Halldor Laxness and the Latter-day Saints: The Story behind the Novel Paradisarheimt

On the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Halldor Laxness’s Mormon-themed novel Paradisarheimt (Paradise Reclaimed), BYU professor Fred E. Woods tells the story of how the Nobel-prize winning author became interested in the topic of Mormon Icelandic immigration to Utah. Woods shares correspondence between Laxness and Latter-day Saints, thus portraying the friendships that developed as Laxness visited Utah for book research and continued to write to his friends for more information. Woods compares stories of real Icelandic Mormon immigrants with the fictional characters in Laxness’s novel. At the time of the book’s publication, some Mormon readers felt that Laxness’s depiction of their faith was inaccurate, but Laxness claimed that he used poetic license and never intended to be seen as antagonistic toward Mormons. Woods concludes that Laxness admired the Latter-day Saint sense of community and felt a deep respect for his Mormon friends throughout his life.

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