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04.12.2023Evelyn Ýr

One of the very famous dogs in Icelandic literature is the Icelandic sheepdog Leó from the book Advent by Gunnar Gunnarsson.

The story of Benedikt's dangerous adventure with his dog Leó and the leading sheep Eitill, on their journey across the rugged wilderness of the north, is considered a masterpiece. Advent is based on the true story of Fjalla-Bensi's searching trip in December of 1925.

Benedikt sets out on a journey to the mountains in search of sheep that had not been found during the sheep round up in autumn. Benedikt is getting old, he is fifty-four. In the story, he is about to go on his twentieth and seventh search for sheep at the beginning of Advent. He starts the journey on the first Sunday of Advent and with him are his dog, Leo, and the ram Eitill. Benedikt looks upon them as his trusted friends. They are also necessary for the journey because of their sense of direction and ability to herd sheep.

Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889-1975) was one of the foremost Icelandic writers of the 20th century. No book of Gunnar's has gone as far as Advent, which has been translated into about 20 languages.

In Sarpur, the cultural historical database, I came across this interesting picture of Fjalla Bensi. It is owned by the Museum in Akureyri and I could order it from there. The picture is by Bárður Sigurðsson (1877-1937) and it comes with the following description:

"Fjalla-Bensi, Benedikt Sigurjónsson born on April 9th, 1876 on skis with a dog and sheep, in the studio of Bárður in Höfða. It is not certain whether these are the dog Leó and the lead sheep Eitill.

It's interesting to take a closer look at this picture. Much effort has been put into taking up turf and putting it on the floor so that it looks like Benedikt is standing on skis with the view of Mývatnssveit behind him. To the left, Bárður's forge can be seen and to the right, a coffin. Bárður's photo studio was also his forge in Höfða, so he earned a living in this studio, both with smithing and photography.

Reading the book Advent has become an annual tradition for many during December and I can recommend reading it now during Advent and dive deep into the adventure and view of life of Fjalla Bensi, together with his sheep dog Leó and Eitill the ram.



Lýtingsstaðir, 561 Varmahlíð.
Phone: +354 893 3817
[email protected]



Lýtingsstaðir, 561 Varmahlíð.
Phone: +354 893 3817
[email protected]