Highlight of the month

Treasures

What is in the lead cylinder?

Svava Jakobsdóttir

Hvað er í blýhólknum? (What is in the lead cylinder?)

Svava Jakobsdóttir (1930-2004) remarked in an interview in Þjóðviljinn on the 27th of June 1974: „Maybe  I´m a born feminist? It is safe to say that my first aim in life was to be taken seriously  in spite of being a girl!“

In her works she always dealt with the status of women and gender equality. The premiere of Svava’s first play, Hvað er í blýhólknum? (What is in the lead cylinder?) was premiered in Lindarbær by the theatre group Gríma on the 12th of November 1970. María Kristjánsdóttir was the director. Svava Jakobsdóttir had at this time published the short story collections 12 konur (12 women) and Veizla undir grjótvegg (A feast under a stone wall) and the short story Leigjandinn (The Tenant).

The play Hvað er í blýhólknum? attracted much attention as it focused on the contemporary status of women, a subject that was very much debated at this time.

While the play was performed a survey was conducted by three students at the Sociology Department of The University of Iceland. One of the questions was whether it was more natural for women than men to do housework. The outcome was that 52,6% did not think so but 41,6%, on the other hand, thought this was the case. A coverage in Icelandic of this survey can be viewed here:  http://timarit.is/view_page_init.jsp?pageId=2827260.

Svava’s manuscript of Hvað er í blýhólknum?  and more of her manuscripts are preserved in the manuscript department of The National and University Library of Iceland (Lbs 136 NF). Clippings and ephemera related to her life and work are kept in the Women's History Archives. This material is the highlight of the month this October on the occasion of Reykjavik Reads Festival 2015, hosted by Reykjavik City of Literature, where Svava’s work is now in focus.

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