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Icelandic academic's translation of Thomas Hardy's novel donated to Dorset County Museum
A DOCUMENT displaying the tireless efforts of an Icelandic academic who strived to bring the works of Thomas Hardy to his country has been donated to the Dorset County Museum.
The daughter of Snaebjorn Jonsson handed over a manuscript of her father’s translation of Return Of The Native to Thomas Hardy Society secretary Mike Nixon at the Dorchester museum.
The 707-page handwritten document was one of four of the famous Dorchester writer’s works that Mr Jonsson translated so they could be published in Iceland.
Mr Jonsson was an outspoken intellectual who had studied, lived and worked in England and developed a love of Hardy.
In 1927 he established the English Bookshop in Reykjavik in a bid to bring world literature and English culture to the country of his birth.
Among the works he translated were Return Of The Native and Tess Of The D’Urber-villes, as well as poems The Oxen and The Duke’s Reappearance.
Mr Jonsson’s daughter Sigridur Kristin Lister said: “They became very popular in Iceland, Tess was published twice.”
Sigridur, 80, inherited the copy of Return Of The Native around 50 years ago and it ended up with her daughter, Pat Farmer, who lives in Poole so they decided to bring it to the museum when she was visiting from her home in Iceland.
She said: “My father must be doing a song and dance with delight knowing this is going to the Thomas Hardy collection.”
Sigridur said unfortunately the manuscript of her father’s manuscript of his Tess Of The D’Ubervilles had been lost over the years.
She said her father, who died in England in 1978, was a very outspoken and articulate scholar who had an ‘extraordinary command of both Icelandic and English’. Mr Nixon said that the Thomas Hardy Society was delighted to see the manuscript brought to Dorchester and it would be kept either at the Dorset County Museum or in the archives of the Dorset History Centre.
He said: “This is a unique piece of work.
“It’s totally extraordinary that a man can in freehand translate into Icelandic 707 pages.
“It’s such a commitment to the work of Hardy.”
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