Gljúfrasteinn was the home of writer Halldór Laxness (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1955) and his family for more than half a century. He was prolific during his lengthy career and his books have been translated into 43 languages and published in more than 500 editions.
Halldór Kiljan Laxness was born in 1902 in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, but spent his youth in the country. From the age of seventeen on, he traveled and lived abroad, primarily on the European continent. He was influenced by expressionism and other modern currents in Germany and France. In the mid 1920s, he converted to Catholicism, and his spiritual experiences are reflected in several books of an autobiographical nature, chiefly Undir Helgahnúk (Under the Holy Mountain), 1924. In 1927, he published his first important novel, Vefarinn mikli frá Kasmír (The Great Weaver from Kashmir). Laxness’s religious period, however, did not last long, and he became enamored by socialism during a visit to America. Alþydubókin (The Book of the People), published in 1929, is evidence of a change toward a socialist outlook. In 1930, Laxness settled in Iceland.
Laxness’s main achievement consists of three novel cycles written during the thirties, dealing with the people of Iceland. Þú vínviður hreini, 1931, and Fuglinn í fjörunni, 1932, (both translated as Salka Valka), tell the story of a poor fisher girl; Sjálfstætt fólk (Independent People), 1934-35, treats the fortunes of small farmers, whereas the tetralogy Ljós heimsins (The Light of the World), 1937-40, has an Icelandic folk poet as its hero. Laxness’s later works are frequently historical and influenced by the saga tradition: Íslandsklukkan (The Bell of Iceland), 1943-46, Gerpla (The Happy Warriors), 1952, and Paradísarheimt (Paradise Reclaimed), 1960. Laxness is also the author of the topical and sharply polemical Atómstöðin (The Atom Station), 1948.
Laxness’s home is open as a museum and preserved just as it was when he lived and worked there. In the reception building you can watch a multimedia presentation dedicated to his life and work. Laxness lived for almost the entire 20th century, and his life and works reflect the cultural, political and intellectual movements that shook and transformed the world during the century. Books and souvenirs are for sale in the museum gift shop.