Vignettes VII

The author draws vivid pictures of contemporary times with a rich variety of themes, from individual vulnerability and dignity to harshness and humiliation. Vignettes VII also includes a number of -experiences recorded in Greenland that hope to give the reader a feeling for that magical land. As ever, there are a few portraits of important social figures and some insights into world events. At the other end of the spectrum are some vignettes about the less tangible world of the spirit. Ármann Reynisson has acquired a repu-tation both in Iceland and abroad for his lively and thought-provoking vignettes that can be reflected on individually or read aloud, -according to the occasion.


Pourqoui pas?

Around noon one autumn day just a few years before World War Two, a streamlined schooner sailed out of the Reykjavik harbour and into calm waters. It escaped no one’s notice that the weather was especially still and calm. Flags did not flap at their flagpoles, the sky was wrapped up in cloud and the sea was motionless. ‘The Ambassador of the Oceans,’ as the Pourqoui pas? was sometimes called, was on its final voyage back to France with the famous explorer Charcot, a little bent with age, and his crew on board.

Unexpected entertainment

At the height of the party, the doorbell rings and a certain pharmacist enters on a bicycle and makes directly for the table so that the guests are driven out of the way. He helps himself to a little of everything as if he were mixing drugs and swallows down the concoction with intermittent gulps of cola, then belches and rushes out in the same manner as he entered.


After a short walk from the airport across some stony ground, between a rolling mountain slope on the one side and the sea adorned with floating ice on the other, appears the town of Kulusuk. At its outskirts, Kamma, a short woman dressed in her Kalaallisuut costume, unexpectedly appears. Her dark hair is gathered in a topknot that points straight up behind her head like a chimney. Around her shoulders and down over her breasts is a broad shawl, entirely woven with beautifully coloured glass beads, artfully threaded into a chequered pattern, and two bracelets in the same style around her wrists.

City of ice

On the west coast of Greenland is a fjord in which a city of ice has been built up over the years and no other city in the world can boast of equal splendour. No human creature lives there; rather it is the home of those who cannot be seen.

The illustrious hunter

The cunning hunter is tall and well-proportioned with eagle eyes that peer in all directions when they need to. In his ordinary daily life, he is calm and kind and draws little attention to himself. But when he grabs a gun or a fishing rod he undergoes a change and he is reborn.

Farewell to Greenland

Few are unaffected by the flood of light over the glacial ice. It touches all the nerve cells in ones body and urges one to return. Greenland is the land of the future. The ice cap lies like a dragon on its hoard of gold, and no one can say exactly how much wealth it contains until the treasure chest is opened.

Lamp posts

There’s one thing in the city that is indispensable, and that is the lamp posts that light the darkness so that pedestrians and drivers can make their way, safe and sound, from one place to another. They sprout up out of the pavement everywhere like trees in all kinds of shapes and sizes—like giant walking canes.

Snow people

Out of the houses, the small folk stream, dressed for action. They knead snowballs tightly in their hands and then begin to roll them along the ground where they quickly grow larger and larger. Once they have made a large ball, they begin again to make some more. Then they start to make snow people; at the base is the largest ball, then the middle ball, and at the top they place the smallest one that serves as its head.

The dunce

For a long time there was a tradition in primary schools of classifying pupils purely according to their reading ability and then streaming them at the beginning of each school year. They were made to read all sorts of texts in rapid succession and the exact time was recorded as if it were a race.

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