Read Splinten fra Argo by Sjón Kim Lembek Online


Splinten fra Argo er lige så visionær og original som Skygge-Baldur, der sidste år tog såvel anmeldere som publikum med storm, og dog er det en helt anden historie og et helt andet miljø. En sømandshistorie bringer os fra Københavns Frihavn i selskab med en vindtør, gammel islandsk knark (en person bygget over forfatterens oldefar) til Moldervog i Norge. Her strander skibeSplinten fra Argo er lige så visionær og original som Skygge-Baldur, der sidste år tog såvel anmeldere som publikum med storm, og dog er det en helt anden historie og et helt andet miljø. En sømandshistorie bringer os fra Københavns Frihavn i selskab med en vindtør, gammel islandsk knark (en person bygget over forfatterens oldefar) til Moldervog i Norge. Her strander skibet, og styrmanden Kaineus´ fortællinger fører på magisk vis tilbage til de græske myters anderledes storslåede og kraftfulde verden. Året er 1949, og efterdønningerne af anden verdenskrig blandes på underfundig vis med beretningerne om de græske søheltes dramatiske fremfærd....

Title : Splinten fra Argo
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788711171137
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 140 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Splinten fra Argo Reviews

  • Elyse
    2019-06-15 12:06

    An eccentric Icelander with lofty ideas of fish consumption on Nordic civilization has been invited to join a Danish merchant ship on its way to the Black Sea. One of the crew members, a mythical hero, is disguised as a ship mate. Every night after dinner, he tells stories of how he sailed with the fabled vessel 'Argo' on its quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece. "There it was fighting to free itself from the hook, bending the rod to breaking point for what seemed like an eternity--it took me a full forty minutes to reel it in. When it finally stopped flapping about the deck and lay gasping at my feet, I calculated that this gargantuan fish would suffice for at least two meals for the seven of us at the Captains table". This slim book is really quite funny….with some hilarious physical transformations… Things get quirky..... fishy with pure diluted seawater. This story is a great fit right now- matching the heavy rain storm in the Bay Area. Sijon writes lyrically and delightful.

  • Henry Avila
    2019-06-12 05:57

    Quirky Icelander Valdimar Haraldsson, an octogenarian, living in a tiny apartment, in Copenhagen, Denmark, is a firm believer in the benefits of eating fish, frequently, he has written books and magazine articles, even lectured, to this, supposed fact, and views the Nordic people's healthy and robust bodies, as a confirmation of that undeniable truth. Nevertheless being twice a widower, he is an unhappy, lonely and rather bored man...until an unexpected invitation from Danish shipping magnate, Magnus Jung-Olsen, to take a trip on his new ship, the Elizabet Jung-Olsen, her maiden voyage, too, Valdimar, had been a great friend of the wealthy man's son, Hermann, late friend, he was killed young, in a tavern brawl...ironically celebrating the end of WWI, in Vienna .The year is now 1949, from Denmark , to Norway, all through the Mediterranean Sea, to the Black Sea, the freighter, will travel during the spring, picking up cargo, and delivering it to different ports, along the way. Appreciative of the fabulous, accommodations, he, Valdimar, finds, a suite, two rooms, as good as Captain Alfredson's, all free... arriving in a Norwegian fjord , (feeling better) to receive raw paper, there, put it in the ship's wells, the crew, will do, and leave, but first seeing the vast operations, a complicated procedure, miles of long, rail tracts , for the heavy lumber, from the distant forests, to finally , getting to the paper mill, for processing, a dangerous job, obviously for the hardy workers, accidents happen often ...unfortunately this situations takes place.. a family man, is very badly hurt, (quite mangled)...tempers, inevitably flare, punches are viciously struck...Mr.Haraldsson watches, he cannot do anything else. ..Staying longer than planned, still at night, after work, dinner, the crew, including himself, the captain, and the few passengers, ( one not a respectable woman, on board) listening intently , to the second mate's Caeneus, a gigantic old, charismatic gentleman, if that is an appropriate term, sea stories...yarns which strangely begin, by his taking out a piece of ancient wood, (from the Argo?) really a splinter, raises that to his right ear and listens carefully...the fantastic, famous, mythical tales of Jason and the Argonauts. They come to an island in the Aegean Sea, deserted by the men, only women left... well you don't have to guess, you known what will happen...years have passed since the ladies have seen a man. This fantasy from Iceland, is a strange mixture of two realities, if I may loosely call this novel, that, a combination of what could be, and something that only exists in a book...Your enjoyment depends on how far you're willing to be taken on a strange voyage, into unknown worlds, of the imagination...

