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Independent People

por Halldor Laxness

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaDiscussões / Menções
2,9171034,832 (4.15)3 / 445
This magnificent novel-which secured for its author the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature-is now available to contemporary American audiences. Although it is set in the early twentieth century, it recalls both Iceland's medieval epics and such classics as Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter. And if Bjartur of Summerhouses, the book's protagonist, is an ordinary sheep farmer, his flinty determination to achieve independence is genuinely heroic and, at the same time, terrifying and bleakly comic. Having spent eighteen years in humiliating servitude, Bjartur wants nothing more than to raise his flocks unbeholden to any man. But Bjartur's spirited daughter wants to live unbeholden to him. What ensues is a battle of wills that is by turns harsh and touching, elemental in its emotional intensity and intimate in its homely detail. Vast in scope and deeply rewarding, Independent People is a masterpiece.… (mais)
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Inglês (95)  Holandês (5)  Norueguês (1)  Espanhol (1)  Todas as línguas (102)
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Our book group chose [b:Independent People|77287|Independent People|Halldór Laxness|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1282892439s/77287.jpg|1391302] for rainy February's title and I tried several times to get into it without success. After about 150 pages, I was ready to concede defeat but persevered and finally started to cotton to this long, dense tale of an irascible Icelandic sheep farmer who buries two wives and numerous children and animals in his single-minded ambition to be an independent man beholden to none. Great swathes of text describe the unremitting misery of the climate and the lives of sheep and men, living and dead, as they struggle to survive. "Great is the tyranny of mankind," says Laxness, and great is the tyranny of the Classics reading list which brought this book to my attention. Yet, I admit that I liked it! The author can be wry and funny and poetic in spite of the hackneyed poetry salted throughout, the husbandry and the grim weather: "And the ceaseless rain of this inclement summer poured down upon the three little unprotected workmen of the moors...turning their headgear into a shapeless, sodden mass and running down their necks and faces in rivulets stained with the colour from their hats." Yet there is youth and beauty and love: "she was leading two spirited young thoroughbreds whose coats glistened with good feeding, glossy as silk. The sunshine and the breeze played in her golden hair, in its waves and its curls; her young bosom rose cupped above her slender waist, her arms were naked to the shoulder, her eyebrows curved in a high care-free bow. Her keen eyes reminded him both of the sky and of its hawks; her skin, radiant with the fresh bloom of youth, colour incomparable, make him think of wholesome new milk in May." (402) Bjartur, the key figure, relentlessly pursues his dream of independence realized in Summerhouses, his bought-and-paid-for plot of land after eighteen years of servitude as his family abandons him and his sheep come down with disease. And it hones to the definition of a classic as it tackles the human condition and our universal responses. My response would have been to abandon the sheep and retire with the coffee and a book while the snows blow around the croft, but these were hardier souls who need the sheep to survive. ( )
  featherbooks | May 7, 2024 |
The weather is as brutal and unforgiving as some of the characters in Halldor Laxness' arduous and earth-and-sky-bound family saga (an almost obligatory word for a review of an Icelandic novel), and both snow and intransigence make for hard lives and hard reading at times.

The ironic title foregrounds the way in which Laxness' isolated sheep crofters are unable to escape the weather and each other, as well as time and place (with one exception), limited as they are by geography, politics, disease, ignorance, distrust and delusion. Much of the time they seem free only to make bad choices, hurt one other, and suffer the ups and downs of world war or sick sheep.

The story centers on Bjartur, a stubborn, harsh and myopic crofter who attempts to assert his financial, social and political independence in the face of an inhospitable landscape, disaffected family members, economic hardship and local superstition. His daily concerns and those of his busybody neighbours and local potentates revolve around sheep worms, mythical evil spirits, Icelandic poetry, debt and ownership, and coffee and food. Shepherding is foremost in his mind, and he is a disaster as a husband and father. The plot takes several tragic turns, through which Bjartur largely plows unbowed, unrepentant and unaware of his fundamental dependence on the world around him.

If this all sounds grim, it is. However Laxness manages to bring a sardonic humour to bear on the misunderstandings, illusions and impulses of his characters that allows the reader to find a lighter perspective on these lives that allows - in some admittedly narrow crevices - for signs of hope and redemption. Not to mention his frequently lyrical writing, as translated by J. A. Thompson, and his compassion for his characters' limitations and impoverished lives. This rich and complex novel continually reminds us that our dependencies, not just our autonomies, can provide meaning and beauty:

". . . but weeping too is an independent element in the breast of man, another current, and weeping also is controlled from another world, and man is defenceless against his own tears and cannot get away and cannot get away and cannot get away"
( )
  breathslow | Jan 27, 2024 |
It deals with the struggle of poor Icelandic farmers in the early 20th century, only freed from debt bondage in the last generation, and surviving on isolated crofts in an inhospitable landscape.
Laxness won Nobel prize in Literature, in 1955.
  NordenClub | Jan 11, 2024 |
A harsh ode to sheep, the men who tend them, the women lost to those humble endeavors in remote places, and humanity's delusion of total self-reliance. ( )
1 vote dele2451 | Dec 29, 2023 |
(...)

Bjartur is of the strong, silent type, and he buries his stillborn children without tears. This is not to say there is no longing or love in these pages. The relationship between him and Asta Sollilja, Bjartur’s daughter who is not of his own blood, is touching, and a sharp portrayal of a time and a culture wherein people were ill-informed about their own psychology, reluctant to express themselves, and as a result much more lonely than they need have been.

Laxness’ naturalist novel is a triumph as it lures people in with a promising title, seemingly waving the banner of meritocracy, but slowly shows true independence does not exist, not at all, and it turns out nobody even knows what ‘freedom’ is. It all culminates in the fleeting moment Bjartur and his fellow Icelandic farmers make heaps of money because World War 1 has driven up the demand for their mutton and their wool: their success the result of other people’s misery.

(...)

Full review on Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It ( )
1 vote bormgans | Nov 28, 2023 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (65 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Laxness, Halldorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Craigmyle, AntheaArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Freeman, JohnIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Kress, BrunoTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Leithauser, BradIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Myklebost, ToneTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Nix, RobertDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Otten, MarcelTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Otten, MarcelPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Posthumus, AnnieTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Seelow, HubertPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Sigureir SigurjónssonArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Thompson, J. AndersonTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Thompson, J.A.Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
VINEA, IonTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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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.
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This magnificent novel-which secured for its author the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature-is now available to contemporary American audiences. Although it is set in the early twentieth century, it recalls both Iceland's medieval epics and such classics as Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter. And if Bjartur of Summerhouses, the book's protagonist, is an ordinary sheep farmer, his flinty determination to achieve independence is genuinely heroic and, at the same time, terrifying and bleakly comic. Having spent eighteen years in humiliating servitude, Bjartur wants nothing more than to raise his flocks unbeholden to any man. But Bjartur's spirited daughter wants to live unbeholden to him. What ensues is a battle of wills that is by turns harsh and touching, elemental in its emotional intensity and intimate in its homely detail. Vast in scope and deeply rewarding, Independent People is a masterpiece.

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