Books: Portrait with a Purpose

INDEPENDENT PEOPLE (470 pp.)—Halldor Laxness (Translated by J. A. Thompson)—Knopf ($3).

In the dark, cold, turf-walled farmhouse, Bjartur's wife lies dead in a pool of her own blood. The fire in the stove has gone out. The oil lamp is empty. On the bed, with only a half-starved dog to warm it, lies a newborn baby.

Bjartur has been gone for days. He knew his wife's time was near, but one of his sheep was lost, so he tramped off across the moors to find it. His wife begged him to stay at home, but...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!