Schuh’s Annotated Bio-Bibliography

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(1726 – 1768)

(Born: Snaefellsnes, Iceland, 1726; Died: At sea in Breida Bay off the northwest coast of Iceland, May 1768) Icelandic poet & antiquarian.

Òlaffsson is an outstanding figure in the history of Iceland's fight to preserve and revive its language, culture, and economy. He was of an old farming family, and his major interests lay in natural history. He took a bachelor's degree at the University of Copenhagen. Encouraged by the Danish authorities who governed Iceland at the time he was entrusted to write a meticulous description of the places, climate, inhabitants, lifestyle, traditions, fauna, flora, and mineral resources. Assisted by his friend Bjarni Pálsson, he composed his Reise igiennem Island (1772), which was very popular, and existed for many years as the best and principle source of information about Iceland.

Biographical references: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition. Poggendorff: 2, col. 319.

1. Latin, 1749 [Dissertation].
Præs. Enerrationes historicæ de natural et constitutione Islandiæ, formatæ et transformatæ par eruptiones ignis. Particula prima de Islandia antequam cœpta est habitari. Resp. Illogo Sigurdi Filio. Hafniæ, 1749.

8°: 148 p.

Very rare. Òlaffsson authored this dissertation on the history and natural science of his native Iceland, describing the formation and transformation of the landscape through volcanic eruptions.

Bibliographical references: BL [152.a.10.]. Katalog Bergakademie Freiberg, 1879: p. 490 [IX. 1201.]. LKG: XIV 26.

Reise igiennem Island, 1772

2. Danish, 1772 [First edition].
Vice=Lavmand Eggert Olafsens | og | Land=Physici Biarne Povelsens | Reise igiennem Island, | foranstaltet | af | Videnskabernes Sælskab | i Kiobenhavn, | og beskreven af forbemeldte | Eggert Olafson, | med | dertil hørende 51 Kobbertstøkker | og | et nyt forfærdiget Kart over Island. | [rule] | Første Deel. | [double rule] | Sorøe, 1772. | Trykt hos Jonas Lindgren Enke.

2 vols. [Vol 1] 4°: [12], [1]-618, [2] p. [Vol 2] 4°: [619]-1042, [62], 20, [2] p., 51 plates, one engraved map.

Rare. Co-authored with Bjarni Pálsson and edited by G. Schøning. Released in 1772 this book is a good scientific description of Iceland, containing observations on the manners and customs of the inhabitants, a description of the lakes, rivers, glaciers, hot-springs, and volcanoes, of the various kinds of earths, stones, fossils, and petrifactions, as well as of the animals, insects, fishes, etc. It was based upon a survey the authors performed at the request of the King of Denmark. They arrived on the island in 1752 and altogether spent five years on this scientific journey. On the basis of this report of the journey, the Danish government reinterpreted and reevaluated their role in Iceland.

Modern Icelandic translation, 1968: Búnaðarbálkur. Ljósprentáð eiginhandarrit höfundar Lbs. 1513. Vilhjalmur Jón Thorsteinsson Gislason gaf út. Reykjavík: Bókaútgáfa Menningarsjóðs, 1968. Pages not numbered, illus., facsims. [BL, X.955/1029.]

Bibliographical references: Bibliotheca Danica: 3, 613. BL [983.d.8.]. Fiske: 1, 439. LKG: XIV 27a. Personal communication [Peter Kiefer, Pforzheim, supplied a title page image for transcription.].

3. German, 1774-5 [German transl.].
Des vice-lavmands Eggert Olafsens und des landphysici Biarne Povelsens Reise durch Island,veranstaltet von der Königlichen societät der wissenschaften in Kopenhagen undbeschrieben von bemeldtem Eggert Olafsen. Aus dem dänischen übersetzt [von Joachim Michael Geuss]. Mit 25 kupfertafeln und einer neuen charte über Island versehen ..., Kopenhagen und Leipzig, Heinecke und Faber,1774-5.

2 vols. [Vol 1: 1774] 4°: [16], 328 p. [Vol 2: 1774] 4°: xvi, 244 p., 51 engraved plates, one folding table.

Very scarce. Transation by Joachim Michael Geuss [??-??] of Povelsen Reise igiennem Island (Sorøe, 1772).

Bibliographical references: BL [983.d.10.]. Katalog Bergakademie Freiberg, 1879: p. 490 [IX. 1197.]. LKG: XIV 28b.

4. French, 1802 [French transl.].
Voyage | En Islande, | Fait Par Ordre De S.M. Danoise, | Contenant des observations sur les mœurs | et les usages des Habitans; une description des | Lacs, Rivières, Glaciers, Sources Chaudes et | Volcans; des diverses espèces de Terres, Pierres, | Fossiles et Pétrifications; des Animaux, Poissons | et Insectes etc., etc.; | Avec Un Atlas; | Traduit du danois par Gauthier- | de-Lapeyronie, traducteur des Voyages | de Pallas. | Tome Preimier. | Prix: 12 francs. | [ornate rule] | A Paris, | Chez les Frères Levrault, Libraires, | quai Malaquai; | Et à Strasbourg, chez les mêmes. | [rule] | (1802.)

5 vols. and an atlas of plates. [Vol 1] 8°: [2], iv, 444 p. [Vol 2] 8°: [2], 434 p. [Vol 3] 8°: [2], 400 p. [Vol 4] 8°: [2], 451 p. [Vol 5] 8°: [2], 419 p. [Atlas] 4°: [2] p., 59 plates.

Very scarce. Translation by Gauthier de la Peyronie [??-??] of Povelsen Reise igiennem Island (Sorøe, 1772).

Bibliographical references: Barbier: 4, 1084. BL [567.f.4.]. LKG: XIV 28c*. Personal communication [Peter Kiefer, Pforzheim, supplied a title page image for transcription.].

Travels in Iceland, 1805

5. English, 1805 [English transl.].
Travels | In | Iceland: | Performed | By Order Of His Danish Majesty. | Containing | Observations On The Manners And Customs Of The | Inhabitants, A Description Of The Lakes, Rivers, | Glaciers, Hot-Springs, ANd Volcanoes; Of The | Various Kinds Of Earths, Stones, Fossils, And | Petrifications, As Well As Of The Animals, In- | Sects, Fishes, &c. | [tapered rule] | By | Messrs. Olafsen & Povelsen. | [tapered rule] | Translated From The Danish. | [double rule] | London: | Printed for Richar Phillips, 6, Bridge-Street. | Blackfriars, | By Bernard & Salter, Water Lane, Fleet Street. | [rule] | 1805.

8°: [i]-iv, [1]-162 p.

Contents: [i-ii], Title page, verso blank.; [iii]-iv, "Preface."; [1]-158, Text.; [159]-162, "Index."

Very scarce. Copiously illustrated in colour and black and white throughout. "Containing obervations on the manners and customs of the inhabitants, a dscription of the lakes, rivers, glaciers, hot-springs and volcanoes; of the various kinds of earths, stones, fossils and petrifications; as well as of the animals, insects, fishes, & c."

Sections: 1. Southern Quarter 2. Western Quarter of Iceland 3. Various Interesting Particulars 4. Journey to the Westerjkel 5. Northern Quarter 6. Eastern Quarter 7. Southern Quarter

Revised English translation, 1975: Travels in Iceland. By Eggert Òlafsson and Bjarni Pálsson. Translated from the Danish [by F.W.B]. Revised English edition. [Reykjavik]. Örn og Örlygur, 1975. [8], 168 p., 88 plates, illus. (some col), one map (on lining papers). Includes index. [BL, X.802/10537.]

Bibliographical references: BL. NUC.