A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
"Now," said he, "will you be kind enough to tell me what books you hoped to find in our
library and I may perhaps enable you to consult them?"
My uncle's eyes and mine met. He hesitated. This direct question went to the root of the
matter. But after a moment's reflection he decided on speaking.
"Monsieur Fridrikssen, I wished to know if amongst your ancient books you possessed
any of the works of Arne Saknussemm?"
"Arne Saknussemm!" replied the Rejkiavik professor. "You mean that learned sixteenth
century savant, a naturalist, a chemist, and a traveller?"
"One of the glories of Icelandic literature and science?"
"That's the man."
"An illustrious man anywhere!"
"And whose courage was equal to his genius!"
"I see that you know him well."
My uncle was bathed in delight at hearing his hero thus described. He feasted his eyes
upon M. Fridrikssen's face.
"Well," he cried, "where are his works?"
"His works, we have them not."
"What--not in Iceland?"
"They are neither in Iceland nor anywhere else."
"Why is that?"
"Because Arne Saknussemm was persecuted for heresy, and in 1573 his books were
burned by the hands of the common hangman."
"Very good! Excellent!" cried my uncle, to the great scandal of the professor of natural
"What!" he cried.