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Independent People by Halldor Laxness

Independent People

by Halldor Laxness

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,057664,683 (4.2)3 / 388
Recently added byCesar_Zgz, Bodoni, private library, Omdetdar, jlford3, valentinbru, wpotash, alcantararj, harmen, CassandraT
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    The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (thorold)
    thorold: Icelandic peasants to English house painters might not be such an obvious leap, but these two books, one artful and structured, the other naive and direct, both do a great job of showing us capitalism from the bottom.
  3. 00
    The Emigrants by Vilhelm Moberg (harmen)
    harmen: Similar setting and themes.
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    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (rwjerome)
    rwjerome: These books share surprisingly similar main characters who both experience extreme misfortune. Interestingly enough, both books also showcase slightly misplaced political overtones.
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English (61)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (65)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Finished this book set in Iceland. A story of the struggling Icelandic people who were self standing people. I think what I appreciated most about his book is the way it captured the Scandinavian way. It is a story set in the early years of the 20th century and is epic and it reminded me a lot of Hamson's Growth of Soil. The stubbornness and stoicism is so accurately depicted and being Scandinavian and married to a Scandinavian, this book rang so true. It also touches on the Saga's which I have heard about and so that was also interesting and the descriptions of Christianity in this isolated country of Iceland and it's peasant people was another aspect of the book that I found interesting. ( )
  Kristelh | Aug 5, 2018 |
Amazing, engaging epic. It both broke and healed my heart. ( )
  FoxTribeMama | Aug 26, 2017 |
Wow, it’s one of those books that you don’t want to end, want it to go on and on. It is the story of Bjartur of Summerhouses, a man of the moors, sheep and ancient Icelandic poetry. Set around 1900, Bjartur of Summerhouses and his family struggle to make their small croft thrive, through Iceland’s harsh winters, personal tragedies and the desire to be independent, free people.

I absolutely loved it and have already added more of Halldór Laxness’ books to my reading list. Top notch, I recommend it. ( )
  RonTyler | Aug 11, 2017 |
Complex, multi-faceted, difficult to get along with, Independent People is all of these and more. At its heart is Bjartur, a sheep farmer at the turn of the century determined, after years of servitude to be completely independent. His determination to overcome every obstacle without becoming beholden to anyone gives him an indomitable will to overcome all that fate - and the harsh Icelandic climate - can throw at him. The cost, however, is enormous as he himself becomes ever harsher, resulting in the loss of his family one by one. And eventually he is undone by his inability to navigate the snares of prosperity and loses his farm when he cannot repay a loan.
If this is the dominant thread, there are many others: his relationship with his daughter, his love of traditional Icelandic poetry, the transformation of rural Icelandic society are all fascinating sub threads. It has that rare virtue of being a novel that grows the more you contemplate it. 17 June 2017. ( )
1 vote alanca | Jun 26, 2017 |
This was a strange book for me. It took me so long to read it. I spent months picking it up and making it through a few pages. I felt bored and like it was dragging on forever with no likeable characters. But once I was finished and I was trying to describe the book to someone else, I realized that I loved so many lines from the writing. The author has a way of describing things that feels so visceral. I didn't love the book or the reading experience, but in the end I felt like I got a real taste for Icelandic life during that time period. The stubborn main character who was continually creating his own doom by refusing to overcome his pride will stay with me as well. His daughter, who never learned from her father's mistakes was a wonderful reminder that we are continue to repeat the failings of our parents if we don't change ourselves.

BOTTOM LINE: An exhausting but memorable read.

"It's a useful habit never to believe more than half of what people tell you, and not to concern yourself with the rest. Rather keep your mind free and your path your own."

"Presently the smell of coffee begin to fill the room. This was morning's hallowed moment. In such a fragrance the perversity of the world is forgotten and the soul is inspired with faith in the future; when all was said and done, it was probably true that there really were far-off places, even foreign countries."

"When anyone grows very old he becomes like a little baby again." "And dies?" asked the boy.
It was a string in his breast that snapped, one of those delicate childhood strings which break before one has had time to realize that they are capable of sounding; and these strings sound no more; henceforth they are only a memory of incredible days.
"We all die."

"The tyranny of mankind; it was like the obstinate drip of water falling on a stone and hollowing it little by little; and this drip continued, falling obstinately, falling without pause on the souls of the children."

"No, old woman, a man is never so wholly destitute but that good fortune will not favor him with one more smile before he dies."

"This was the first time that he had ever looked into the labyrinth of the human soul. He was far from understanding what he saw. But what was of more value, he felt and suffered with her."

"Never was the smoke so thick or so blue, never did it penetrate the eyes, the nose, the throat, the lungs so deeply that it could be forgotten as the precursor of that fragrance which fills the soul with optimism and faith, the fragrance of the crushed beans beneath the jet of boiling water curving from the kettle, the smell of coffee."

"When one is unmarried, one must tell people to shut up in roundabout fashion." ( )
  bookworm12 | May 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Halldor Laxnessprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craigmyle, AntheaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kress, BrunoÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leithauser, BradIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leithauser, BretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Myklebost, ToneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nix, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Otten, MarcelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seelow, HubertAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sigureir SigurjónssonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, J.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In early times, say the Icelandic chronicles, men from the Western Islands came to live in this country, and when they departed, left behind them crosses, bells, and other objects used in the practice of sorcery.
The history of the centuries in this valley is the history of an independent man who grapples barehanded with a spectre which bears a new and ever a newer name. Sometimes the spectre is some half-divine fiend who lays a curse on his land. Sometimes it breaks his bones in the guise of a norn. Sometimes it destroys his croft in the form of a monster. And yet, always, to all eternity, it is the same spectre assailing the same century after century.
"No," he said defiantly.
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In an epic set in Iceland in the early twentieth century, Gudbjartur Jonsson buys his own croft after eighteen years of service to the local bailiff, and brings his wife and his small flock of sheep there to build a new, independent life for himself.

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