Tuesday, 2 April 2013

B is for Bjartur

Bjartur of Summerhouses is the protagonist of Icelandic Author, Halldor Laxness' book Sjálfstætt Fólk (Independent People). This was the first novel I've ever read by a Nordic author and if I wasn't already in love enough with Iceland, this pushed my obsession over the edge. 

His daughter, Asta Sollilja describes him better than I ever could: “She peeped out from under the blanket, and there he was, still sitting on the edge of his bed, when all the others had gone to sleep, mending some implement or other. No one stirred any longer, the living-room fast asleep; he alone was awake, alone was chanting, sitting there in his shirt, thickset and high-shouldered, with strong arms and tangled hair. His eyebrows were shaggy, steep and beetling like the crags in the mountain, but on his thick throat there was a soft place under the roots of his beard. She watched him awhile without his knowing: the strongest man in the world and the greatest poet, knew the answer to everything, understood all ballads, was afraid of nothing and nobody, fought all of them on a distant strand, independent and free, one against all.”
I highly recommend Independent People, the rich landscape and cultural descriptions begin on the very first page and there is nobody more equipped to introduce you to this magical country than Bjartur himself. 



  1. I'd love to see Iceland someday. Do you find the language difficult? Even if a book is in English, if they use long, ethnic words, I struggle to pronounce them in my head. I should just blow past them.

  2. Eyebrows like crags in a mountain? What a giant of an individual. Very striking descriptions - I can see why you'd highlight them.

  3. What an great unique theme! I will definitely have to check out some of these authors/books.

  4. You have a unique perspective on the type of books that you post about.....love it. I sometimes become bogged down with the "same ol', sameol'". I have copied that name and author -Independent People and when the challenge is over I will give it a go!!

    Patricia, Sugar & Spice & All Things ? Nice

  5. I hadn't really thought about the people of Iceland until my daughter, at a younger age, watched "Lazy Town." Magnús Scheving kind of gets your attention with how fit he is - of course the show is about encouraging fitness for children. It's kind of like how I tend to be more interested in Sweden now that we have an IKEA in a not-unreasonable distance. It peaks your interest if you have the exposure to a different culture, otherwise it is remote.

    The book sounds very interesting! Nice to meet you through the A to Z.

  6. Have you ever read any books by Swedish author, Par Lagerkvist? I just love his work! Thanks for introducing me to Halldor Laxness as well - I'll see what I can find!