Sunday, 26 April 2009
I recently discovered the website of the Icelandic poet, journalist, novelist and playwright Matthías Johannessen, who for 40 years was the editor of Iceland's main daily newspaper, Morgunblaðið. I met him and talked with him in the late 1970s. When I found the site I was surprised to find that there he has stored the entire enormous volume of his Diary, which he began in 1955 and has continued more or less without a break until the present day. For anyone wishing to learn about the history of Iceland in the 20th century and indeed about the history and culture of Iceland in general, this is a valuable resource. The site also contains poems, essays and interviews.
Recent posts to the Diary include a reflection on the historical, social and economic issues connected with Iceland's newfound aspiration to join the European Union, and an essay-review on a new book by the Norwegian-French magistrate Eva Joly, who was recently employed as a special adviser by the Icelandic government to investigate the possibility that white-collar crime may have played a part in the 2008–2009 Icelandic financial crisis.
The subjects in the Diary range far and wide, and cover not only Icelandic issues but also most aspects of international affairs (over the decades the diarist interviewed an astonishing number of well-known political leaders, writers and intellectuals as, for one reason or another, they passed through his country). Readers may find that the views expressed quite often don't tally with their own, but the texts are always clearly-written and informative, and create a unique picture of how the world can look from the top of the globe.