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Skriduklaustur is a culture and learning institute in the valley of Fljotsdalur in East Iceland. It is a historical site and home to the Gunnar institute, dedicated to the life and works of author Gunnar Gunnarsson. 

History and premises

Skriduklaustur was a major monastery in the middle ages and much research work along with excavations are being done at the site.

The current building, Gunnarshus, was commissioned by Icelandic author Gunnar Gunnarsson, who had it built in 1939. A stately mansion, the house was designed in a South-Bavarian style by German architecht Fritz Höger. The house features a museum on Gunnar and hosts various exhibitions on Gunnar and his work, as well as cultural events.  The house offers a guest apartment for writers and scholars and a restaurant. There is also a visitors centre for Vatnajokull national park, home to Europe’s largest glacier.

Skriduklaustur operates a research center as well, dedicated to agricultural developments.

Gunnar Gunnarsson

Gone are the years when I was young and still innocent except for original sin … the years when adventures brought me experience without bitterness … the years when my sympathy with all things living was uncritical and intense … when God seemed to me a  generous, friendly grandfather, the Devil a rather dangerous and moody but, on the whole, essentially stupid and harmless godfather … the years when light was triumphant indeed, and all evil, all fear, could be turned aside by an Our Father or the sign of the cross, the years when in the morning I could but dimly forsee the evening, and sat safely in the shelter of a wall of sods playing with straw … these indeed are the years that will never return. 

And it is not only the years that have passed. Many of those then living are now dead, others scattered to the winds; even their memory only peeps out intermittently, like stars between the breaks in a cloud-covered sky.

Gunnar Gunnarsson, Fjallkirkjan-Leikur ad Straum (1923).

One of the greatest Icelandic prose writers, Gunnar grew up in the late 19th Century at the farms Valthjofsstadur, in Fljotdalur valley and later at Ljotsstadir in Vopnafjordur, both in the Fljotsdalsherad district. As a young man, he moved to Denmark, lived there from 1907 to 1939. Through struggles grew to be one of the most widely read authors in Denmark and Germany in his time.

Gunnar wrote about two dozen novels, dozens of short stories, a few plays and several poems, along with many lectures and articles. His greatest works are marvelous works of art. These include the autobiographical novel cycle Fjallkirkjan, (published in English as Ships in the Sky and The Night and the Dream), Svartfugl (The Black Cliffs),Adventa (The Good Shepherd) and Vikivaki. His first book, Saga Borgaraettarinnar (translated to English as Guest the One-Eyed) was made into a film, Borgslaegtens historie in 1920. Gunnar donated Skriduklaustur to the Icelandic state in 1948 and lived the rest of his life in Reykjavik. He is buried off the shore of the capital, at Videy island. 

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