Icelandic literature

The Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries

The Protestant Reformation, reaching Iceland in the 16th cent., turned literary emphasis to hymns and illuminations of the Protestant faith. Einar Sigurdsson (1538–1626) was the great spiritual poet of the age. The first printing press was brought to Iceland in 1528 by Bishop Jón Aresson. From the Reformation until the late 18th cent. it was under church control; secular works were circulated in manuscript. After 1550, German and Danish influences were strong.

The great secular poets of the 17th cent. were Hallgrímur Petursson (1614–74), author of the Passion Hymns, and the satirist Stefan Olafsson (1620–88). Neoclassicism dominated literary style in the late 18th cent. In the early 19th cent. Árni Magnusson compiled a library of ancient Icelandic masterpieces.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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