  • s.p
    2019-06-13 12:11

    'The wind was in our favor.'Stories are the building blocks for our lives and the whole of human history. We all have our own personal experiences which we share with others to create an image of ourselves in their minds, and through the stories of our ancestors we can chart the progression of history as it marches toward the present, while witnessing the creation and destruction of all the civilizations, religions and other governing systems of belief across it’s ever-growing timeline. Even our early moral lessons are often instilled in us by children’s fables and folktales. Language and narrative are essential tools in our understanding the world around us, which makes literature and mythology such a valuable barometer for the culture it was born within. Icelandic author Sjón’s The Whispering Muse (2005) uses the conversations and stories which fill the decks and dining halls of a Danish steamship as a consummate catalyst for an amalgamation between the tales of Jason and the Argonauts, as well as Norse mythology, Christianity, sailor’s songs, and the political climate in the fallout of WWII. Both playful and ponderous, The Whispering Muse launches the reader on an abstract voyage where the boundaries of myth, cultures, and reality itself begin to dissolve, and a larger, more encompassing vision of humanity begins to take form. Through a variety of narrative devices and subtle connections, Sjón intricately layers together individual sagas and culture mythos to create an epic in miniature that forms a gateway between the real and the mythological as well as an intersection of cultural and religious traditions. Sjón has earned an impressive reputation back home for his novels, poems, plays, and song lyrics (preformed by Bjork), and is now slowly gaining readership outside of Europe. Rightfully so, as this quiet novel leaves quite the lasting impression through its subtle knots of narrative structures and mythology. There is a poetic ecstasy lurking within The Whispering Muse underpinned by a filter of a stuffy academic narrator. It’s like hearing breath-taking music muffled on the other side of a thick wooden door, and while the technique works for humorous reasons within the novel, it is nearly impossible to not read another of his novels as if throwing the door open in hopes of being washed in that elusive poetic beauty (this promise is fulfilled in The Blue Fox: A Novel). Keeping tight control on his pace and prose, Sjón has created something wonderful here.Valdimar Haraldsson, a pompous and overbearing journalist whose life work is to expound on his belief that the Nordic people are genetically superior due to their fishing industry and diet of fish, details the several days spent aboard the MS Elizabet Jung-Olsen on the first leg of it’s passage from Norway to Turkey. The choice of the insufferable academic as narrator is brilliant as it opens up a comedic rift between what transpires and the way he perceives it, and he often misreads or is utterly oblivious to the social cues of those around him. Haraldsson takes everything far more serious than anyone else, which is a point of bewilderment to the crew at times, and sees the world through a very narrow perspective. This forms the great irony in the novel, as Sjón builds an elaborate human mosaic that can only be seen through the perepheries or lapses in the narrator’s restrictive vision and the vast assortment of perceptions are funneled down into the driest and most self-important of them all. Much of the poetic beauty that reaches his ears comes out through his narrative voice in dusty terminology and pretentious adornments, and the true reactions of the crew can only be discerned by reassessing the fleeting bits of descriptions that have already re-forged in his mold of perception. Each night after dinner (a humorous bit that resurfaces a few times is that, while the crux of Haraldsson’s theory is the Nordic’s fish consumption, the ship never serves fish.), the second mate tells a continuing story of his time sailing with Jason and the Argonauts. While the story is seemingly outlandish, crude, and improbable, the crew never seems to doubt it’s validity, much to the chagrin of our narrator, who is doubly aggravated by the ‘prop’ through which the mate puts to his ear and hears the story from: a splinter of wood from the Argos.I hear something that could best be compared with the soporific hiss of our shortwave radio receiver: as if a handful of golden sand were being shaken in a fine sieve…Once the ear has fallen asleep, the humming takes on a new form. It becomes a note, a voice sounding in the consciousness, as if a single grain of golden sand had slipped through the mesh of the sieve and, borne on the tip of the eardrum’s tongue, passed through the horn and ivory-inlaid gates that divide the tangible from the invisible world.We all have our muse. We have our history, our loves, longings, hopes