In the summer of 1627, Barbary corsairs raided Iceland, killing dozens of people and abducting close to 400 to sell into slavery in Algiers. Among those taken was the Lutheran minister Reverend Olafur Egilsson.
Reverend Olafur wrote The Travels to chronicle his experiences both as a captive and as a traveler across Europe (he journeyed alone from Algiers to Copenhagen in an attempt to raise funds to ransom the Icelandic captives who remained behind). He was a keen observer, and the narrative is filled with a wealth of detail - social, political, economic, religious - about both the Maghreb and Europe. It is also a moving story on the human level: we witness a man enduring great personal tragedy and struggling to reconcile such calamity with his understanding of God.
The Travels is the first-ever English translation of the Icelandic text. Until now, the corsair raid on Iceland has remained largely unknown in the English-speaking world.
"It is wonderful that finally two scholars have taken the initiative to translate into English this important text." (Kirsten Wolf, University of Wisconsin-Madison)