October 14 | Independent People by Halldór Laxness
A bleak landscape, cold weather, a stubborn sheep farmer and lots of sheep might not seem like the stuff of great literature, but Iceland’s Halldór Laxness, winner of the 1955 Nobel Prize for Literature, made of them a masterpiece.
When: Six weekly sessions on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, starting October 14, 2021
Duration: 2 hours per session.
Cost: C$350 plus 13% HST (approx. US$281 plus 13% HST)
Group Size: 12-participant limit
How: We meet on Zoom; you will receive joining instructions approx. 3 weeks before the seminar start date. For your privacy, all our Zoom seminars are password-protected and are never recorded. See full conditions at the bottom of this page.
All seminar payments are nonrefundable. All discount codes must be used at time of purchase. If you would like to apply your Toronto Pursuits 2020 deposit to this seminar, please contact us.
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Mark Cwik is the education manager for Classical Pursuits. He is a longtime Toronto Pursuits seminar leader and has led two Classical Pursuits trips to Iceland. He specializes in literature from the ancient, mythic and religious world. His recent online seminars include Vergil’s Aeneid, the Book of Genesis, Homer’s Odyssey, and the Sagas of Icelanders. Mark lives in London, England, where he also leads seminars with the London Literary Salon. Iceland and big books are high on his list of favorite things.
Independent People, by Halldór Laxness, translated by J.A. Thompson
(1st Vintage International Edition, 1997)
Please be sure to obtain this edition.
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A bleak landscape, cold weather, a stubborn sheep farmer and lots of sheep might not seem like the stuff of great literature, but Iceland’s Halldór Laxness (1902 – 1998) made of them a masterpiece.
Independent People tells the story of the proud and obstinate sheep farmer Bjartur of Summerhouses. After 18 years in service to the local bailiff, Bjartur has finally saved enough money to start his own farm. Bjartur’s new home is little more than a turf hovel; to Bjartur, it is a castle – because it is his.
Bjartur is a man as harsh as the Icelandic landscape, possessed by a fierce determination to live free of debt to man or God. His brutal and ferocious drive for self-sufficiency is at odds with a way of life and an unyielding climate where interdependence is the only means of survival. Wives, children, and friends fall victim to Bjartur’s ruthless obsession.
What seems as if it might be a cheerless tale instead runs rich with warmth and sly humor. Never flinching from the cruel austerity of his protagonist, Laxness crafts a poetic, deeply felt, and moving epic on the scale of a Melville or Cervantes.
Independent People secured for Laxness the 1955 Nobel Prize for Literature and established him as the undisputed master of modern Icelandic fiction. Published in Icelandic in 1935, it was first translated to English in 1946 but was out of print and unknown to most English-speaking readers for the next half-century. Much like Iceland itself, only in recent years have the grandeur and beauty of Independent People been rediscovered by the outside world.
All online seminar payments are nonrefundable. All discount codes must be used at the time of purchase; no retroactive discounts will be issued.
Classical Pursuits does not record seminars. By participating in any seminar, registrants agree not to make their own seminar recordings and to abide by the Classical Pursuits code of conduct.
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Standard registration, Toronto Pursuits 2020 credit