dr. Sigurður
Gylfi
Magnússon

Brothers from the Stranda Commune. Diaries, Love Letters, Private Letters, Autobiography, Notebooks and Handwritten Material from the 19th Century.

Anthology from Icelandic Popular Culture. Published by the Icelandic University Press, 1997. 323 pages. - (Bræður frá Ströndum: Dagbækur, ástarbréf, almenn bréf, sjálfsævisaga, minnisbækur og samtíningur frá 19. öld. Sýnisbók íslenskrar alþýðumenningar (Reykjavík: Háskólaútgáfan, 1997)).

Brothers from the Strandir Commune (Bræður af Ströndum) is a source book containing specimens of texts written by a pair of brothers, Halldór and Níels Jónsson, together with letters by a third brother, Ísleifur, and letters by Halldór's widow, Elín Samúelsdóttir. Halldór and Níels lived their entire lives in Strandasýsla in the extreme northwest of Iceland. Born into rural poverty in the second half of the 19th century, by dint of enormous effort and determination they eventually succeeded in raising themselves into the class of independent tenant farmers. The two brothers left a large amount of written material of various types which provides an extraordinarily intimate insight into the lives of ordinary people of a former time. Perhaps the most remarkable of these documents are the brothers' diaries, Níels's love letters, and a letter written by Elín Samúelsdóttir to Níels in 1914, with an account of the death of her son, Samúel Halldórsson, and describing the calamitous conditions in the household in the face of an attack of diphtheria. Halldór's autobiography is masterfully written and there is much of considerable interest in the wide-ranging miscellany of material he collected during the course of his life.

The book is aimed at a general readership interested in the history and culture of a past age, as well as professional historians who may potentially find benefit from sources such as these in their research. Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon, who compiled the material and wrote the introduction, used the same sources in another book published earlier this year by the University of Iceland Press and the Historical Institute of the University of Iceland under the title Menntun, ást og sorg (Education, love and grief). This book seeks to employ these sources in an analysis of a mental world of people of the 19th century, specifically the ideas of young people from the rural working class in Iceland who stood at the watershed between the old world and the new. In Bræður af Ströndum (Brothers from Strandir) these sources are allowed to speak for themselves, directly and without editorial interpretation, giving the reader a fascinating intimacy with the texts and the lives of the people who created them and who they tell about.

SUMMARIES:
Academic liturgy
From Re-evaluation to Disintegration
History War
Metastories
Dreams of Things Past
Education, Love and Grief
Pieces and Molds
The Sound of Divine Revelation
Microhistory - Conflicting Paths
Brothers from the Stranda Commune
Modes of Living in Reykjavik, 1930-1940
Away. Faraway! - And to Another Continent
The Contours of Social History
Method facing a Dilemma
"I am 479 Days Younger than Nilli."...
Modern fairy tales...
Dissertation: The Continuity of Everyday Life
LINKS:
microhistory.org
The Reykjavík Academy
Íslensk heimasíða
© 2006 - Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon