In Iceland, silence is much more than just a space between sounds. Silence is time moving backwards and forwards. Silence rises up from the earth, the atmosphere is charged with it. Silence in Iceland is a dizzying aural experience.
In Iceland, I feel both connection and loss as I stand in the silence, witness to the passage of time. I sense the fragility and the awesome power of nature. I feel never more alone, and yet never more connected to the earth and all things on it.
I have been researching the ways in which Icelandic past-place was perceived and transmitted by travelers to the remote island. Some travelers were seeking an experience of the sublime, and the silence of the landscape was often commented upon. I was happily surprised to find these books, all accounts of travel to Iceland, hiding in plain sight in the Library Company’s own word-hoard. They date from 1758 to 1882. Here are some excerpts and some illustrations: