Independent People

Independent People

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Independent People (IcelandicSjálfstætt fólk) is an epic novel by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, originally published in two volumes in 1934 and 1935; literally the title means “Self-standing [i.e. self-reliant] folk”. 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.

The novel is considered among the foremost examples of social realism in Icelandic fiction in the 1930s. It is an indictment of materialism, the cost of the self-reliant spirit to relationships, and capitalism itself. This book, along with several other major novels, helped Laxness win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955.

Independent People
AuthorHalldór Laxness
Original titleSjálfstætt fólk
TranslatorJ. A. Thompson
PublisherVintage Books
Publication date1934 (Part I), 1935 (Part II)
Published in English1945
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages544 pp (first English edition)
Dewey Decimal839/.6934 20
LC ClassPT7511.L3 S52313 1997

Independent People (IcelandicSjálfstætt fólk) is an epic novel by Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, originally published in two volumes in 1934 and 1935; literally the title means “Self-standing [i.e. self-reliant] folk”. 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.

The novel is considered among the foremost examples of social realism in Icelandic fiction in the 1930s. It is an indictment of materialism, the cost of the self-reliant spirit to relationships, and capitalism itself. This book, along with several other major novels, helped Laxness win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1955.

Plot summary

Independent People is the story of the sheep farmer Guðbjartur Jónsson, generally known in the novel as Bjartur of Summerhouses, and his struggle for independence.

The “first chapter summons up the days when the world was first settled, in 874 AD—for that is the year when the Norsemen arrived in Iceland, and one of the book’s wry conceits is that no other world but Iceland exists. … The book is set in the early decades of the twentieth century but … Independent People is a pointedly timeless tale. It reminds us that life on an Icelandic croft had scarcely altered over a millennium”.As the story begins, Bjartur (“bright” or “fair”) has recently managed to put down the first payment on his own farm, after eighteen years working as a shepherd at Útirauðsmýri, the home of the well-to-do local bailiff, a man he detests. The land that he buys is said to be cursed by Saint Columba, referred to as “the fiend Kolumkilli”,and haunted by an evil woman named Gunnvör, who made a pact with Kólumkilli.

Defiantly, Bjartur refuses to add a stone to Gunnvör’s cairn to appease her, and in his optimism also changes the name of the farm from Winterhouses to Summerhouses. He is also newly wed to a young woman called Rósa, a fellow worker at Rauðsmýri, and is determined that they should live as independent people.

However, Rósa is miserable in her new home, which does not compare well to the luxury she was used to at Rauðsmýri. Bjartur also discovers that she is pregnant by Ingólfur Arnarson Jónsson, the son of the bailiff. In the autumn, Bjartur and the other men of the district ride up into the mountains on the annual sheep round-up, leaving Rósa behind with a gimmer to keep her company. Terrified by a storm one night, desperate for meat and convinced that the gimmer is possessed by the devil, Rósa kills and eats the animal.

When Bjartur returns, he assumes that Rósa has set the animal loose. When he cannot find her when it comes time to put the sheep inside for the winter, he once more leaves his wife, by now heavily pregnant, to search the mountains for the gimmer. He is delayed by a blizzard, and nearly dies of exposure. On his return to Summerhouses he finds that Rósa has died in childbirth. His dog Titla is curled around the baby girl, still clinging to life due to the warmth of the dog. With help from Rauðsmýri, the child survives; Bjartur decides to raise her as his daughter, and names her Ásta Sóllilja (“beloved sun lily”).

The narrative begins again almost thirteen years later. Bjartur is now remarried to a woman who had been a charity case on the parish, Finna. The other new inhabitants are Hallbera, Finna’s mother, and the three surviving sons of Bjartur’s second marriage: Helgi, Gvendur (Guðmundur) and Nonni (Jón).

The rest of the novel charts the drudgery and the battle for survival of life in Summerhouses, the misery, dreams and rebellions of the inhabitants and what appears to be the curse of Summerhouses taking effect. In the middle of the novel, however, World War I commences and the prices for Icelandic mutton and wool soar, so that even the poorest farmers begin to dream of relief from their poverty. Particularly central is the relationship between Bjartur and Ásta Sóllilja.


The most important theme of the novel is independence, what it means and what it is worth giving up in order to achieve it. Bjartur is a stubborn man, often callous to the point of cruelty in his refusal to swerve from his ideals. Though undoubtedly a principled man, his attitude leads to the death and alienation of those around him.

