.62) The second reads: “The burden that is well borne becomes light.” (p.67) Both are quotes from Ovid's Metamorphoses

Death, compassion, vengeance, hubris and evil are touched on in this slender novella. The language is poetic. The imagery is complex. I needed to conduct extensive searches because of the questions I had. The book has garnered extensive critical acclaim. Unfortunately, the novel failed to move me emotionally in the way the author obviously intended. This was certainly an interesting read, but not one I really can say I enjoyed.

reviews: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2013...


Interview with the author:

Interesting translation note: The Icelandic edition was published with the title Skugga-Baldur. The German edition was published as Schallenfuchs. The Portuguese and Dutch editions were published as Raposoazul and Blauvox respectively.
Profile Image for Flo.
278 reviews88 followers
December 24, 2022
I wanted to read this book for months but decided that I should keep it for winter. Unfortunately, the expectations were too high and my fear of the presence of a hunter came true. For this story, those descriptions were too much for me.
Profile Image for Olha.
108 reviews137 followers
June 4, 2019
Відкладіть ваші звичні книжечки і доторкніться до чогось незвичного по-особливому прекрасного.

Читати «Дитя землі» – це ніби вперше почути Sigur Rós. Не схоже ні на що з того, що слухалося раніше. І вже ніби готовий перервати пісню десь на початку, але вона затягує в свої тягучі нотки і запрошує у свій морокливо-сонячний світ, який вкриває твою гусячу шкіру приємним теплом.

Ісландський роман. ХІХ століття. Я не люблю читати про природу, про старі часи, про дивні традиції, які мені не близькі, про відсутність тієї цивілізації, до якої я так звикла і яку так люблю в наш час. Та якимось дивом роман Сйона мене заполонив. Просто не могла відірватися. Переслідувала блакитного песця чи була в його ж шкурі і тікала від переслідувача. Співчувала Аббі із синдромом Дауна і була тим, хто над нею знущався. Про цей роман гарно сказала Бйорк: «Сйон зумів об’єднати розум і серце». Кінець історії, до речі, все дуже гарно об’єднує, тож остаточні враження такі приємно цілісні, а не вирвані з намаганнями все склеїти докупи.

Я взагалі не планувала читати цю книжку, бо, на жаль, з блогерством все більше звертаю увагу на популярні новинки, зрідка читаю класику, а книжки типу «Дитя землі» Сйона відкладаю в безкінечний вішлист, думаю, що коли-небудь прочитаю, та потім роками навіть не купую. Не будьте як я.

Щиро раджу читати «Дитя землі» Сйона від видавництва «Видавництво» . Дуже якісне видання з прекрасними ілюстраціями всередині. Ну бо справді, коли ви востаннє читали скандинавського автора чи авторку? Впевнена, дехто таки напише в коментарях, що зовсім нещодавно. Але більшості бажаю таки взяти до рук «Дитя землі».

