The latest addition to my humble book collection arrived in the post yesterday morning … just in time for Christmas.
Internationally acclaimed author Nancy Marie Brown suggested that I should add Alan Boucher’s The Land Seekers to my list of books on Auðr/Unnr djúp(a)uðga. The book was published for the very first time in 1964 in the Time, Place & Action series of publisher André Deutsch. Alan Boucher (1918-1996) wrote a great number of children’s books, of which five are set in the Viking Age. Before writing fiction for children, he specialized in Icelandic studies at Trinity College in Cambridge (UK) and won a two-year award for Northern Research. He was a frequent visitor to Iceland before he settled there permanently with his Icelandic wife Áslaug Þórarinsdóttir.
From 1967 to 1970 he was a lecturer at the English Department of the University of Iceland. After that he worked for two years as an assistant professor before being appointed as professor. He was Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Iceland from 1979 to 1981.
Before he taught English at the University of Iceland, Alan Boucher wrote The Land Seekers loosely based on the opening chapters of Laxdæla saga. The story opens with two friends, Jarp and Olaf, who live in Caithness. The first is wearing a thrall-ring as a sign that he is servant slave, whereas the other is the grandson of the great matriarch Aud, who ‘is a believer in the White-Christ’ (Boucher 1964:19). In spite of their difference in status, Jarp and Olaf live side by side as friends and follow in Aud’s train when she leaves Scotland for Iceland. Her ship, called the Foam-Farer in the tale, brings them from a battle with Vikings to the safe shores of Iceland. After a while, Aud sets out to find land of her own and settles in the Hollow. When Aud knows she is about to pass away, she gives Jarp his freedom and a great inheritance to her grandson Olaf.
The story is illustrated by Hilary Abrahams (b. 1931). Besides the map facing the title-page, the story is illuminated with sixteen drawings. Of these drawings three depict Auðr as shown in the pictures below.
In 1977 the story was translated into Icelandic by Gylfi Pálsson (b. 1933), entitled Í Landaleit (‘In search of land’), with illustrations by Hilmar Þ. Helgason (b. 1947).
The Land Seekers is an interesting take on an old tale and an excellent read for a relaxing Christmas.
And have yourself a bookish little Christmas now …