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Frie mænd

af Halldor Laxness

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MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler / Omtaler
2,8701014,853 (4.15)3 / 444
Om en islandsk fæstebondes håbløse higen efter at blive en fri og selvstændig mand.
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Engelsk (93)  Hollandsk (5)  Norsk (1)  Spansk (1)  Alle sprog (100)
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The weather is as brutal and unforgiving as some of the characters in Halldor Laxness' arduous and earth-and-sky-bound family saga (an almost obligatory word for a review of an Icelandic novel), and both snow and intransigence make for hard lives and hard reading at times.

The ironic title foregrounds the way in which Laxness' isolated sheep crofters are unable to escape the weather and each other, as well as time and place (with one exception), limited as they are by geography, politics, disease, ignorance, distrust and delusion. Much of the time they seem free only to make bad choices, hurt one other, and suffer the ups and downs of world war or sick sheep.

The story centers on Bjartur, a stubborn, harsh and myopic crofter who attempts to assert his financial, social and political independence in the face of an inhospitable landscape, disaffected family members, economic hardship and local superstition. His daily concerns and those of his busybody neighbours and local potentates revolve around sheep worms, mythical evil spirits, Icelandic poetry, debt and ownership, and coffee and food. Shepherding is foremost in his mind, and he is a disaster as a husband and father. The plot takes several tragic turns, through which Bjartur largely plows unbowed, unrepentant and unaware of his fundamental dependence on the world around him.

If this all sounds grim, it is. However Laxness manages to bring a sardonic humour to bear on the misunderstandings, illusions and impulses of his characters that allows the reader to find a lighter perspective on these lives that allows - in some admittedly narrow crevices - for signs of hope and redemption. Not to mention his frequently lyrical writing, as translated by J. A. Thompson, and his compassion for his characters' limitations and impoverished lives. This rich and complex novel continually reminds us that our dependencies, not just our autonomies, can provide meaning and beauty:

". . . but weeping too is an independent element in the breast of man, another current, and weeping also is controlled from another world, and man is defenceless against his own tears and cannot get away and cannot get away and cannot get away"
( )
  breathslow | Jan 27, 2024 |
It deals 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.
Laxness won Nobel prize in Literature, in 1955.
  NordenClub | Jan 11, 2024 |
A harsh ode to sheep, the men who tend them, the women lost to those humble endeavors in remote places, and humanity's delusion of total self-reliance. ( )
1 stem dele2451 | Dec 29, 2023 |

Bjartur is of the strong, silent type, and he buries his stillborn children without tears. This is not to say there is no longing or love in these pages. The relationship between him and Asta Sollilja, Bjartur’s daughter who is not of his own blood, is touching, and a sharp portrayal of a time and a culture wherein people were ill-informed about their own psychology, reluctant to express themselves, and as a result much more lonely than they need have been.

Laxness’ naturalist novel is a triumph as it lures people in with a promising title, seemingly waving the banner of meritocracy, but slowly shows true independence does not exist, not at all, and it turns out nobody even knows what ‘freedom’ is. It all culminates in the fleeting moment Bjartur and his fellow Icelandic farmers make heaps of money because World War 1 has driven up the demand for their mutton and their wool: their success the result of other people’s misery.


Full review on Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It ( )
1 stem bormgans | Nov 28, 2023 |
Read as a prep for the Iceland Writers Retreat April 2017. This book won the Nobel prize in literature. It's thick, meaty, filled with philosophical discussions about being independent. It gives a picture of the Icelandic people that also shows through in their "lighter" fiction.
The writing is dense but involving. I felt the harshness of life in the croft, the bitterness of the man struggling to be independent and losing his family on the way- the tension between independence and selfishness is strong. Well worth a read, but keep mood lighteners nearby. Reading it in winter, especially over the solstice, will help place you in the croft with the starving farmers. Bring coffee. ( )
1 stem Dabble58 | Nov 11, 2023 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (65 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Laxness, Halldorprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Craigmyle, AntheaOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Freeman, JohnIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Kress, BrunoOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Leithauser, BradIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Myklebost, ToneOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Nix, RobertOmslagsdesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Otten, MarcelOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Otten, MarcelEfterskriftmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Posthumus, AnnieOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Seelow, HubertEfterskriftmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Sigureir SigurjónssonOmslagsfotograf/tegner/...medforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Thompson, J. AndersonOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Thompson, J.A.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
VINEA, IonOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Om en islandsk fæstebondes håbløse higen efter at blive en fri og selvstændig mand.

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