As you read “Independent People,” it is impossible to not be impressed with Laxness’ incredible use of language and imagery, which holds true even in translation. I hold up the following passage from the J.A. Thompson translation where Bjartur of Summerhouses lays out his philosophy of life for the visitors to his humble turfhouse.
“…Bjartur wanted it to appear that his hospitality was a very minor issue. “The chief point,” he said, “and the point towards which I have always directed my course, is independence. And a man is always independent if the hut he lives in is his own. Whether he lives or dies is his concern, and his only. Otherwise, I maintain, one cannot be independent. This desire for freedom runs in a man’s blood, as anybody who has been servant to another understands.”
While this philosophy is the underpinning of Bjartur’s life at Summerhouses, I wonder if our ancestors who made the trip from Iceland to America to find their new lives in a new land would wholeheartedly understand Bjartur’s sentiment and be in complete agreement.
What passages from the novel stand out for you?