Category Archive 'Iceland'

06 Dec 2017

Lost Icelandic Translation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”

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Smithsonian reports that the Icelandic translation of Dracula amounts to a different book, possibly better and more sexy.

The Icelandic version of Dracula is called Powers of Darkness, and it’s actually a different—some say better—version of the classic Bram Stoker tale.

Makt Myrkranna (the book’s name in Icelandic) was “translated” from the English only a few years after Dracula was published on May 26, 1897, skyrocketing to almost-instant fame. Next Friday is still celebrated as World Dracula Day by fans of the book, which has been continuously in print since its first publication, according to Dutch author and historian Hans Corneel de Roos for Lithub. …

The book’s Icelandic text was unknown to English-speaking aficionados of the Dark Prince until recently, de Roos writes, as no one had bothered to re-translate it back into English. Although Dracula scholars knew about the existence of Powers of Darkness as far back as 1986, they didn’t know it was actually a different story. Then, he writes, “literary researcher Richard Dalby reported on the 1901 Icelandic edition and on its preface, apparently written specifically for it by Stoker himself.”

The preface was what got English-language scholars interested in the Icelandic book, but still, nobody thought to compare the actual text of Makt Myrkranna to the original Stoker novel, assuming, as Dalby wrote, that it was “merely an abridged translation of Dracula,” de Roos writes. Finally in 2014, de Roos writes that he went back to the original text of Powers of Darkness to verify something, and discovered that the Icelandic story diverged from the English original.

As de Roos worked on the translation, patterns emerged: many of the characters had different names, the text was shorter and had a different structure, and it was markedly sexier than the English version, he writes. It’s also, he writes, better: “Although Dracula received positive reviews in most newspapers of the day…the original novel can be tedious and meandering….Powers of Darkness, by contrast, is written in a concise, punchy style; each scene adds to the progress of the plot.”

“The nature of the changes has led de Roos to argue that they could not have been the work of Valdimar alone,” according to Iceland Magazine. “Instead he has speculated that Valdimar and Stoker must have collaborated in some way. Stoker could, for example, have sent Valdimar an older version of his story.”

RTWT

10 Aug 2016

Eric Clapton, Salmon Fisherman

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ClaptonSalmon

Facebook:

Guitarist Eric Clapton (who knew?) is evidently a salmon fisherman, and caught this year the biggest fish, 28 lbs. (12.7 kilo.) 42.5″ (108 cm.), taken in Iceland’s Vatnsdalsá River on August 5th.

“Clapton had to run a good kilometre down river with the salmon before he was finally able to draw it ashore, the salmon was hooked and after an exciting hunt came ashore just over an half hour later.”

Comments indicate that Clapton is partial to Marc Aroner’s fly rods.

Nice fish, even if it has been in the river quite a while and is getting very close to “wearing the Brodie tartan.” Look at the kype on him! If I were Clapton, I’d smoke this one.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

08 Jul 2015

Studying Viking DNA

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VikingDNA

Adam Piore, in Nautilus, tells the fascinating story of Decode, the company founded in 1996 to collect and study Icelandic DNA, using the genetics of that island nations’s small and closely-related population to find genetic links to common diseases.

In the ninth century there was a Norwegian Viking named Kveldulf, so big and strong that no man could defeat him. He sailed the seas in a long-ship and raided and plundered towns and homesteads of distant lands for many years. He settled down to farm, a very wealthy man.

Kveldulf had two sons who grew up to become mighty warriors. One joined the service of King Harald Tangle Hair. But in time the King grew fearful of the son’s growing power and had him murdered. Kveldulf vowed revenge. With his surviving son and allies, Kveldulf caught up with the killers, and wielding a double-bladed ax, slew 50 men. He sent the paltriest survivors back to the king to recount his deed and fled toward the newly settled realm of Iceland. Kveldulf died on the journey. But his remaining son Skallagrim landed on Iceland’s west coast, prospered, and had children.

Skallagrim’s children had children. Those children had children. And the blood and genes of Kveldulf the Viking and Skallagrim his son were passed down the ages. Then, in 1949, in the capital of Reykjavik, a descendent named Kari Stefansson was born.

Like Kveldulf, Stefansson would grow to be a giant, 6’5”, with piercing eyes and a beard. As a young man, he set out for the distant lands of the universities of Chicago and Harvard in search of intellectual bounty. But at the dawn of modern genetics in the 1990s, Stefansson, a neurologist, was lured back to his homeland by an unlikely enticement—the very genes that he and his 300,000-plus countrymen had inherited from Kveldulf and the tiny band of settlers who gave birth to Iceland.

Stefansson had a bold vision. He would create a library of DNA from every single living descendent of his nation’s early inhabitants. This library, coupled with Iceland’s rich trove of genealogical data and meticulous medical records, would constitute an unparalleled resource that could reveal the causes—and point to cures—for human diseases.

Read the whole thing.

12 Feb 2015

Icelandic Beer Made From Smoked Whale Testicles

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IcelandBeer

Draft Magazine interviews Dagbjartur Arilíusson, owner of the Steðji microbrewery in Iceland.

