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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


The Blue Fox


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To purchase The Blue Fox

Title: The Blue Fox
Author: Sjón
Genre: Novel
Written: 2004 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 115 pages
Original in: Icelandic
Availability: The Blue Fox - US
The Blue Fox - UK
The Blue Fox - Canada
The Blue Fox - India
Le moindre des mondes - France
Schattenfuchs - Deutschland
La volpe azzurra - Italia
  • Icelandic title: Skugga-Baldur
  • Translated by Victoria Cribb

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Our Assessment:

B+ : finely turned little story

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ D 9/11/2007 Klaus Ungerer
The Independent . 14/7/2012 Nuruddin Farah
TLS A 27/4/2011 Carolyne Larrington
Wall Street Journal A 11/5/2013 Sam Sacks
Die Zeit A 31/5/2007 Sandra Hoffmann

  From the Reviews:
  • "Je öfter man sich an solchen Floskeln vorbeimüht, desto mehr fühlt man sich als Leser betrogen: So wie das schwerstmögliche Menschenschicksal heraufbeschworen wird, so wird auch denkbar naturnächste Erfahrung hergenommen, um auf billigstmögliche Weise den Leser ins Buch zu ziehen. Selbst wenn die sprachlichen Mittel dem gerecht würden, so bliebe immer noch die Frage klaffend im Raum: Was soll das ?" - Klaus Ungerer< Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "It is possible to compress all one has to say about The Blue Fox by the Icelandic author Sjón in two words, "Enchantingly poetic". (...) The narration is done skillfully too. There is a lot of poetry in this novel." - Nuruddin Farah, The Independent

  • "The two narrative threads come together in the rest of this taut, poetic and beautifully judged fable; man and vixen confront one another, while the novels final sequence explains the connections between the priest and the woman." - Carolyne Larrington, Times Literary Supplement

  • "(A) nearly perfect modern myth refined to novella length." - Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

  • "Kraftvoll knapp sind seine Figuren gezeichnet, mit sparsam gesetzten Leitmotiven werden Verschränkungen, Spiegelungen, die Verwandlung des Jägers in den Pfarrer und schließlich in die Füchsin so kunstvoll erzählt, dass man einfach nur sagen kann: Chapeau, oder: Runter mit der dicken Mütze !" - Sandra Hoffmann, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Blue Fox is a slim, cold little fable, presented in several parts that are then neatly tied together.
       Set in 1883, the novel begins with a description of a man hunting a fox, a miniature epic hunting tale spread over some thirty pages, with only a brief passage or description (or even sentence -- "The night was cold and of the longer variety") on each page, pacing the unfolding tale like a children's book. The second section turns back to the events of the days just before the man set out on his hunt, culminating in the burial of a local woman (and "simpleton"), known as Abba. Reverend Baldur Skuggason performs the funeral -- and he's the one who had then set out to hunt the blue fox.
       The third section continues where the first left off -- Baldur's shot at the fox fired ..... The shot unleashes more than he intends, and instead of being able to set off to Reykjavík to debate electricity (he's against it) as he had originally planned to do after his little hunting expedition, he finds himself in rather a different state (of mind, among other things).
       A final section, consisting of a letter dated some two months later, ties up the various threads and fills in some of the blanks -- explaining also how the hunt, its aftermath, and the circumstances surrounding Abba are all of a piece.
       Lyrical, with an air of mysteries, the appeal and success of The Blue Fox lies as much in how it's told as anything else. Arguably coy (or downright manipulative) in how (and when) information is revealed, the reader who patiently allows Sjón to unfold his tale in this roundabout way nevertheless finds adequate reward: it's a haunting little story. Piece by piece, too, it's nicely done -- richly atmospheric, with the whole then surprisingly resonant.

- M.A.Orthofer, 19 May 2013

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The Blue Fox: Reviews: Other books by Sjón under review: Sjón: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Icelandic author Sjón (Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson) was born in 1962.

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© 2013-2016 the complete review

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