Read Independent People by Halldór Kiljan Laxness Free Online
Book Title: Independent People|
The author of the book: Halldór Kiljan Laxness
Date of issue: February 19th 2009
ISBN 13: 9780307486264
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 7.7
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 813 KB
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Little I did I foresee that I would warm up to Bjartur, the roguish farmer, the more stubborn than a mule protagonist that Laxness chooses to construct this Icelandic epic around.
Far from the national hero the title might suggest, the reader meets a curmudgeon, an ostensibly querulous peasant who is obsessed with earning his freedom at all costs. He never indulges in kindness and expects his family to break their backs to achieve his goal: owning a farmstead and a flock of sheep that are his means towards economic emancipation, towards complete independence.
Dogs and cattle, he finds more reliable than people, his own kin included.
He distrusts politics, hates the bailiff for whom he worked eighteen years before he became master of his own estate, and mocks those who put their trust in a God he is sure doesn’t exist.
Ancient myths and legends are no concerns of his, Bjartur remains skeptical about the supernatural curse that is said to haunt the moors he intends to cultivate and ignores the advice of fellow farmers, swimming against the currents of a modern era that is slowly changing the dynamics of their rural community.
Iceland, with its eerie, rugged landscape, its glaciers, glacial rivers with black sand, volcanoes and newly formed lava fields, arises as the mute protagonist at the backdrop of Bjartur’s story.
I spent more than half of the book begrudging him the many disgraces that befell his impoverished family. Starvation, sickness, dismal working conditions in a treacherous land where nature is man’s nemesis… the harshness of life he willingly imposed on his wife and children for the sake of his dream of self-sufficiency seemed inexcusably ruthless, even cruel, to my gaping self.
But then, in the arched descend of the narration, as the echoes of WWI rage silently in the backdrop of the storytelling, Laxness works his magic and starts peeling off the layers of Bjartur’s thick skin to slowly reveal the softer tissue that constitutes his inner being. As all his belief system gradually collapses, the farmer’s mind whispers in rhymed quatrains and his heart bursts with an irresistible force that he has trouble acknowledging when his daughter Asta Sollilja, or “Beloved Sun-lily”, when his one flower, the flower of his life, is concerned. Bjartur’s fight for independence is not against the world, but against the part of himself that doesn’t want to accept that he loves, that he loves and aches deeply.
As the morose peasant surreptitiously becomes the stoic poet, everything Bjardur fought for disintegrates amidst the muddle of impending modernity, but the telluric energy that emanates from Laxness’ low-keyed, subversive prose transforms brutish reality into timeless hope; the merciless cynic into a loving father; the little boy’s dreams into an everlasting song; and the incredulous reader finally understands that the beauty of this stony-hearted but young country remains in its independent people, who cherish love in order to survive in a Godless world.
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Read information about the authorBorn Halldór Guðjónsson, he adopted the surname Laxness in honour of Laxnes in Mosfellssveit where he grew up, his family having moved from Reyjavík in 1905. He published his first novel at the age of 17, the beginning of a long literary career of over 60 books, including novels, short stories, poetry, and plays. Confirmed a Catholic in 1923, he later moved away from religion and for a long time was sympathetic to Communist politics, which is evident in his novels World Light and Independent People. In 1955 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
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