You … brew beer made from fin whale testicles…

We started last year with our first whale beer, Hvalur 1. The health department didn’t want us to produce it at first, but we were allowed to. The beer used whale meal as an ingredient, and it was something new for Iceland. It sold out almost immediately. This year, for Hvalur 2, we wanted to keep the concept, but use a different whale ingredient. We decided to use fin whale [Balaenoptera physalus -JDZ] testicles.

How, exactly, do you brew with whale testicles?
We get the testicles frozen from the whaling company, and we have a licensed butcher chop it up for us to use. The testicles are cured according to an old Icelandic tradition. The testicles are salted, and then smoked with sheep dung. A whole testicle is used in every brewing cycle, and then the beer is filtered and pasteurized. We put a lot of effort into this, and it’s a long process.

What’s the beer’s connection to Iceland’s annual food festival, Thorrablot?
We wanted to create a true Thorrablot atmosphere that celebrates traditional Icelandic food. Every winter, Icelanders gather to eat traditional food that sustained our ancestors for generations. This is very popular here in the countryside, and we wanted the beer to be released at the same time of the festival. The dishes we eat include boiled sheep heads, liver sausage, ram testicles, fermented shark, wind-dried fish, smoked lamb meat, and blood pudding. We thought that Hvalur 2 would fit in well with Thorrablot by using an ingredient that is a little different.

Does the criticism from whale conservationists bother you?
It actually brings more attention to the beer, which is a positive thing. Most of the protests come from people outside of Iceland. People have to remember that the fin whale is not endangered in the North Atlantic, and Iceland is known for sustainable fishing and setting quotas for our whale hunt. There’s actually a lot of demand for our beer to be exported, but there are laws that limit which countries can import it because of anti-whaling laws. The beer will sell out in Iceland, and people from other countries want a taste.

Whole thing.

20 Oct 2014

Icelandic Panel Confirms Authenticity of 2012 Lake Monster Video

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Lagarfljot

A 13-member truth committee appointed by the municipality of Fljótsdalsherad, Iceland recently voted seven to six that a video (see below) taken by Hjortur Kjerulf at a river near his farm in February of 2012 was a real image of the Lagarfljótsormur, an Icelandic equivalent of Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster first described in the Icelandic Annals of 1345.

As the result of the vote, Hjortur Kjerulf received a 500,000 Icelandic kroner (equivalent to $4163.20 at today’s exchange rate) prize established in 1997 as a reward for any real film or image of the wyrm.

The good faith of the panel’s decision was questioned by people contending that their decision was influenced by prospects of profits from cryptid tourism, and Finnish skeptic Miisa McKeown dismissed the video, contending that it was really an image of a stationary ice-covered fishing net undulating in the current.

12 Sep 2013

Nordic Cuisine

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

29 Nov 2011

Scientists Find Probable Amerindian DNA in Iceland

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The discovery of a new mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) subclade (C1e) in Iceland of Haplogroup C, characteristic of population groups found in Northeast Asia and of Amerindians is identified in a new paper in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology as likely evidence of the presence in Iceland of matrilineal descent from American Indians encountered by Viking explorers of North America around the year 1000 A.D.

Abstract

Although most mtDNA lineages observed in contemporary Icelanders can be traced to neighboring populations in the British Isles and Scandinavia, one may have a more distant origin. This lineage belongs to haplogroup C1, one of a handful that was involved in the settlement of the Americas around 14,000 years ago. Contrary to an initial assumption that this lineage was a recent arrival, preliminary genealogical analyses revealed that the C1 lineage was present in the Icelandic mtDNA pool at least 300 years ago. This raised the intriguing possibility that the Icelandic C1 lineage could be traced to Viking voyages to the Americas that commenced in the 10th century. In an attempt to shed further light on the entry date of the C1 lineage into the Icelandic mtDNA pool and its geographical origin, we used the deCODE Genetics genealogical database to identify additional matrilineal ancestors that carry the C1 lineage and then sequenced the complete mtDNA genome of 11 contemporary C1 carriers from four different matrilines. Our results indicate a latest possible arrival date in Iceland of just prior to 1700 and a likely arrival date centuries earlier. Most surprisingly, we demonstrate that the Icelandic C1 lineage does not belong to any of the four known Native American (C1b, C1c, and C1d) or Asian (C1a) subclades of haplogroup C1. Rather, it is presently the only known member of a new subclade, C1e. While a Native American origin seems most likely for C1e, an Asian or European origin cannot be ruled out.


Discovery.com

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

20 Apr 2010

Thunder and Lightning and Volcano

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“Thunders and lightnings strike in the dark moody ash cloud over erupting Eyjafjallajökull,” writes photographer Skarphéðinn Þráinsson. (click on image for larger view)

16 Apr 2010

Flights to Europe Cancelled

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Volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull in Southern Iceland blows toward the continent.

UK authorities say no flights over English airspace until Saturday; 17,000 flights over Europe canceled Friday.

NASA images

New York Times

30 Apr 2006

A Gustatory Tour of Iceland

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Wolfram Siebeck visits the infrequent tourist destination of Iceland, and experiments with the local cuisine.

Part 1 -arrival at Reykjavik.

Part 2 – whale steak, cod tongue, ‘black bird,” sheep’s head.

Maybe he should have stuck to Paris.


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