In exploring how Icelanders interact with nature--and their idea that elves live among us--Nancy Marie Brown shows us how altering our perceptions of the environment can be a crucial first step toward saving it.
Icelanders believe in elves.
Why does that make you laugh?, asks Nancy Marie Brown, in this wonderfully quirky exploration of our interaction with nature. Looking for answers in history, science, religion, and art--from ancient times to today--Brown finds that each discipline defines what is real and unreal, natural and supernatural, demonstrated and theoretical, alive and inert. Each has its own way of perceiving and valuing the world around us. And each discipline defines what an Icelander might call an elf.
Illuminated by her own encounters with Iceland's Otherworld--in ancient lava fields, on a holy mountain, beside a glacier or an erupting volcano, crossing the cold desert at the island's heart on horseback-- Looking for the Hidden Folk offers an intimate conversation about how we look at and find value in nature. It reveals how the words we use and the stories we tell shape the world we see. It argues that our beliefs about the Earth will preserve--or destroy it.
Scientists name our time the Anthropocene: the Human Age. Climate change will lead to the mass extinction of numerous animal species unless we humans change our course. Iceland suggests a different way of thinking about the Earth, one that offers hope. Icelanders believe in elves-- and you should, too.
Nancy Marie Brown is the author of several highly praised cultural histories, including The Real Valkyrie, Song of the Vikings, and Ivory Vikings. These titles have been favorably reviewed in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Economist, the Times Literary Supplement, the Wall Street Journal, and many other journals. Brown has spent decades studying Icelandic literature and culture. She lives on a farm in Vermont where she keeps four Icelandic horses and an Icelandic sheepdog.
*A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE*
"An impassioned, informative love letter to Iceland." —New York Times Book Review
"This compelling and highly readable book offers a thought-provoking examination of nature of belief itself" —Bookpage, starred review
In exploring how Icelanders interact with nature—and their id
In the tradition of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, Brown lays to rest the hoary myth that Viking society was ruled by men and celebrates the dramatic lives of female Viking warriors
Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them (Paperback)
“A fascinating tale of discovery and mystery.” —The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Five hundred years before Columbus, a Viking woman named Gudrid sailed off the edge of the known world. She landed in the New World and lived there for three years, giving birth to a baby before sailing home. Or so the Icelandic sagas say. Even after archaeologists found a Viking longhouse in Newfoundland, no one believed that the details of Gudrid’s story were true.
An Indie Next pick for December 2012, Song of the Vikings brings to life Snorri Sturluson, wealthy chieftain, wily politician, witty storyteller, and the sole source of Viking lore for all of Western literature.