Að fara til Íslands

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Title: Að fara til Íslands
Author(s): Naraht
Date(s): 18 December 2011
Length: 8455 words
Genre: backstory
Fandom: Mary Renault
External Links: - in Yuletide 2011 collection
- on MRF

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"Að fara til Íslands" is a novelette by Naraht based on Mary Renault's 1953 novel The Charioteer. It is based on the remark in Chapter 2 that Ralph Lanyon "had spent last year's summer holidays working his passage to Iceland and back in a trawler." The title of the story is in Icelandic, and means "Going to Iceland".

Unable to take the expensive summer holidays the other boys enjoy, Ralph decides to go to sea—an experience that is an eye-opener in so many ways. His summer in Iceland is equally educational, and includes an encounter with the poet W. H. Auden (who did, in fact, visit Iceland).

"Að fara til Íslands" was written as a gift for serriadh in Yuletide 2011. The story was originally posted to the main Yuletide collection. After the author reveal, it was posted to the maryrenaultfics LiveJournal community on 9 January 2012.

The author added the following comment at the end of the story:

As an English-speaker it isn't easy to do research on Iceland in the 1930s. I've borrowed liberally from Auden and MacNeice's Letters from Iceland, Humphrey Carpenter's Auden, and the excellent information provided on the website of the Hotel Djúpavík."

Additional discussion of her research can be found on her Dreamwidth blog in her "Yuletide reveal 2011" post.

Fan Comments

The story received numerous favourable comments, including the following:

  • "Absolutely stunning piece of fiction. Beautiful work."—comment by tryfanstone
  • "Oh, this was so good. I'm almost lost for words. You seem to have captured all of my favourite things (the far North, Auden, Ralph, Ransome...) and mixed them to produce this fabulous fic. I love the descriptions of Rekjavik and Iceland, and the similarities and differences you hint at between Ralph's life at school and this new, summer, existence. And Ralph is so very Ralph. So un-introspective and straightforward about it all, and yet poetic in his own way. Thank you so much."—comment by serriadh
  • "I really like the way you draw out Ralph's romantic yet largely realistic yearning for exploration and adventure, his missteps and his willingness to work. It feels extremely plausible as backstory for him."—comment by wychwood
  • "This idea is in itself so startlingly well-spotted, the possibility for it, I mean. There's a quality here I don't know how to describe: a successful adaptation of Renault's simplicity (which has a quite different tone in her modern stories), I guess. The knitting, a different thing when practiced solemnly by Icelandic sailors. 'The past is another country' can be felt so clearly here."—comment by lionpyh
  • "Oh my god, this is stunning. I don't even know what to say, except that I love every single thing about it -- well, Auden especially, but also Iceland, and the ocean, and the mountains, and Ralph. I don't know The Charioteer at all well -- just barely well enough to read fic, and I read this for Auden and because the story sounded wonderful, not really for Ralph -- but this story makes me want to go back and read the book, too. (Even though one of the things I do like most about the story is that you don't have to know the canon, because it stands beautifully on its own.) A+ x billions, basically."—comment by oliviacirce
  • "This is probably the best-written story I've read all Yuletide this year. Very nice work."—comment by lnhammer