Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Onafhankelijke mensen” as Want to Read:
Onafhankelijke mensen
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Onafhankelijke mensen (Sjálfstætt fólk #1-4)

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  4,422 ratings  ·  679 reviews
This is an alternate cover edition for ISBN 9789044512779

Onafhankelijke mensen is een moderne IJslandse saga van ongewone kracht en schoonheid, waarin de bevolking van het noordelijke eiland wakker wordt geschud door de grootse beloftes van de twintigste eeuw.
Tegen de stroom in probeert de schapenboer Bjart van het Zomerhuis zijn zelfstandigheid te handhaven. Na achttien
Hardcover, De Geus Klassiek, 604 pages
Published 2008 by De Geus (first published 1934)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Feb 15, 2008 Abi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves literature
"How much can one sacrifice for the sake of one's pride? Everything, of course - if one is proud enough." - Halldór Laxness, The Atom Station, 1948

No less than the best book I have read so far in my life.
Independent People (original title: Sjálfstætt Fólk) is the tragedy of a man who is proud enough to sacrifice everything. It tells the story of Bjartur of Summerhouses, his family (especially his daughter, Ásta Sóllilja) and the 'world war' they wage against the harsh Icelandic landscape in whi
Way back when. My wife and went to our prominent local bookseller over the holidays in 2003. She asked me if I had read anything by Laxness and I adroitly responded, "who?" She bought something else and the following day I jogged down to the public library. My face burning with shame I checked this out from the stacks and returned home. I read such over two days. Jonsson the sheep farmer is everyman and he's screwed. Modernity arrives along with a nascent globalization. Never razor sharp, the fa ...more
Nov 16, 2013 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Jonathan

Everything that one has ever created achieves reality. And soon the day dawns when one finds oneself at the mercy of the reality one has created.

There is a subtle beauty in this text - an expansive desolation that plays as canvas to Laxness' protagonist Bjartur of Summerhouses creation of an independent life. Told in the early years of the 20th century on the hard-scrabble tundra of rural Iceland, the narrative follows the course of this stubborn Bjartur and his quixotic life-long quest for comp
It took me a little to do this thing with Independent People. 500 pages of itsy bitsy print: it requires a monogamous, long term commitment.’ But’, Brad Leithauser enthuses in the foreword,’ this is the book of my life. I have to reign in the suspicion I am its only ideal reader’. Hey ho, not a bad sell. Still, why? What is the book about?

‘Well, its a book about sheep’ says Leithauser. Well, for heavens sake. 500 pages about sheep, do I have it in me? I’m not Welsh after all, where the men are m
When you say the word 'culture', watch out. The traps within the simple word are many, a loving gaze on the self and a objectifying fascination with the other, idealization and discrimination two shafts of light within the same grimy crystal. Nothing conveys this truth so well and so thoroughly as literature, as many throughout the centuries bring up their utensil of inkish intent and lay down their views, all for the most part bound within their single subset of country, family, faith. Nothing ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 29, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
Shelves: 1001-core, iceland, nobel
My 109th book read this year and just the 6th time that I gave a 5-star rating.

This book truly deserves this. It feels like the Les Miserables of Iceland but the sights, smell and sound here is not the France in 19th century but the moors, the sheep, the snow of Iceland during the turn of the 20th century. Halldor Laxness (1902-1998) received the 1955 Nobel Prize for Literature and the only Icelandic author who has won this prestigious price.

The story revolves around a man called Bjartur of Sum
What does it mean being independent? Stop for a moment and think: do you consider yourself an independent person? I've never asked myself this question seriously before reading this novel, although I've always tried to preserve my freedom by sticking to a few personal guidelines: I avoid becoming a working slave; I can't keep my mouth shut when I observe injustice or stupidity; I can't keep my head down to gain favors; I can't stand being tied to a person just out of politeness.

