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Seven University professors in the field of literature were in the dark last night about the achievements of Halder Laxness, Icelandic author who has won the 1955 Nobel Prize for Literature. Only Gunnar K. Baklund, lecturer on Swedish, could state that Laxness's success lies in his adoption of the form and simple prose of the ancient Icelandic saga.
Meanwhile, Ernest Hemingway, reached by telephone at his home in Cuba, called Laxness "one of the most outstanding and least recognized" literary figures of his day. Last year's Nobel laureate in literature said that he had read Laxness" works, three of which had been translated from the Icelandic, and that the author "certainly deserved" the prize this year.
"I don't care about his politics one bit," Hemingway went on to say of the Icelandic author, who has taken part in Communist-sponsored peace movements of recent years but has never actually joined the party. The American writer repeated his comment of last year that he would like to see Ezra Pound win the literary honor, but he reaffirmed that he was satisfied by the choice of Laxness.
The seven University professors contacted last night all said they had heard of Laxness, but did not know very much about him. Some remarked that they had been planning to read some of his works, and one, Taylor Starck, Kuno Franck Professor of German Art and Culture, remarked that now he will "have to look up Laxness's books in the very near future."
Hemingway told of how the Swedish consul in Cuba called him at his home in San Francisco do Paula yesterday as soon as news of the Nobel judges' decision had arrived. He then immediately sent Laxness a telegram saying "Truest congratulations and best wishes to an excellent writer."
Concerning his own literary activity, Hemingway revealed that he is now working on the 675th typewritten page of his latest book. He said that this novel would differ greatly from his last work, "The Old Man and the Sea."
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