and sorrows that compel us to tell our stories. The world is a collection of stories, and each story is filled with stories within them. Even if we are the lead in our own story, each secondary character down to the walk-on extras have their own stories to tell. Whispering Muse is composed of all these stories within stories, often told through differing voices (the narrator usually, but not always, admittedly supplying his own variation on the actual words), and different narrative forms such as Norse lyrical epics or simple drinking songs. This is a story of Haraldsson’s voyage with many other narratives that weave in and out of it and further telescope into the narratives that are contained inside them as well. While each individual thread within the novel is captivating on it’s own, it is the subtle ways through which they intersect that is most impressive. The narratives point towards each other like the two ends of a bridge unfinished in the middle. Our minds understand and apply the non-existent bridge as the connection between both ends, and it is this non-existent bridge, this abstraction, where we find the heart of Sjón’s story. There is the Greek myth of Jason in which the crew is treated to a ballad telling the violent Nordic myth of Sigurd and Gudrun, further emphasizing the mix of Greek mythology with the Nordic setting of Haraldsson’s story. Similarly, the extended stay of the Argo’s in Lemnos coincides with the MS Elizabet Jung-Olsen being held at port through the Easter season until the factory crew can return to work and load the ship and the Christian Easter story is reflected in the Greek tale of Caeneus when he is nailed to a cross to heal his broken body. The separate myths and stories begins to all hum together to form a euphoric choir of voices delivering a poignant melody of humanity as one giant mythos. Theses characters all experience the pain of humanity as a whole having suffered the horrors of WWII, and there is a subtle cry for worldwide unity that is forever fractured by the political struggles that the characters still see around them. Sjón seems to offer a hope that can come only if we break down our barriers and open our minds. In this new world where reality and myth blur, even the impossible can be possible. It may be my recent readings of Adrienne Rich’s masterful Diving Into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 rubbing off on me, but there seemed to be a misogynistic vibe throughout the slim novel. The female roles are often seen as conniving tricksters (such as the Purser’s girlfriend—who is only known by her relation to the male figure of the Purser, one of the subtle ways language can be used to show her as subservient), prostitutes, or pitiful creatures needing the comfort an protection of the men of the Argos. This may be used to reflect the stereotype of rough, roguish seamen, and it reflects on the way women have been treated poorly through history. Men have shaped them into this position through their tales, and, as Rich offers, mythology has chained women to these roles in the perceptions of men since they grow up hearing these stories and have their beliefs shaped by them. Towards the end there is a dramatic and heart wrenching account of a young maiden's rape by Poseidon ((view spoiler)[she then chooses to become a man to avoid any further rape (hide spoiler)]) and the emotional response it elicits from the Purser’s girlfriend. The crew gives her a moment of silence to collect herself and shows her due respect, and the narrator reads this as ‘the weeping [was] for all of us. Four years had passed since the end of the great conflict but we still couldn’t believe that humanity had won.’ Perhaps this is to show an empathy for the women and that the horrors of war which befell all, men and women, have allowed people to see one another as equals in humanity. I’m not sure if this is completely unfounded, yet the misogyny seems intentional only to be used to further Sjón plead for worldwide unity and equality. As Adrienne Rich stressed, we must rewrite the myths. I leave this issue to those with better reading powers and insight than my own.The Whispering Muse is a fantastic little novel that serves as a perfect introduction to this Icelandic author. Quietly edging forward, Sjón never falters with his polished balance of intertwining stories that blossom out of each other like fractals. It left me wanting more, showing that the author has huge potentials that were not quite reached in this book, some of them being self-imposed restrictions such as the narrators stuffy grip on the prose. A fun and fascinating re-telling of Greek mythology, as well as an engaging story of ships and frosty landscapes, The Whispering Muse is a delicate, delightful book of great imagination where reality is reshaped and the myths walk among us.3.75/5["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Claire McAlpine
    2019-06-01 13:01

