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Publisher's Summary

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 20th 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 18 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.

©1946 Halldór Laxness (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A huge, skaldic treat filled with satire, humor, pathos, cold weather and sheep." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Epic Totally

A crude and vulgar giant of a sheep herder in the vast North of Iceland, determined to be independent but sucked in by the struggle to be independent. it's easy to detest him. you want to scream, "Don't do that!" But he does it anyway ... over and over again. He is so blind to his stupidity that one has empathy for him.
This is a powerful story, smoothly translated, and narrated with great skill.
My life would have been less if I had not found and read this book. This book is epic.
I have not said that about a book before.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Nobel Prize - Of Course

Where does Independent People rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Independent People ranks first or second among the 200 or so books I've listened to.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The two main characters are both compelling. Both are trans-formative, both growing and maturing into new identities.

What does Michael Page bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Michael Page's narration and interpretation of the characters was splendid and expert. It was like listening to a play and he was playing all the parts and all were presented uniquley.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

This book should be consumed slowly and thoughtfully over time. It is not a piece of pulp fiction to chew up in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

Independent People can be a complex read. There are elements of description that seem overdone and unnecessary at times but the reward comes from the ultimate knitting together of compelling scenes and powerful characterizations. Well worth spending the time.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Insight into Iceland's Culture and History

Great narration, compelling story. A bit depressing but also an insightful glimpse into Icelandic culture and history.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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long but beautiful

If you can stick with it for the full 20 hours you will find that this book has a lot going on. at once humorous and yet deeply moving. I'd recommend

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • DWR
  • Minnesota, USA
  • 09-21-17

How one man can make many so miserable...

Nowadays the main character, Bjartur would be diagnosed as a Sociopath; self-righteous, egotistical and with no conscience. He is so self centered that he makes the lives of those close to him miserable. Of course in the end--out of character--he shows some compassion; but one wonders if this is probably self-serving too.

So from the point of view that he is a memorable character, I assume that is the reason the book has been given rave reviews and awards. But for me it was arduous to get through.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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bleak and resilient

the main character was extremely difficult to swallow. Yet you couldn't help but admire his boldness and his independence. the reindeer scene! beautiful blend of mysticism, superstition, realism, strength, hardship, mule headed Independence. the scene with the youngest son imagining the kitchen implements as live characters was splendid. probably the most memorable scene was the Slaughter of the ewe

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Don't waste your money!

If you do waste your money buying this book then you definitely want to skip the first whole chapter as it is a complete summary of the book. If you listen to that chapter you don't even need to listen to the book.

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Narrator deserves better.

This book won a Pulitzer?! What is happening? How could this possibly have one of Pulitzer? OK, but I digress. I won’t give spoilers by re-telling the plot because there is none. Setting is Iceland, there are characters who eat, sleep and die, the end. If the reader had not been so good there’s no way I could have listened to the end.
I think there must’ve been a trend in the 50s to get away from Classic Literature and stories. This is a more a collection of people’s thoughts And while this gives nice insight into the characters and the human condition in that place and time, its hardly (to me) prize worthy. Perhaps you “had to be there” but I wasn’t there during Shakespeare, Dickens, Poe, Austin or many other’s lifetimes and they hold up.

So i can check this off my list but cant say I’d be sorry if I’d never read it. I do not recommend unless it’s free.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful