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© William Sansom Estate 2017

London. All rights reserved.

The Icicle and the Sun

Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark

1958

Hogarth Press

Full of too much talk of the souht, Mr Sansom embarked on a ship with a Christmas tree lashed to the masthead and with one question in mind - what exactly is this shapeless thing we so roughly call 'Scandinavia'?

He found four very different countries - Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway: he found no endless daub of peasant prettiness and clean grey living but strange, distinct countries where the snows might be lavender, and skies green, sheep walk on the sea, live giant pink horses drag out the lifeboat and huge-hatted spinsters smoke cigars; where vodka washes down the August crayfish, and beer and smoked reindeer enliven nights of brilliant fire and forest. He went for the taste and smell and colour of each place - the capital cities, the polar provinces, the holiday grounds - sitting around the cafes to watch the detail of daily life, to feel what it is really like to be there, a there which is always like nowhere else on earth.

 

This is a book as colourful as a box of paints; a vivid and intimate account of unusual places near to us but still largely unknown. 

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Exceptionally good.

Raymond Mortimer, Sunday Times

Criticism


He writes with a knowledge and affection that will make his book a joy to admirers of the north; and no one has filled in the map more vividly for the uninitiated.

 

The Times


Mr Sansom is a painter in prose. He makes you drunk with the colour of his words...I was transported to Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway in a caravanserai of delight. He has the wonderful attribute of not only portraying for you the ciaroscuro of the countries he visited, the richness of the architecture, the life and again I say colour of the country, but also the personality of the people. I can assure you that if I had the money I would be off to Scandinavia tomorrow.

Diana Graves, BBC


The many truths about Scandinavia...are firmly seized by Mr Sansom...The perceptive eye and the telling phrase: these have always been the strength of Mr Sansom's writing...Mr Sansom's gift for pinning down an impression is happily at the service of the vacarious tourist..One may without exaggeration apply the phrase "a fine sensual exactitude" to most of Mr Sansom's writing in this book. All his sense are operative. Sight, of course, above all. He is a born colourist - precise, harmonious and surprising.

 

The Times Literary Supplement


His writing is rich in the evocative phrase. He can sum up with stabbing economy and catch the special feeling of a landscape in a rapid series of admirable images.

 

Punch


Mr Sansom is blessed with an international spirit and an artist's eyes.

Joanna Richardson, Time and Tide