An underpopulated island marooned near the top of the globe, Iceland is, literally, a country in the making. It’s a vast volcanic laboratory where mighty forces shape the earth: geysers gush, mudpots gloop, ice-covered volcanoes rumble and glaciers cut great pathways through the mountains. Its supercharged splendor seems designed to remind visitors of their utter insignificance in the greater scheme of things. And it works a treat: some crisp clean air, an eyeful of the cinematic landscapes, and everyone is transfixed. Don’t for a minute think it’s all about the great outdoors. The counterpoint to so much natural beauty is found in Iceland’s cultural life, which celebrates a literary legacy from medieval sagas to contemporary thrillers.