From Iceland — In the footsteps of fictional characters

In the footsteps of fictional characters

Published July 23, 2004

In the footsteps of fictional characters

The City Library organises guided walking tours around Reykjavík centre, where scenes of great Icelandic literature are visited. There is a guide who delicately blends the world of fiction with history, while an actor reads excerpts from selected books and brings them to life at the very places they are set in. At noteworthy places, we would stop to listen to her learned lectures on buildings of importance to the city’s history.

The first building we came upon is the oldest house in Reykjavík, which happens to be right next to where the first settler of Iceland lived. Workers attempted to drown out the voice of our tour guide with their vehement sawing but we outsmarted them by relocating. We also saw the government building, where our actor read about its fictional inmates. Yes, it used to be a prison. Then we saw the lake, where the ducks tried to drown out the voice of the actor, but his deep bellowing overpowered their measly squeaks. Another building we came upon was the first elementary school in Reykjavík.

A car roamed the parking lot, but gave way to our insistent method of simply standing there. Our tour guide then bravely confronted a car when we stood outside a local bar, Kaffibarinn, and gracefully manoeuvred it to drive on the further side of the street while we listened to more knowledge. The tour then ended in the middle of a crowded book store as we listened to the last book excerpt. It was refreshing to see how the whole tour gained a certain charm from all its distractions instead of losing ground to it.

Not only will visitors benefit from this walk, but more locals also should sign up to see what Reykjavík was like before the time of mobile phones. Either way, it’s definitely not necessary to have read any of the local subject matter to be able to enjoy the walk, and you´ll certainly have a fine introduction to the greatest works of Icelandic literature.

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