4,5 ⭐️ з 5-ти.
Profile Image for Sara Zovko.
356 reviews80 followers
February 21, 2017
Ovo je lijep i poetičan, kratak roman, ali bio bi još i bolji da je duljeg formata. Taman kad sam se uživjela u knjigu, pohvatala likove i surovi islandski krajolik, puf, kraj.
Pa sad ne znam, jedna od onih knjiga kojima bi istovremeno dala i 1 i 5, što me prilično frustrira.
Pa zato zlatna sredina.
Profile Image for Babette Ernst.
250 reviews41 followers
July 31, 2023
Ein sehr dünnes Büchlein, manche Seiten sind dazu nur wenig beschrieben, und doch steckt in diesem Text sehr viel. Er ist in vier Kapitel gegliedert, die auf einzelne Tage im Januar und März 1883 datiert sind und Ereignisse in einem isländischen Dorf schildern. Zwei Kapitel drehen sich um die Fuchsjagd des Pfarrers, die anderen um einen Botaniker, bei dem es einen Todesfall im Haus gab. (Klingt doof, aber bei einem so dünnen Buch will ich nicht gleich die ganze Geschichte verraten). Die Sprache ist sehr poetisch, zaubert Bilder der Landschaft und Eindrücke der Menschen. Pfarrer und Botaniker stehen dabei für gegensätzliche Haltungen in Island. Der Botaniker hat in Dänemark, dem Land der Besatzer, studiert und dabei etwas Weltoffenheit und Zugewandtheit mitgebracht. Der Pfarrer blieb sein Leben lang in Island, verkörpert die alten Sagen und Mythen, scheut sich nicht vor den Unbilden und Härten der Natur. Doch auch der Botaniker, der sich mit der Pflanzenwelt seiner Heimat und deren Nutzbarkeit beschäftigt, liebt sein Land. Aber es gibt Traditionen, die einer Veränderung bedürfen. Menschlichkeit zeigt sich nicht im Talar, sondern im Umgang mit den Schwächsten einer Gesellschaft, das wurde hier in beeindruckender Weise gezeigt. Nicht jede Szene erschließt sich sofort, dadurch habe ich mich immer wieder mit dem Buch auseinandergesetzt, wie es bei einem mehrfachen Seitenumfang kaum häufiger vorkommt. Es wird garantiert nicht mein letztes Buch von Sjón gewesen sein.
Profile Image for Salma.
400 reviews1,119 followers
September 3, 2013
بعيدا مع الثعلب الأزرق!ه

في سهوب آيسلاندا القاسية و المكسوة بثلوج شتاء قاتم، كان هناك صياد يلاحق ثعلبة زرقاء...ه
بينما في قرية آيسلاندية عشّاب يقوم بتحضير جنازة لفتاة مصابة ببلاهة منغولية كان يرعاها مذ عـُـثر عليها مقيدة قبل سنين في سفينة ضخمة مهجورة جنحت للشاطئ ذات عاصفة...ه
هاتان القصتان المنفصلتان تتداخلان و تسيران جنبا إلى جنب في سرد مشوق لا يخلو من ظرف... و يتمازج الواقعي مع الخرافي لتجتمعا أخيرا في نهاية واحدة...ه
الثعلب الأزرق رواية ساحرة غريبة تحملك إلى أعماق الحياة في آيسلاندا القرن التاسع عشر... تتراقص أمام ناظريك و تتشابك الأسطورة و الغموض و العادات و الطيبة، ناشرة في الجو نوعا من الخدر اللذيذ... فتجعلك أخف و أخف شيئا فشيئا حتى يتلاشى وجودك و تتماهى داخلها:ه

كانت ثعلبة سمينة كالزبدة...ه

لم تكن هناك ممتلكات بالغة قيمة تستحق الذكر: حقل صغير ناء في بركا، البقرة (قرن معقوف)، بعض النعاج الهزيلة، كمان، رقعة شطرنج، خزانة للكتب، دولاب الغزل الخاص بأمه، والقط المتلصص (فريكي الصغير). كانت خطته تقتضي أن لا يطيل الإقامة. سيبيع المواشي لجيرانه بأسرع وقت ممكن، ويسدد الديون، ويوضب الأثاث، ويشنق القط، ويضرم النار في مباني المزرعة المتداعية ناحية التلال، مسخرا كل معرفته لإنجاز الأمر بأفضل طريقة ممكنة. هذا بالضبط ما كان ليفعله لو لم يرم الكون في وجهه لغزا غير متوقع...ه

كان يرتدي نسيجا صوفيا تحتيا سميكا معالجا بحيث يستطيع الوقوف منتصبا من تلقاء نفسه، قميصا من جلد الأرنب، و سترتين من الصوف، واحدة خفيفة وأخرى بالغة السماكة، سروالا دنماركي، ثلاثة أزواج من كلسات صوف محبوكة وحذاء من جلد الفقمة غير الحليق، أما فوقها جميعا فكان يلبس سروالا من الجلد وأيضا معطفا جلديا بصدر مزدوج و أزرار من عظم الحوت.ه

فأخذ يقوم بما يمكن لأي آيلسندي أن يقوم به في حال وجوده في مأزق، و هو أن ينشد أغاني شعبية، أبيات شعرية وأراجيز، و يغني بصوت عال لنفسه...ه