In my view, being
I kept waiting, waiting, for Bjartur Jonsson to break from his character. Not about his politics, which were entirely pragmatic. And not about his essential philosophy, that a man must be independent and reliant on no one. But surely to his family. Surely there would be one wife or a child that would turn his soul - when one has a flower. There were moments, or more precisely near-moments. And you could read into the text, I suppose, and believe that he actually had a moment when he loved a daug ...more
Written as a pair with Pericles

Reading Smiley on the back cover of this book:

‘I can’t imagine any greater delight than coming to Independent People for the first time’ Really? I mean, REALLY????? Better than sex? Chocolate icecream??? What sort of life has Smiley lived that makes her say that. I couldn’t help thinking of this exchange on the comments of my Harry Potter review:

Brook: "I hav read every single book 14 times and i read an average of 200 books per year and have never read a better
In 874 CE a Norwegian chieftain, Ingólfr Arnarson, became the first permanent settler on the island that came to be known as Iceland. Ah, truly an independent man! One can’t help but think that Gudbjartur of Summerhouses, the dominant character in Halldor Laxness’ Independent People, would have approved of such a state of affairs. As the novel begins, Bjartur has purchased his own piece of land, after working, for eighteen years, for the Bailiff. This is, despite the measly nature of the land an ...more
This story of a man determined to be an independent smallholder raising sheep in the years before the first world war is a great book, for the right reader. As a book it has two principal obstacles to being universally enjoyed. Firstly sheep are among the most important characters and much like their human dependants, their hardy virtues are easier to admire than love. Secondly it is full of misery, worse yet, misery that is handled with irony and detachment. The simplest way of describing Indep ...more
Feb 07, 2008 Candice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of icelandic history; those who like detailed writing
Shelves: fiction, iceland
Despite the reviews below, this book is not about sheep.

Independent People is about the complex intersection of pride and poverty. It is the story of the fiercely strong and intelligent everyman who has little to show for their successes yet holds their successes with high esteem. It is also about how one's endless struggle to be self-sufficient can make one bitter, senseless, hypocritical and cold.

This book is not about sheep at all. Main character Bjartur is preoccupied with sheep because bei
Ben Winch
A while back, I entered into a discussion with the friend who recommended me this book concerning the value or otherwise of literature as an exploration of culture – ie, in the mold of Grapes of Wrath or The Tree of Man or just about anything over 400 pages that wins the Booker Prize (which is, after all, given explicitly to a book that “represents a culture”). For those who don’t grasp what I mean here by “culture”, don’t worry, I’m not sure I grasp it myself, in that any book surely represents ...more
Emily randomly picked up this book for me in Powells a few years ago, and, after seeing it on our shelf, Brian selected it for book club. I don't know if I ever would have bumped into it on my own, which makes me understand Brad Leithauser's comment in the introduction that discovering "Independent People" makes you feel supremely lucky. What are the odds of stumbling upon an almost 500-page, densely woven, Icelandic novel from the 1940s, and further, what are the odds that it would be so incred ...more
Eu teria de ler este livro, nem que fosse apenas pelo título, Gente Independente...
Há anos que "vivia" na minha estante, esperando, quem sabe, o momento certo.
Porque se existe um momento ideal para conhecermos e amarmos pessoas, acredito que também existe esse momento para os livros. Se nos cruzarmos com eles no tempo errado, corremos o risco de não os desfrutarmos em toda a sua plenitude.

Foi uma leitura maravilhosa e que me encheu a alma. Cada palavra encadeada em belas e melódicas frases que m
If you thought "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky was maddening long and depressing "Independent People" is a close runner up. It is an incredibly bleak view of rural life in Iceland concerned 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. Written in the 1930's originally in 2 volumes, it condemns materialism, the cost of the self-reliant spirit to relationsh ...more
Sheep saga
The power of Laxness's writing allows the reader to become truly immersed in the smells, sights and sounds of the world he has created and, for me at least, the smells seemed to predominate, the smell of damp wool especially. An amazing feat.
João Carlos

(David Nice - Photo)

