What lurks behind the cover of ‘Audssoga’ …

Audssoga om “Aud den Djuptenkte.” En historisk roman av Anders Syltevik it read in gold letters on the dark red book binding. Despite the plain cover, the book would certainly prove to be an interesting read to me.

IMG_9100 kopie

When I visited my Icelandic friend Vilborg, the author of Auður and Vígroði and a fellow enthusiast of all things on Auður the Deep-Minded, during a stay in Iceland in the Winter of 2013, we talked mainly of books while sipping some freshly brewed cappuccino and munching on Belgian chocolate. After signing and writing a little personal note in my copies of her novels on Auður the Deep-Minded, Auður and Vígroði, she walked me over to her bookcase and took out a small plain-looking volume, which she put in my hands.

IMG_9100From the bookcover not even an experienced eye could tell the tragic story that hides beneath it. Indeed it was a self-published novel by the parents of Anders Syltevik, a Norwegian taxi-driver, who was attacked in his taxi one dark Winter-night in 2009. In his spare time, Anders had been writing down some notes on Auður the Deep-Minded on his computer. When he succumbed to his injuries shortly after the attack, he had left a semi-finished text on his PC. When clearing out Anders’s stuff, his father, a retired schoolteacher, found the story of Auður the Deep-Minded’s return to Norway on his son’s computer. He and his wife decided to have this unfinished text published as a way to commemorate their son Anders, who had been so brutally taken from them.

As the book was self-published and not for sale in bookshops finding a copy proved to be hard. Fortunately, a common friend of Vilborg and I, the Norwegian playwright Tone was acquainted with the taxi-driver’s parents and asked them for a copy of their son’s book for me. A couple of weeks later, I received a tiny brown package in the post containing beside a colourful postcard from Tone a copy of Anders’s book.

The book is bound wrong, the pages run upside down, the shiny paper and cover don’t look promising, the story doesn’t run smoothly … . And yet, the story told in the book by Anders is compelling nonetheless as it is based on the idea that Auður the Deep-Minded, who came from the region of Aurland in Norway, returned there in her final years. Anders’take on Auður’s story was not new, but partly based on and inspired by a Norse theory that Auður and her family originally came from Aurland and resided on a farm know as Kvam. This idea has been discussed in some length by Olav J. Ellingsen and published on his website Aurland Sogelag. Olav draws a parallel between the Norwegian farm Kvam, which according to him belonged to Auður’s grandfather Björn Buna, and Auður’s own Icelandic abode Hvammur (the cluster hv- is pronounced as kv- here). However, Olav doesn’t claim like Anders that Auður returned to her motherland Norway. Yet, both Anders’ take on Auður’s tale and Olav’s theory on the family farm in Norway being called Kvam are interesting and alternate versions of Auður’s legend.    

Anders Syltevik’s parents wanted to pay tribute to their beloved son by publishing his book. Audssoga om “Aud den Djuptenkte” (‘The saga of Auður about Auður the Deep-Minded’) is a captivating take on the legend of Auður the Deep-Minded and certainly worth a read for anyone who is interested in Auður the Deep-Minded.

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