    I loved this little gem of a book, that demands much more than the 143 pages it is written on. It is an invitation to embark on the adventures of The Argonauts, as told by the second mate Caeneus, who while voyaging on a ship in 1949 narrates his previous adventures on the Argo under Captain Jason in their quest for the Golden Fleece. Not being familiar with the epic poem written by Apollonius of Rhodes, (Hellenistic poet, 3rd century BC) I diverged off course to familiarise myself with its plot, and some of the named characters mentioned, as this is a book full of mythological literary references that make a pleasant and fulfilling divergence in its reading.Set in 1949 as an elderly, eccentric Icelandic man is invited by the father of one of the fans of his work on Nordic culture and fish consumption, to embark on a voyage at sea from Copenhagen to the Black Sea, he recounts his journey as he sees it, while learning about the grand voyage of Caeneus.The sources quoted on the last page provide a link to the sparks that ignited the imagination of Sjon. Entertaining, intriguing, intellectually stimulation and fun, what more could one for from a book read on the 1st day of the new year 2016.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-20 09:02

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  • jeremy
    2019-06-19 05:47

    much like the blue fox, sjón's the whispering muse is possessed of qualities that linger long after the novel has concluded. combining elements of greek mythology with modern storytelling (as well as incorporating his grandfather's fascination with icelandic & nordic fish consumption), the whispering muse (argóarflísin) is a lyrical, imaginative work. set mostly upon a merchant ship in the spring of 1949, the crew is regaled nightly by the astonishing tales of mate caeneus's adventures sailing with jason and the argonauts. there is a quiet beauty and simplicity to sjón's writing, but his novel is hardly a disposable affair. the whispering muse's undulous, dual narratives are charming and seamlessly intertwined, while sjón winningly blends his twin influences of the contemporary and the classical. grief crushed the liver-red gull's heart as caeneus recognized in the tramp's burst pupils the most splendid champion the world had ever known, the man who had commanded the most famous heroes in days of yore, he who had won the love of queens and enchantresses; yes, there the gull saw the ruins of his old captain, jason son of aeson.*translated from the icelandic by victoria cribb

  • Gia Scott
    2019-05-26 12:02

    This was a strange book. Essentially, it's the tale of a tale being told, with the telling occurring a long time ago (for most of us living souls) about an even more ancient tale.It was okay, but...I just could not ever really get into the story. The main character comes off as somewhat pompous with an overblown sense of racial/ethnic superiority. I couldn't identify with him, or with his points of view. I wanted to shove him off the boat and into the sea, preferably with circling sharks in the vicinity.Just like there is chick lit, maybe there is guy lit too. It might be a tale with a more masculine air about it, and I missed the entire point because of the gender difference. For me, reading this one started to smack of a high school mandatory read and it was nearly torture. The story moved too slow, I couldn't get into it, and I wasn't getting the point.

  • Chihoe Ho
    2019-05-29 12:59

    With a cover and a title like that, glowing recommendations from renown authors like David Mitchell and Alberto Manguel, and the comparison as "Iceland's Haruki Murakami/Robert Bolaño" from my colleague, it was hard to keep my hands off this book. I had no inkling as to what "The Whispering Muse" was about so it was a pleasant surprise as to how taken I was by the story and the words.When I say story, I meant a story within a story, where Vladimar Haraldsson is on board a Danish merchant ship and is entertained by second mate Caeneus with the adventures of his time aboard the Argo to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Yes, of famed Greek mythology Jason and the Argonauts. The contrast between these two narratives is so jarring it shouldn't work, yet they go against the grain and form quite the intriguing blend of past and somewhat present, fable and seemingly non-fiction, traditional and determinedly progressive.To go back and forth between ancient Greece to a mid-20th century Nordic setting, Sjón's writing style does the trick in presenting them on an even plane and bridging them together. This is where we see his talent as a poet and a lyricist (for Björk) on top of a novelist. Each word glides off the previous one making a string of them lyrical, while having an informative tone that adds weight to what is being written to build the atmosphere of the plot. Credit must also be given to Victoria Cribb for masterfully translating such an extraordinary piece of Icelandic literature.Even though I've only read a single Mitchell novel and not all of Murakami's works, I can see the similarities Sjón has with them - effortless prose in bringing to life the collision of reality and surrealism. It excites me to begin reading another novel of his.

  • Chris
    2019-05-28 12:01

    I am not surprise to learn that he wrote for Bjork. What doesn't Sjon cover in this slim little volume? Still thinking about it days after reading it. It's actually a wonderful novel. Thank you Richard.

