Halldor Laxness, Nobel prize winning author of Independent People (1946).
I completed my reading of Laxness' Independent People. This post is the third of a few that highlight why I think he is a well-deserved Nobel laureate, and why his writing still matters, at least to me anyway.
Novelist Jane Smiley said "I love this book. It is an unfolding wonder...one of the
Excerpts from INDEPENDENT PEOPLE-
[regarding the life of independent people, lone workers, and what they're up against when it comes to banks, businessmen, politicians, great landowners, churchmen--thieves the whole lot of them]
"In foreign books there is a holy story that tells of a man who was fulfilled by sowing his enemy's field one night. Bjartur of
Summerhouses' story is the story of a man who sowed his enemy's field all his life, day and night. Such is the story of the most independent man in the country."
"Once again had they laid waste the lone worker's farm; they are always the same from century to century, for the simple reason that the lone worker remains the same from century to century. A war on the Continent may bring some relief, for a year or so, but it is only a seeming help, an illusion."
"The lone worker will never escape from his life of poverty for ever and ever; he will go on existing in affliction as long as man is not man's protector, but his worst enemy. The life of the lone worker, the independent man, is in its nature a flight from other men, who seek to kill him."
"From one night-lodging into another even worse. A peasant family flits, four generations of the thirty that have maintained life and death in this country [Iceland] for a thousand years--for whom? Not for themselves anyway, nor for anyone of theirs. They resembled nothing so much as fugitives in a land devastated by year after year of furious warfare; hunted outlaws--in whose land? Not in their own at least."