“Gente Independente” é um romance escrito pelo islandês Halldór Hallness laureado com o Nobel da Literatura em 1955.
Um livro que narra a vida de Bjartur, um pobre agricultor islandês que tem o desejo obsessivo de manter a sua independência financeira e sentimental, de forma a nunca criar laços de afeição ou afinidades, que entravem a sua obstinação e os seus objectivos, assentes num comportamento irredutível e numa fé inquebrável.
O seu objectivo prioritário de vida é a de qu
Throughout its long history, Iceland has known periods of horrible poverty. At times, the fault was in some massive volcanic eruption. It didn't help that, for hundreds of years, the country was under the control of Denmark, that most louche of all colonial powers. Halldór Laxness, the country's only winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has in Independent People described a large swath of Iceland's history from the late 19th century to 1917 -- all from the point of view of a farmer named Gu ...more
Independent People is a story about Iceland and the limits of self-assertion. Laxness’ protagonist, Bjartur, is a hard-headed, insolent fellow, hell-bent on living life his own way. With the aim of raising a large sheep herd, he purchases a secluded tract of moorland. The land is haunted by the ghost of an old witch (Kolumkilli) whose fabled machinations symbolize the vicissitudes endemic to the island’s history. Breaking free of the subservient culture of village-life, Bjartur sets out to conqu ...more
bill greene
sort of a twentieth century Icelandic saga. so far so good although i put it down in the middle over a month ago. i will finish it however.

UPDATE: this book was amazing, one of those books that creates a whole world you live in for the time you're reading it. one of those books where, as a friend of mine says, you get sad at the end because your friends are going away now.

not that the characters are necessarily likable. one of the novel's great achievements is creating a central character (Bjart
Lucie Novak
I always buy local authors when I travel. SO I asked in a bookshop in Iceland what to buy. I am ashamed to say that I never heard of this Nobel Prize winning author!
This book, about Iceland in the first half of twentieth century was just about the most exotic book I ever read. The life of the main character, a stubborn, brave, tenacious and rather stupid ( according to author himself) Bjartur of Summerhouses, an alien creature in alien surroundings, no roads, no civilisation ,just hard work. I l
Chris Young
One of the very best books I have ever read. I came into it expecting a certain amount of social realism, and perhaps some small transportation to the bleak moors of Iceland. I got more than I bargained for. This novel is nourishing in every sense — full of poetry, humour and tragedy. One can't help but becoem entangled with the fortunes of Bjartur the shepherd and his family, as he struggles for independence from both global economics systems and the legends that haunt his land. A novel I will ...more
Last spring I saw Ann Patchett speak about her book The Story of a Happy Marriage. During her talk she told us that Independent People was one of her favorite books. My friend from The Tiny Book Club was there, so we decided to read it and see if we could figure out why. A year later we finally got to it.

For a 470 page translated novel written in the early 1930s, it is a wonder. An epic tale told in poetical prose with long descriptive passages about the beauty of Iceland and the squalor of peas
Sep 07, 2015 Cristina rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a los interesados en Islandia y sus gentes
El premio nobel islandés, Halldor Laxness nos cuenta en esta novela, ambientada a principios del siglo XX, la historia de Bjartur, un granjero hosco, rudo y terco, que solo cree en sí mismo para sobrevivir en una tierra hostil (ni cree en el fantasma del malvado Kólumkilli que presuntamente todavía habita en el valle donde se establece y a quien se atribuyen todas las desgracias que acaecen a los moradores posteriores, ni en el Dios cristiano, ni en las autoridades civiles). Bjartur personifica ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
This is such a breathtaking portrait of a character it is an instant favorite. Not to be read by people with a short attention span or a lack of care for nuance. This book really is as a slow expansive work that engulfs you into the mind and ideals of Moorish Iceland. Its a reality check for ones own pride and determination, a holding place for notions of grandeur lost. Its such an absolutely beautiful book that I felt honored to have wandered through the bleak waking hours with Bjartur. Its one ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan

I do not want to be very lengthy about this review. Let me try to present my view with an imagery.

