First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover was inspired by the This magnificent novel – which secured its author the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature – is at last available to contemporary American readers. 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.
Prior to August 2020, I have never heard of Halldór Laxness or any of his works. Everything changed when I encountered some of his works through an online bookseller. Due to curiosity, I researched more about him and I learned that he won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Literature (wow!). This was enough to pique my interest so I immediately reserved a copy of two of his works; I was lucky that I was the quickest to reserve these books.
Now comes October. It’s been a very slow reading month because I have been swamped with work these past four or five months. However, I managed to dedicate some time reading books. To keep my October reading month pattern, I’ve decided to read Halldór Laxness’ Independent People, which, I have learned later on, was listed as one of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. This further intensified my interest in the book.
Apart from being my first book written by Halldór Laxness, Independent People is also going to be my first book written by an Icelandic author. It relates the story of Guðbjartur Jónsson, generally referred to in the novel as Bjartur of Summerhouses. The story started with Bjartur finally walking free from his former employer who he worked for as a shepherd for eighteen years. He finally bought his own piece of land where he raised his family and his own sheep farm.
I like how Laxness integrated parts of Icelandic folklore and tales into the narrative. He painted a different yet equally idyllic picture of the country beyond the ice caps and the volcanoes it is known for. It enriched the story of Bjartur, further filling it with enchantment and wonder. It is one of the facets of the novel that I look forward more to as I am barely a hundred pages in.
The book’s title and some of the earlier interactions and conversations already gave me an inkling on how the story will progress. It revolves around independence but I am interested on how Laxness will translate this theme into the story of Bjartur. It seems that the story have some political themes as well. With the themes it revolves on, and reading some reviews of the book, the book reminded me of Robert Tressell’s The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists.
Independent People is rather a very verbose narrative and it is taking me some time to make some significant progress. I hope I get to complete reading it over the weekend! How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!