كهذا مثلا:ه
Magnús Þór Sigmundsson Íslandsvindar

خدشت قطة عجوز نفسها ليلة رأس السنة، وهذا ينذر بقدوم ريح عاصفة مخيفة، هو ذا نوع الأرصاد الجوية التي نحترفها هنا

يا إلهي كم حلقت معها حتى نسيت الواقع و الأخبار و كل واقعنا المنهك والحزين... و مع أنها لم تخل من ظلم و شر و قباحات بشرية و لكن الطيبة التي تلفها لا تجعلك تشعر بالمقت و السخط، و لطالما كان مدار ما يجري في هذا العالم هو حول العين التي ترى و تضفي على ما ترى، أكثر مما تراه وتنقله... فرغم كل شيء هناك دائما لمسة من لطف و خير... و ما هنا إلا عين طيبة و حالمة... أفرزت رواية جميلة رغم قصرها... جعلتني أتنفس الصعداء، بعد طول تحريم للروايات الممتعة على نفسي، و اتباع خطة قرائية صارمة تناسبا مع الواقع الموحش... و كأني كنت أكسر حمية غذائية صحية دامت لأشهر بقطعة من الشوكولاتة... حتى هيء إلي الجنة منقوعة بالروايات و الحلويات...ه
و أتساءل حقيقة ما الذي سيضر لو أني قرأت رواية ممتعة هكذا بين فترة و أخرى! هل سأكون معدومة الضمير لو هربت قليلا من الواقع بين فترة و أخرى قبل أن أختنق؟ ه

على كل أحسبني عثرت على روائي جديد يسعدني تتبع أعماله، شون
"و هو اسم أدبي اختاره لنفسه و يعني بصيرة"
هذا الكاتب الآيسلندي المولود عام 1962... ه

و أخيرا انتهت الرواية برسالة يرسلها العشّاب لصديقه خاتما إياها بهذه الجملة: ه
"صديقك المحب و النجيّ على تخوم (العالم الصالح للسكنى).ه"
تمنيت لو أني أنا أيضا في آيسلندا، بعيدا على تخوم هذا العالم الصالح للسكنى!!! للمجانين ربما...ه

حين أنهيت الرواية، انتبهت أني كنت أبتسم... و الله! ه

أيلول 2013

و شكرا للزميل إسلام على هذا الاقتراح
Profile Image for Inna.
654 reviews158 followers
August 13, 2022
Це було так прекрасно: невеличка книжкова х��іртка в ісландську архаїчну зиму!
За відчуттями книга нагадала мені «Крижаний замок» Весоса, хоча розумію, що сюжетно там майже нічого спільного (хіба лінія «Більдур-Песець» здивувала схожим передчуттям драми ). Ще одна чудова історія в скрабничку «Перечитувати тільки взимку!»
Profile Image for mel.
359 reviews15 followers
July 21, 2023
This trully is “a magical novel," as Björk put it.

1883. A priest, Skugga-Baldur, goes on a hunt for a mysterious and rare blue fox in a harsh Icelandic winter. And a story about a herbalist, Friðrik B. Friðriksson, and Abba. Nature and man, both savage and ruthless.

Quite a simple story, but told in a magnificent way. I loved it.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,544 reviews12.9k followers
May 21, 2016
This should be called The Blah Fox because that’s all I felt after reading it: blah!

Set in 1883 Iceland for no reason, a dickhead hunts a rare blue fox in the snow, eventually shooting it. Cut to a different time for no reason and we’re introduced to a dead girl called Abba who had Down’s Syndrome. Then it’s back to the present where the dickhead is covered in snow after his shot caused an avalanche. Mamma mia, what the hell’s the story, my, my, what a crappy novel!

Sjon (you think you’re like that demented pixie Bjork? Does everyone in Iceland go by one name?!) knocks together an utterly forgettable non-story full of poorly written characters. This thing left absolutely no impression on me.

