The President of Iceland, His Excellency Dr. Gudni Th. Johannesson, received on 11 May the speakers and foreign guests at an international conference held the day after by the University of Iceland on the occasion of the retirement of Hannes H. Gissurarson, Professor of Politics, who turned seventy in February. In his welcoming address, the President praised three books by the Professor, the 1992 biography of Jon Thorlaksson, an Icelandic engineer, entrepreneur and politician, a 2010 dictionary of quotations and the 2020 book on Twenty-Four Conservative-Liberal Thinkers, the first one being the Icelandic chronicler Snorri Sturluson. Indeed, the President’s residence, Bessastadir, had belonged to Snorri: it was seized by the Norwegian king in 1241, after Snorri had been assassinated as the king’s enemy. The President showed the guests around Bessastadir, including the basement where excavations are being done. He said that probably Jon Hreggvidsson, a famous protagonist in Halldor Laxness’ Iceland’s Bell, had been kept there as a prisoner when Bessastadir was the residence of the Danish governor of Iceland. In early 19th century, a school had been based at Bessastadir, and one of the pupils had been the romantic poet Jonas Hallgrimsson who had revived and purified the Icelandic language.
After the President’s reception the guests joined the annual dinner of RSE, the Icelandic Institute of Social and Economic Affairs, led by Economics Professor Ragnar Arnason and entrepreneur Heidar Gudjonsson. There, Bruce Caldwell gave a talk about his recent biography of Friedrich A. von Hayek—one of the best books of 2022 according to the Economist. The dinner was held in the new Parliament Hotel, looking out on the statue of Jon Sigurdsson in front of Parliament House, and Gudjonsson gave a toast to Jon Sigurdsson who was a true classical liberal as the excerpts from his work Gudjonsson read out clearly showed.