News May 29, 2012

Wakeful Nights – Stephan G. Stephansson: Icelandic-Canadian Poet

Wakeful Nights. Stephan G. Stephansson: Icelandic-Canadian Poet by Viðar Hreinsson is a biography of  Stephan G. Stephansson published in English. An Icelandic biography was previously published by Bjartur Publishing: Landneminn mikli (2002) and Andvökuskáld (2003); the first volume was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize in 2002 and the completed work received the 2003 Award for Exellence in Scholarly Writing.

Stephan G. was born in Skagafjörður, Iceland in 1853 and grew up at Mjóidalur, near Bárðardalur in Northern Iceland. He emigrated to North America at the age of 19, first homesteading in Wisconsin then the Dakota Territories and finally at Makerville, Alberta in 1889. Stephan G. was self-educated, never had the opportunity to attend school, but nevertheless became one of the greatest poets in Icelandic literary history. Professors of literature in North America have called him, “The greatest poet of the Western World”, and “the earliest poet of the first rank, writing in any language, to emerge in the national life of Canada.“ He is not well known in North America because he wrote in the Icelandic language. This biography, 75 years after his demise, presents a comprehensive record of Stephan G.‘s accomplishments and philosophy to English speaking readers for the first time.

The compiling and editing of this work was supported by The Icelandic Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, The Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Icelandic Language and Literature Fund, University of Manitoba, Stephan V. Benediktson, and the Baugur Group.

“Yet the man who emerges from this portrait is complicated and real. Hreinsson’s Stephansson is proud, questioning and sagacious—an Icelandic heir to Emerson, Whitman or Thoreau. … A deferential, unsentimental portrait that ably captures Stephansson’s life and legacy.” Kirkus Review

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