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Excerpt and Discussion of “The Fish Can Sing” by Halldór Laxness

From Audio: The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness

Duration: 03:45
John Mitchison brings life to the old Icelandic book, “The Fish Can Sing” by Halldór Laxness. Cozy up and listen in to John reading a beautiful excerpt from the book and reflect on it afterwards.
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John Mitchison brings life to the old Icelandic book, “The Fish Can Sing” by Halldór Laxness. Cozy up and listen in to John reading a beautiful excerpt from the book and reflect on it afterwards.
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But this is so beautiful. Listen to this. People kept on asking me did he sing? Well, I reply, The world is a song, but we do not know whether it is a good song because we have nothing to compare it with. Some people think that the art of seeing has its origins in the wearing of the solar system as the planet's hurtle through space. Others say it comes from the sound of the wind in that ash tree called eggs brazil. In the words of the old poem, the ancient tree size, perhaps Garda home was closer to that unfathomable ocean of unborn song than most other singers have been. I shall not compare God home singing with that of other people who may have sung entirely as palaces all over the world. In the teatro colon chris knocked ST peter's cathedral. Or was it perhaps ST Petersburg or before, Mohamed Ben ali. But no one has ever heard the like of the singing I listened to in that least known of all cathedrals. And I do not believe that anyone would ever have been the same after hearing it. And indeed the ears for which it were intended were deaf has so beautiful and and such a beautiful description of how purity of artistic intention can still be misunderstood by an audience if they aren't able to relate to it. It's incredible. There's a lovely thing he says earlier in the book, right near the beginning when he's talking about the people who go to stay at record. And he's saying that they were all kind of quite good storytellers. And I thought this was, you know, you're talking about that the different kinds of authenticity and he kind of slightly reveals his hand here. I think vaccines. He says, what story can it have been? The stories were innumerable, but most of them had this in common that the method of telling them was diametrically opposed to the method we associated with danish novels. The storyteller's own life never came into the story, let alone his opinions. The subject matter was allowed to speak for itself. They never hurried the story. These men, whenever they came to anything that the audience found desperately exciting, they would often start reciting genealogies at great length and then they would launch into some digression also in great detail. The story itself had a life of its own cool and remote, an independent of the telling free of all odor of man, rather like nature itself, where the elements alone reign over everything. What was one little shriveled person in some fortuitous lodging compared with the wide world of the heroic age, the world of epic, with its great events that happened once and for all time. And it's just I love that it's this idea that you're kind of plugging into this collective unconscious of storytelling that's out there and you you are an important what's important is that is that these stories are sort of go on forever. But also the form of the novel takes on the form of the thing you've just described, john it's like you're being told a series of mini Saugus drawing on the oral tradition round the campfire in the turf hut rather than a methodical structured novel. Although it is a methodical, structured novel, it just seems like it's doing something else. It goes back to what Derek was said at the very beginning, you're picking up in Dean's Gate. It's like you feel strangely cradled, don't you? It's like here's somebody who really understands how to tell a story. I'm not sure I wanted to know about lump fish and now I don't want to leave, I want more, I want more of this stuff. I want more lump fish stories, please. This is it
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