There are strong economic themes, a discussion of the co-operative movement in Iceland and the exploitation of crofters like Bjartur by Danish merchants and rich Icelanders like Jón the Bailiff.

Independent People also reveals Laxness’s anti-war leanings in a chapter that depicts Icelandic farmers sitting around talking about the economic benefits of the Great War.

The ancient Icelandic sagas and Icelandic folklore are still alive in the stories and fables that the characters live with on a daily basis. The imaginations of the characters are inhabited by elves, ghosts and demons. Bjartur is also a talented poet, a living embodiment of the great oral tradition of the sagas.

“The author’s ironical appraisal is already expressed in the title of the novel, and also in the titles of some of the chapters … : “Free of Debt”, “Years of Prosperity”.


The popular Icelandic poet Hulda wrote the two-volume novel, Dalafólk (People of the Valleys) as a reaction to Independent People. In contrast to Laxness’ bleak view of rural life in Iceland, Hulda presents a somewhat idealized picture of the old manorlike farmsteads.[6]

In her review of the 1997 Vintage International reissue of the novel, Annie Dillard wrote, “The greatest Scandinavians’ work shows opposing strains of lyricism and naturalism… Independent People fits the dual bill: it is a mythic tale — cum Marx.”

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Every wedding day, similar to baptism, first communion, birthdays, graduations, New Year’s Eve, yet others, will embrace family included in the celebration. Despite their amazing magnificence, Colombian mail purchase brides have some truly distinctive features they’re pleased with. They often go to great extent to take a look attractive. They have a sensual body-color with suntan or olive skin containing at all times attracted foreign males.

When choosing a companion for life, they are searching for a powerful and trustworthy guy that they will all the time rely on. The majority of ladies want their life partner to get clever, mild, type, very good, and attentive. These young ladies are at most times open to a man who may be looking for serious relationships and is also able to create a household. Colombians are additionally happy to satisfy a person from one additional nation provided that they are adoring and care. There are lots of matrimonial corporations on the Net that assist in assembly Colombian mail-order brides.

In Republic of colombia, in all spots you look covers a wonderful child or two. Intensity and ApproachYou will discover that everything a Colombian woman does is with a enthusiasm. This love is present in their blood and may always shine forth. She will love you using a passion unparalleled by anybody else. Their GenesLatina America hosts some of the greatest family genes this world has to offer. Due to the support of range, there was distilling of a availablility of the finest attributes from each of the cultures readily available.

Colombian young women have a really robust perception of along with maintain to their conventional ideals during which relationship, religion, and family are incredibly important. They may be anticipated to marry at a youthful period then the majority of within the created world. One more high quality that Colombian young girls possess is they know what can be important in life. Almost nothing compares to home and they consider that no money should buy what is battling and constant in a marriage with a person. Learn some details about the nation, a girl from which you want to meet right here. This kind of data will allow you to be satisfied which you have chosen and truly feel extra assured.

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What it means is that spectacular Colombian women are very liable for the selections they make and are serious about regardless of they do or say. If perhaps they make a range, they will not sorrow it or perhaps take this again, as a result of they very proud and believe this is sometimes a big a part of respecting your self simply because an individual.

A Colombian woman will gladly inform about her homeland and family unit. You will probably be supplied a paid registration, so make an effort the charges.

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At least those that chose to consider this step tend not to regret it and from now on have a harmonious relationship with a Columbian lady. Women of all ages from Colombia are also and so enticing throughout they give the impression penalized rejuvenating and have an extremely feminine atmosphere. Colombian females attach wonderful importance to their look.

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Many of these tales most probably finish well at marriage. Thus, you’ll be very happy to discover such things. Is time to acquaint yourself with one of the best online relationship companies and dating websites.

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I terminated the opposite conferences because I actually have had such a good time along with her. She has a personality for me than I had shaped hoped for. She is very specialist, extroverted and stuffed with problems. I have not attempted to impress her, with a thing, especially stuff I actually have got at property or extravagant eating places, golf clubs and so on. She’s just as pleased to sit on the balcony beside me and cool off or whenever we go to the beach. I like to know the maximum but the excess weight on paper basically isn’t a great indication for the woman’s entire body. I even have personally fulfilled women that should be a on the lookout for or 10 in a photo and HAHAHA wouldn’t make a good 5.