Abstract

Hallgrímur Helgason's novel 101 Reykjavik, first published in 1996, was made into a film directed by Baltasar Kormákur in 2000 and subsequently translated into English by Brian Fitzgibbon. In one sense, both novel and film are adaptations, in that while the film is clearly based on the novel, the novel in turn insistently patterns itself on Shakespeare's Hamlet, with one of its central jokes being that its hero, unemployed 33-year-old Icelander Hlynur Björn Hafsteinsson, is both extraordinarily like Hamlet in temperament and situation and yet, in a way that the novel itself presents as part of the essence of Hamletism, also so self-obsessed that he refuses to register open awareness of the fact. Instead, he drifts through a series of Hamletesque situations thinking only of how they affect himself, without ever registering either that others are also involved or that his ‘self’ is in fact constructed and conditioned by external powers and precedents. By the end of the book, however, it is clear that Hamletism is not, as it was for Chekhov, a badge of doom, but actually a condition which can be outgrown and survived, as Hlynur Björn finally starts to take an interest in someone other than himself, his infant son/brother.

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