  • Parrish Lantern
    2019-06-04 06:13

    Myth or Mythos, From the Ancient Greek μῦθος (muthos, “report”, “tale”, “story”)A story or set of stories relevant to or having a significant truth or meaning for a particular culture, religion, society, or other group.Anything delivered by word of mouth: a word, speech, conversation, or similar; a story, tale, or legend, especially a poetic tale.A tale, story, or narrative, usually verbally transmitted, or otherwise recorded into the written form from an alleged secondary source.The interrelationship of value structures and historical experiences of a people, usually given expression through the arts.The year is 1949, the year Iceland joined NATO, sparking off what is arguably Iceland’s most famous riot in March of this year. The riot was prompted by the decision of Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, to join the newly formed NATO, thereby involving Iceland directly in the Cold War, opposing the Soviet Union and re-militarizing the country. All this appears to have bypassed the hero of Sjon’s book The Whispering Muse, the self obsessed eccentric Valdimar Haraldsson, who has little regard for his fellow countrymen and whose thoughts are elsewhere because, also in March of this year, Haraldsson received a letter inviting him to join a Danish merchant ship on its way to the Black Sea. Haraldsson has been invited on this voyage because of his promotion of the idea that the predominantly fish diet of the Nordic race has led to their superiority, an idea he shared with the recently deceased son of the Danish shipping line owner, Haraldsson is a solitary man obsessed with this ideal and who has spent his life writing his journal Fisk og Kultur with aim of recording this perceived superiority.Every evening on board the ship, everyone gathers round the captains table and one member of the crew regales them with tales of his adventures and exploits as a member of the crew of the legendary Argo.This crewmember, claims to be Caeneus, who according to Greek mythology was originally a beautiful maiden named Caenis and was raped by Poseidon, who then promised to grant her anything she wished; she wished to become a man, so that nothing like this could ever happen to her again. Poseidon granted her wish, and in addition, made her/him invulnerable to all weapons. At the wedding of Pirithous, when fighting broke out between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, Caeneus slew many of the Centaurs but remained unharmed himself. The Centaurs tried in vain to kill him. Finally a mob of Centaurs began piling pine trees upon him, because they could not kill him, but Caeneus changed again and he flew away as a bird.We learn this & much more as each evening Caeneus enthralls his fellow travellers, starting every tale by removing a piece of wood, a splinter from the bow of the Argo and holding it to his ear appearing to listen to its whisperings, then the telling unfolds as Caeneus entwines both Greek and Scandinavian mythology into his own story. Each evening he holds the passengers in the palm of his hand as he unfolds the tale of Jason and his heroes, of himself.Mythos = anything delivered by word of mouth: a word, speech, conversation, or similar; a story, tale, or legend, especially a poetic tale, is an apt description of this fantastic (with all its meanings) yarn. Sjon’s fiction trawls the world of myth and fable, gaily highlighting the absurdity and surrealism inherent within the genres. He has the ability to astonish with his storytelling and yet the language is precise, appearing to be pared back to the marrow with nothing extraneous or out of place. This is the second book of Sjon’s I have read and I’m amazed how he can create a world that is, at the same point on the page, both totally believable and yet is also hallucinatory, grotesque, phantasmagorical and fabulous, this is a writer I want to know more about.

  • Bruce
    2019-05-26 13:47

    Sjón, the pen name of the Icelandic author Sigurjón Birgir Sigurosson, is only now being introduced to the English speaking world as his novels are beginning to be translated. I decided to read this work after reading a favorable review by the esteemed English author A.S. Byatt, whose work I have greatly enjoyed. This curious little novel is hard to pin down, almost impossible to categorize. Such may be Sjón’s intent. The tale begins in the first person, told by the pedantic and supercilious Valdimar Haraldsson, a sort of scholar with a pet theory to propound (that the Nordic races are superior to others because their diet is fish), who embarks on a journey on a unremarkable commercial ship with a mundane task. The crew, however, is peopled with unique and unusual characters, the most notable being the second mate Caeneus, a mariner who sailed with Jason and the Argonauts and who carries a piece of the Argo with him, using it as a muse for his endless story-telling. Much of the story involves the narrator’s impatience and condescension towards the other characters, but as the story becomes increasingly surreal and outlandish he himself is changed, returning home a far different man from the one who set out.Sjón has a lively imagination and has creatively interwoven realistic fiction with myth and magic. His prose is often poetic and engaging. However, there are many loose ends to the story, items and events almost gratuitously thrown in that never quite ultimately come together. But maybe asking that logic prevail in a narrative that is as much tone-poem as a coherent story is beside the point. There is no question that the novel is entertaining, easily read in an evening’s sitting. Whether it will haunt the reader or even last in the reader’s memory for very long is another question that only time will answer.

  • Julie Holmes
    2019-05-26 09:57

    Jason & the Argonauts meets Portnoy's Complaint meets the 100 year old man that fell out the window.....with the odd herring thrown in. Love a bit of Icelandic humour.

