From the Mouth of the Whale

by Sjon | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1846590833 Global Overview for this book
Registered by stephjb of Torquay, Devon United Kingdom on 5/22/2016
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by stephjb from Torquay, Devon United Kingdom on Sunday, May 22, 2016
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Journal Entry 2 by stephjb at Totnes , Devon United Kingdom on Sunday, May 22, 2016
In From The Mouth Of The Whale Sjon blends fact with fiction to produce a bewildering portrait of 1600s Iceland. Genuine historical figure Jon Gudmundsson the Learned really did exist, did marry as astronomer wife and did witness the massacre of Basque whalers. Here he is imagined as Jonas Palmasson, a boy prodigy who becomes a learned man and is ostracised by his community. Outlawed and isolated on a tiny island off Iceland's coast, he must survive as best he can without any help and bereft of his library, but eventually with the company of his wife.

We see the story through Jonas' eyes and it is difficult to tell what is truth, what would have been seen as truth four centuries ago, and what is delusion within Jonas' mind. I was fascinated by scenes such as the devout Catholic village unearthing their banned idols in order to worship them and the text is dotted with short textbook extracts describing the bizarre properties believed of plants and animals. Jumping around in place and time, I was able to piece together Jonas' memories to make sense of his life and the politics of his time. Having visited Iceland, I was easily able to imagine locations such as Thingvallir parliament, but I would have liked more detail in some of the descriptive passages. From The Mouth Of The Whale cleverly brings historic Iceland to life and I would be interested to read more of Sjon's work.

Journal Entry 3 by stephjb at Lemonford campsite in Bickington, Devon United Kingdom on Sunday, May 22, 2016

Released 4 yrs ago (5/22/2016 UTC) at Lemonford campsite in Bickington, Devon United Kingdom

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