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B.A. RITGERÐIN mín heitir: „In the trail of ghosts: Kristjana Gunnars' improvations on history in Settlement poems 1 & 2 and The axe's edge.“ Reykjavík, 1996 (79 bls.) Lokaritgerð til B.A. prófs í ensku við Háskóla Íslands.

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My BA-thesis, „In the Trail of Ghosts: Kristjana Gunnars' Improvisations on History in Settlement Poems 1 and 2 and The Axe's Edge." PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHT. I would be happy to know if you plan to quote the thesis, so please notify me if you do. Click on icon to download (292 KB).

This is my BA-thesis, submitted to The University of Iceland in June, 1996. It delves into the works of an Icelandic-born writer and poet, Kristjana Gunnars, who moved to the United States with her parents at sixteen and later settled in Canada. The writing of the thesis was supervised by Dr. Guðrún Guðsteinsdóttir, lecturer in the English Department. NACS - The Nordic Association for Canadian Studies, generously supplied me with a grant to travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in the summer of 1995.

In Winnipeg, I stayed with friendly relatives, Thor and Sylvia Sigurdsson - who provided me with shelter and so much love that I will never forget those 2 weeks. Working hours were spent at the University of Manitoba's Library, collecting information about Kristjana Gunnars. Luckily, Dr. Gunnars had then recently donated her private library, notes, etc. to the University Library. These had not yet been sorted and labelled, but I was allowed to see them and take valuable notes. Sigrid Johnson, the librarian in charge of the Icelandic collection, handed to me tidbits of information and gave me instructions on how to find what I needed, for which I am indebted to her..


The purpose of the following essay is to take a close look at Kristjana Gunnars' first books of poetry, Settlement Poems 1 and 2 (1980) and her short story collection, The Axe's Edge (1983), within the context of her later work. The three works all deal with different aspects of the immigrant experience, and in each of them Gunnars develops similar themes where central images occur. This crossreference enhances the reader's understanding of the subject that provides the basis for Gunnars' variations. I have divided the essay into chapters that correspond to some of these major themes, e.g. fragmentation, uncovering, dislocation and survival. The one central overall theme of the three works is metamorphosis, i.e. how the immigants changed from being helpless, dislocated people to fully integrated Icelandic Canadians. In writing these books Gunnars also comes to terms with her own immigrant experience. Therefore, the opening chapter is devoted to Kristjana Gunnars' background and explores how her own experiences are linked with the main themes of the three works discussed. This chapter also deals with how Gunnars has woven the history of the Icelandic settlement into semi-fictional literature. Each of the other chapters covers an aspect of the central theme of metamorphosis.

Each chapter starts with references to Kristjana Gunnars' own experience as an immigrant, and examines what she has revealed about her life that aligns with the theme in question. Then I look at how she develops each theme, first in the Settlement Poems 1 & 2 and then The Axe's Edge. Finally, in the conclusion I discuss how successfully Gunnars deals with these themes and compare my findings to critical commentary on her work.

Chapter II, "The Theme of Uncovering"
Chapter III, "The Theme of Fragmentation"
Chapter IV, "The Theme of Survival"
Chapter V, "The Theme of Dislocation"
Chapter VI, "Criticism & Conclusion"
Footnotes & Bibliography


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