  • Antonia
    2019-06-05 11:59

    Неговата проза е нещо много различно от всичко, което съм чела. Сьоун наистина притежава безкомпромисен интелект, който успява да обвърже с чувството си за хумор и да представи този синхрон в романа си “The Whispering Muse” (Шепнещата Муза). Там читателят среща Валдимар Харалдсон, ексцентричен и леко надут застаряващ исландец, който се качва на борда на датски кораб в пътешествие до Черно море. Действието се развива през 1949 година, а героят на Сьоун е обсебен от теорията, че превъзходстсово на скандинавската раса, физическо и интeлектуално, се дължи до голяма степен на обилната консумация на риба. Противно на очакванията му обаче главният готвач на кораба не е включил в менюто на пътешествието риба. На борда оживяват митични същества и истории от гръцката и скандинавската митология, което превръща романа в магична приказка, на всичкото отгоре и забавна. Преплитането на античността с новото време в “Тhe Whspering Muse” създава една толкова ярка и добре описана картина, че на читателя е трудно да не повярва в достоверността на разказаната история. Романът на Сьоун е истинско предизвикателство към интелекта на читателя - не само заради преплитането на древни митове, но и почти неуловимите намеци на автора към настоящите геополитически особености на човешката раса. Още малко ето тук:

  • Hburke727
    2019-06-08 08:01

    The Whispering Muse is a delightful tale. Sjon weaves myth into common human experience and places the thread deftly into historical context. Not too high-minded, and just enough left unexplained. Read it if you'd like a humorous and inspiring story about divinity and humanity intertwined.

  • Cynthia
    2019-05-21 08:12

    MythI’ve read other reviews so I’m aware I was meant to love or at least like this book very much. I didn’t. I didn’t hate it but it didn’t spark my interest as much as it did others’. Perhaps if I was more familiar with Greek mythology I would have had more of a framework for enjoying it. There was a sly humor in it that I liked and the main character, though unlikable, was an intriguing narrator. He was no one’s fool and was not going to be taken in by the tall tales that were told onboard ship even though the rest of the crew hung on every word. It does end with a twist that I liked. This review is based on an advance readers copy supplied by the publisher.(Disclaimer given per FTC requirement.) Goodreads friends if you happen to see my reviews on Amazon please do NOT vote on them.

  • Antonomasia
    2019-06-11 09:47

    Dec 2013.[3.5] Once again, I'm underwhelmed by Sjón . Is it partly the translator, Victoria Cribb? Aside from Sjón's The Blue Fox, the only other translation of hers I've read was Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason; the style there was perfectly serviceable for a police procedural, and here she rarely conveys much sense of this as a novel by a poet. (The narrator is, though, a pedant and Nazi sympathiser aged 80ish in 1949, not really given to flights of ethereal fancy.) The effusive blurbers and reviewers for Sjón's English editions – among them A.S. Byatt and David Mitchell – seem to have been reading a different author; I just don't find his work that amazingly special. Björk I'll give the benefit of the doubt because she reads him in their native language, and, well, she's Björk.Still, one of the great things about translations is that they don't have the wearingly predictable tics of Eng-lang litfic. (A few years ago I got so sick of them I decided only to bother with contemporary fiction if it was translated. Which as can be seen from my more recent reading, didn't quite stick.) Our narrator, Valdemar Haraldsson, is a little more subtly done that he might be in British or US fiction. Not much is directly made of his views, which may not have been terribly unusual among middle-class Nordic men of his age and time - albeit most of them didn't used to publish a journal* on fish consumption as a cause of Nordic cultural superiority, or work in Germany during the war. Here he is simply presented as a buffoon who is rather judgemental of, and irritating to, most people around him. (Which for me works rather well, a needed reminder of times before the last few months of Goodreads-overuse, when I was usually more inclined to roll my eyes at the extreme marginal views rather than waste energy getting angry. It's also a presentation and response that comes from lives where liberal views have always been a comfortable norm, feeling safely able to dismss such opinions as irrelevant.) Haraldsson is mocked by his creator without being dehumanised, and the story eventually unlocks a somewhat more relaxed side to his character without being a cheesy tale of redemption. It happens because he takes a trip aboard a well-appointed Danish merchant ship, a gift from the father of a deceased friend of his. (Is the father very ancient, the friend much younger than the narrator, or is the chronology a mess? It's rarely relevant for most of the book at least.) Here, the original title, which translates as “A Splinter from the Argo” comes into play. One crew-member, Caeneus, regales his shipmates with tales from his days voyaging with Jason and the Argonauts, and an extra story-within-a-story-within-a-story as a Greek poetess tells the legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. I was interested to read some of these myths, especially Caeneus/Caenis (an inspiration for Orlando?) which I hadn't heard before. However, as far as adaptations of mythology into new fiction go, The Whispering Muse isn't terribly imaginative – shown up all the more because the last book I read was by Neil Gaiman. I'm not overly fond of most “books about books”, or books about writers, or the power of storytelling – the last is what this is. In a way I understand them, but there's a point where the theme becomes too precious for my liking. Noticing the times I've read most during my life, and what I've read when, I seem to use books more as a subsitute for, or gateway into, interesting real life, rather than something preferable to it regardless of circumstance as many truly “bookish” people do. A heretic and traitor in the midst. (Aged 17 and deciding on university courses, my own idea was one I would later read from the disapproving mother in Atonement: that it wasn't necessary to do a degree to read and analyse all those novels, I could do that anyway, better to study something real. Or once-real.)I pushed through my native philistinism to try and understand The Whispering Muse as something to do with its own culture because that would make the book – which I sometimes struggled to see the point of - mean more. In winter, the re-reading and oral recounting of the Sagas is still a notable part of Icelandic culture: Caenus' storytelling in the book, to a group of adults, reflects that. Having made sense of that part of the structure, seeing that it will resonate more if you've had the experience of listening to ancient stories that way, I still haven't worked out why the the myth of the Argonauts on Lemnos was chosen for the major part of of Caenus' story. The past of the purser's lady friend (as the narrator always calls her) ties into it mythologically, yet I haven't quite got a sense of its wider significance in the rest of the story.The Whispering Muse was a nominee for the 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation award; that's not a prize I know much about, but I can't help wondering if they were short of suitable novels this year. Here, as well as some pretty straight re-tellings of Greek and north European myths, there's a mostly-realist narrative frame with oddments of magic realism and literary slipstream. It's not a book it would have occurred to me to recommend to friends who are fans of sci-fi and fantasy and in their context I can't help thinking of it as SFF for people who don't read much SFF. (I may be wrong though … Sjón is also compared to Borges and Calvino; I've never had any urge to read Borges and couldn't take to Calvino when I tried.)If I haven't put you off Sjón, you may like to know that his three novels- or two novellas and one novel - are in the UK Kindle Christmas sale for 99p each. * Jul 2015: realised that Valdemar's journal, Fisk og Kultur, might be a mischievous allusion to Swedish publisher Natur och Kultur

  • Wiebke (1book1review)
    2019-06-15 10:08

    I'm not sure where this wanted to go, and didn't like where it went.Admittedly, I don't really care for this type of narrator, his characteristcs.

  • Danny
    2019-05-20 07:00

    Without a doubt, Sjon’s The Whispering Muse is the oddest, little book I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s protagonist, Valdimar Haraldsson is a puffed-up, self-absorbed intellectual who has written a 17 volume set on the correlation between Nordic superiority and Nordic fish consumption. He is a man who cares only about eating fish, talking about fish, and foisting his theories on those around him. He’s strange, he’s cocky, he’s pathetic, and he’s funny. He gets invited to spend time on a Danish merchant vessel, touring Norwegian waters. Once on ship he gets distressed due to the lack of fish on the dinner the menu. Such is the life of a man who once wrote a book called Memoirs of a Herring Inspector. At night, one of the mates regales the guests with stories of his involvement in the Jason and the Argonauts saga. It turns out the mate is none other than Caeneus, he who sought the Golden Fleece with the mythical Jason. Keep in mind, the book is set in the 1940s. It’s not quite magical realism, but the book seamlessly weaves myth and modern sensibilities. It’s all a little bonkers. Quite often I found myself wondering, “why?”. The Whispering Muse clocks in at a compact 130 pages, there’s not much of an arc to the story, but the writing is good, the characters keep you guessing, and it’s strangely compelling.

  • Kitty
    2019-05-30 07:45

    I had high expectations with the opening chapter, introducing a highly eccentric protagonist, Valdimar Haraldsson, whose chief preooccupation is the link between fish consumption and the superiority of the Nordic race. Sjon weaves in details from "Argonautica" by Apollonius of Rhodes, "Medea" by Euripides, "Metamorphoses" by Ovid as well as Nordic sources, through the voice of the second mate Caeneus, (disguised mythical hero) who "before embarking on his tales had the habit of drawing a rotten chip of wood from his pocket held his right ear like a telephone receiver."Perhaps I have too much to read these days, that I soon felt disenchanted by the potential bottomless supply of tales, and rather "out to sea" eager to land on the last page. The conception of the book is good. I had a sense there was quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor, and which perhaps might be stronger in Icelandic,with a more compelling effect.

