Independent People

Posted by Censor Librorum on Nov 4, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I am currently reading “Independent People.” It was written over 60 years ago by Halldor Laxness, an Icelandic writer. When I looked him up, I was surprised to discover he was a convert to Catholicism.

Iceland is one of the places I want to sojourn in. I have the notion it is filled with people like me: blonds with fine hair the wind whips around to glisten in the sunset light; people who love a good story; are complicated and exasperating and value strength and self-reliance. More than anything, we don’t want to be beholden to anyone. Superstitious and watchful, the hills, forests and waters we travel have haunted places of hungry and malevolent spirits out for revenge. We can feel them.

The first part of the book is set in pre-Christian times, and when Christianity is first taking hold of Iceland. We hear the story of Kolumkilli, the Irish sorcerer, and the vampire witch, Gunnvor. Generations later in the early 20th century, the man Bjartur comes to raise his sheep in their valley. He is flinty, stubborn, idiotic and has a temper that prompts disaster in his family.

This book reminds me so much of my own family it is like I am reading our story.

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