I get that the first section is written sparsely – some pages literally contain only a sentence – to illustrate the quiet of hunting but there’s really nothing much else to say about this garbage. We learn that in ye olden days the Icelandic peeps used to kill babies with Down’s Syndrome at birth. There’s some dull magical realism which I guess has something to do with Scandinavian tradition maybe. Blargh, it’s just so boring and pretentious!

If you see a blurb on any cover from Bjork recommending that book, stay well away from it. The Blah Fox was my first and last venture into Icelandic literature!
Profile Image for Pedro.
502 reviews152 followers
September 13, 2021
La novela comienza en el silencio de la montaña, donde el cazador acecha y persigue pacientemente al zorro. Pero, ¿Quién es este cazador?
Para saberlo, la novela retrocede a los días previos, en el pueblo, en los que el silencio y la austeridad del relato se ven reemplazados por la dramática y atrapante historia en torno a los personajes centrales, Frederick, el herbolario; Hafdís (Abba), su protegida; Halfdán, y el Reverendo Baldur Skuggason, para volver finalmente al desenlace de la persecución del zorro, con ribetes que bordean lo fantástico.
Aunque me costó un poco ubicarme en los distintos escenarios, con su atmósfera específica, una novela excelente, que tal vez merezca una relectura.
Profile Image for Larnacouer  de SH.
733 reviews162 followers
October 16, 2016
"Evreni gördüm! Şiirden yapılmış!"

Kuzeyi haliyle soğuğu ve sadeliği sevenlere özellikle hitap edecek, flashback - flashfoward'lı umduğumdan çok daha güzel bir kitaptı Mavi Tilki.

Farklı kültür ve coğrafyalara değinen kitapları zaten seviyorum da, ölmeden önce yapılacaklar listemin ilk sıralarında Kuzey Işıklarını görmek olunca insan kitabı böyle bağrına basmak istiyor cidden.

Bilmiyorum ben çok sevdim ama herkese hitap edeceğini düşünmüyorum.
Profile Image for Madara .
148 reviews21 followers
February 24, 2018
Katra rindkopa kā glezna.

Un Tu esi Islandē.

Un mistikā, un ziemā, ledū, ielejās un sniegā, un apdomājot, vai caur spuldzi, elektrībai cauri, mājās ienāk Dievs.

Vai arī - esi ēnu lapsa.

Izcils tulkojums.
Profile Image for Ajeje Brazov.
729 reviews
December 13, 2020
Novella intrisa di leggende, immersa nelle lande sperdute e ghiacciate dell'Islanda, paese ricco di atmosfera magica e fantastica, dove le antiche leggende nordiche affondano le proprie radici.
La storia pare all'inizio semplice ed immediata, ma nasconde al suo interno molteplici significati. La scrittura è poetica e caratterizzata da sfumature crepuscolari tipiche delle narrazioni classiche dei paesi nordici, qui ancor di più, perchè l'Islanda essendo un'isola caratterizza questo isolamento e lo sublima fino a divenirne mito.
Lo scrittore ci accompagna in questa avventura alle radici di un paese di fine 800, ancor più isolato ed immerso nella natura più aspra e selvaggia, dei nostri tempi.

Profile Image for Doug.
2,047 reviews746 followers
December 9, 2018
4.5, rounded down.

This is my second sojourn with Sjón, and I think it safe to say that nobody writes like him. His short historically based Icelandic novellas sweep one into another time and place, and for the few brief hours it takes to read them, one is transported. As in my first Sjón, book, 'Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was', this takes place in the 19th century and is loaded with fascinating details. And as in that previous book, the ending, although aptly fitting, is both a surprise and a delight. Will definitely be reading more from him.
Profile Image for Natalie.
422 reviews
July 30, 2016
"U tvom svijetu možda ovo ne bi bila velika vijest, ali ovdje jest: jedna je žena umrla, a jedan je čovjek nestao".

Kratak roman o maloj zajednici sa mjestom radnje negdje na rubu svijeta davne 1883.g. na Islandu.

...jedna žena sa Downovim sindromom, jedan svećenik, lov na rijetku plavu lisicu i puno onog po čemu je Sjon postao drugačiji u pripovijedanju. Sve mi je tek na kraju postalo milije. Preporuka!
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