  • Soňa
    2019-06-16 08:13

    Tak túto knižku možno právom označiť za veľmi veľmi zvláštnu. Pre mňa určite áno.Osobne ju akosi prirodzene delím na 2 vedľa seba plynúce deje, cesta hlavného rozprávača Valdimara a rozprávanie Kaineusa počas výletu. Kým prvý príbeh bol pre mňa miestami otravný, či už zamysleniami o nadradenosti severanov vďaka konzumácii rýb či zdĺhavymi opismi, druhý plynul ako jarný vánok opierajúci sa do plachiet lide Argó.A to najlepšie bol vlastne doslova autora o myšlienkovom pochode, ktorý je za celým dielom. Veľkým plusom je aj obálka tejto tenučkej knižočky, vďaka čomu sa strhol aj menší boj o to. kto ju skôr ukoristí z knižnice

  • Drew
    2019-06-02 14:08

    There was more cohesion to this novel as, well, a novel than I experienced with From the Mouth of the Whale and as such it enabled me to enjoy Sjón's writing so much more. He has a gift with phrases that seem to spin out like gossamer thread, glinting in the light - and he creates a vivid picture, even without too many adjectives or bluntly descriptive phrases, of a world in the North. He's the kind of writer who, at his best, can (like Caeneus, perhaps) make a reader (or listener) believe in the myth or the grand story over whatever's occurring in their present. What greater gift could there be? More at RB:

  • Laurie
    2019-06-13 14:08

    I'm not quite sure what to make of this work. A post WW-II merchant ship voyage intertwines with the voyage of the Argo and the myth of Sigurd through both a story teller and a narrator who may not be what they seem. At times it was difficult to put up with the fussy, unstable narrator yet the ending rewarded my efforts. Through myth, we can find our lives rejuvenated and meaningful once again.

  • Michael Sanderson-green
    2019-06-16 13:58

    It's official Sjon is now my new favourite author. Each page of this book is a complete surprise in which one has no idea where the story is going you just have to relax and let him take you on a wonderful journey skipping from Creek mythology to magical reality to travelogue. I will now sit and contemplate the meanings of the story.

  • Kyle Muntz
    2019-06-19 09:46

    An incredibly interesting combination of elements, and sometimes incredibly hilarious, though I never got the impression this book added up to much, with leaden prose and characters who felt sort of like disembodied mustaches in suits. Still curious for Sjon's other books, but despite some good moments this one just didn't do much for me.

  • Ademption
    2019-06-17 07:52

    2.4 stars rounded down. Sjón, I think we're done here. The Blue Fox is a better novel, but not by much. Meh.

  • Tara
    2019-06-18 13:49

    I deeply enjoyed this book, but I'm at a loss for reviewing it fully. However, I will offer one piece of advice: don't lose track of the storyteller, or the storyteller's storyteller, or the history of the storyteller's storyteller. Don't lose track of time.

  • Hlöðver Sigurðsson
    2019-06-09 11:06

    Very very Bad and very boring. As an Icelander, don't rate our literature according to this book.

  • Kika
    2019-06-04 13:14

    Sjóna mám rada, je to úžasný spisovateľ a milujem jeho knihu Máni Steinn. Múza nie je až taká dobrá, ale dá sa. No občas som sa nudila. Takže skôr taký priemer, ale tento autor to vie aj lepšie :)

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-29 08:08

    In preparation for my trip to Iceland, I picked up this book by Icelandic author Sjon. And discovered, oops!, it isn’t actually set in Iceland but on a Scandinavian cargo boat, and the plot revolves around Greek mythology. Oh well, it was different from most English language fiction and interesting, though not amazing. It is basically a “story within a story within a story” tale. A cranky, eccentric Icelander is traveling on a 1940s-era cargo ship; each night, the crew listens to tales of the second mate, Caeneus, who tells of his time on the Argo with Jason. Sometimes, characters in Caeneus’ story tell Norwegian folk tales. There is a bit of humor in the narrator, who is eccentric and often misses the point of those around him and the tales. And I guess the point of the story has something to do with the universality of myths? But it all felt very slight to me and I was expecting a bigger pay off at the end. So, not terribly but not great.

  • Daphne
    2019-05-24 06:03

    #readathon17 Ένα βιβλίο που βασίζεται σε κάποιο παραμύθι ή μύθοDelightfully quirky, I enjoyed it!