If we can consider H. Laxness as a drawing artist, then this book can be considered as his ambitious project. For the canvas is very expansive and in it he wants to present everything to its last detail - the history of Iceland, the changing landscapes, the interesting culture with its various expressions, the traditional art forms and beliefs, and above all the ever int
a saga of rural/farming iceland. quite, tedious, grounded in the knowing that these things run in circles, and from a farmers point of view, endless circles (they hope)(see this polish farming saga . because really, what does a farmer want? to get rich quick and leave? mo. to educate all their family so they leave? no. they want it to go on and on and on, time out of mind. so i think laxness tries to give us this feeling, but also the reality that modern world is always encroaching (even if in i ...more
When I started reading this one I thought I was in for an ordeal. It starts slowly and I struggled somewhat with the Icelandic names, but once the pages started to be numbered in the three digits I found that I was held in thrall by the main character, Bjartur. I honestly detested the man and the ruinous effect his obstinacy had on the lives of the creatures that depended on him. Bjartur is by turns churlish and heroic, profane and poetic, but unfailingly fatalistic in his philosophy and tough t ...more
Hardship and frontier sagas have their own man vs. nature fan club, whose meetings I rarely attend. When you overlay the whole elemental drama with an exposition of the honest, working man’s helplessness in the face of the manipulative rich people who advance capitalism and modernity, a grim sub-genre emerges. It was done perfectly with “The Grapes of Wrath” and a guild of other page-fillers have knocked out an unnecessary pile of novels that tell similar tales ad nauseum.

Certainly, Laxness’ cr
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Angels of the Universe
  • Njal's Saga
  • Himnaríki og helvíti
  • The Blue Fox
  • History
  • The Recognition of 'Sakuntala: A Play in Seven Acts
  • بوستان سعدی
  • Grande Sertão: Veredas
  • The Old Man and His Sons
  • Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
  • The Pets
  • Canti
  • Growth of the Soil
  • The Swan
  • Gösta Berling's Saga
  • The Sound of the Mountain
  • The Dwarf
  • 101 Reykjavik
Born 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 w ...more
More about Halldór Laxness...

Other Books in the Series

Sjálfstætt fólk (3 books)
  • Frie mænd (Sjálfstætt fólk #1-2)
  • Ásta Sóllilja (Sjálfstætt fólk #3-4)
Under the Glacier Iceland's Bell The Fish Can Sing Salka Valka World Light

Share This Book

“Shortly afterwards it started raining, very innocently at first, but the sky was packed tight with cloud and gradually the drops grew bigger and heavier, until it was autumn’s dismal rain that was falling—rain that seemed to fill the entire world with its leaden beat, rain suggestive in its dreariness of everlasting waterfalls between the planets, rain that thatched the heavens with drabness and brooded oppressively over the whole countryside, like a disease, strong in the power of its flat, unvarying monotony, its smothering heaviness, its cold, unrelenting cruelty. Smoothly, smoothly it fell, over the whole shire, over the fallen marsh grass, over the troubled lake, the iron-grey gravel flats, the sombre mountain above the croft, smudging out every prospect. And the heavy, hopeless, interminable beat wormed its way into every crevice in the house, lay like a pad of cotton wool over the ears, and embraced everything, both near and far, in its compass, like an unromantic story from life itself that has no rhythm and no crescendo, no climax, but which is nevertheless overwhelming in its scope, terrifying in its significance. And at the bottom of this unfathomed ocean of teeming rain sat the little house and its one neurotic woman.” 22 likes
“This was the first time that he has ever looked into the labyrinth of the human soul. He was very far from understanding what he saw. But what was of more value, he felt and suffered with her. In years that were yet to come, he relived this memory in song, in the most beautiful song this world has known. For the understanding of the soul's defencelessness, of the conflict between the two poles, is not the source of the greatest song. The source of the greatest song is sympathy.” 13 likes
More quotes…