The Poet's Path

Unuhús is a small house in the oldest part of Reykjavík. It was built in 1896 and is famous from the works of two major Icelandic authors: Halldór Laxness and Thórbergur Thórdarson.

Next to Unuhús lies a small path called “Skáldastígur” (The Poet’s Path), drawing its name from the fact that it was the main pathway to Unuhús, which was a refuge for writers and other intellectuals during the first decades of the twentieth century.

The house was named after its mistress, Una Gísladóttir, but later her son, Erlendur, who is the prototype for the organist in Laxness’ss novel Atómstödin (The Atom Station), took over as head of the house. Thórbergur Thórdarson’s autobiographical novel Ofvitinn (The Eccentric) from 1940–1941, tells of how mother and son, who were then strangers to Thórbergur, saved him from hunger and cold, and of his first introduction of Unuhús.

FROM THE ECCENTRIC:

“I had never seen such a pleasant room before. It was bright and gleaming, all its colours were clean and pure and it seemed that every board of the panelling and ceiling and every object inside spoke like a living thing and breathed a warm and friendly welcome. It was like a luminous world that existed irrespective of the greyness and rain in the country. No object inside spoke of private property. It was as if the room belonged to no one. It was as if it just stood here on the world’s highway and all of humanity could walk in uninvited. I liked it here. I felt like I should always have a home here.”

 

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Thórbergur Thórdarsson