Monday, September 28, 2009

Independent People

I am finally finishing up this amazing novel by the Icelandic Nobel Prize winner, Halldor Laxness.  Written in 1946, this book was out of print for many years, but is available through Vintage Press.  The novel chronicles the life of an ordinary sheep farmer, Bjartur of Summerhouses and his determination to achieve independence and not be beholden to any man.  However, his spirited daughter, Asta Sollija wants to live unbeholden to him.  They live a minimal life in a croft, without money and few possessions.  The whole book is full of heroic deeds, tragedy and an emotional intensity that is described with beautiful poetry.  For instance:

....a cold shiver of joy passed through her at the thought of being fortunate enough to stand of the eastern margin of the moors and see where the land ends and the ocean begins, the sea of the world.....she might well have known that this was the very ocean over which young heroes sailed to win fame in the Rhymes; far, far across this mighty sea lay the lands of adventure.  To her had been given the good fortune of looking upon the sea that swirls about the lands of romance; the road to the incredible.

Halldor Laxness, Independent People


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