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From Independent People by Halldór Laxness (translated from Icelandic by J. A. Thompson):

Others believe that she lives much in the lake in the form of some kind of serpent or water-monster; and indeed it is on all men’s lips that a monster has now for many generations inhabited the lake and appeared to countless witnesses, who have testified to it upon oath, even those without second sight.

What does the highlighted phrase mean in this context? It seems to imply that witnesses were divided into those with second sight and those without. Was this ever common practice in Iceland? To what extent is Laxness alluding to historical or legendary events here?

Text added from author's comments which seem important in understanding the question:

'there is no mention of people having up-normal powers within the people "in the context" so it's not logic to assume that people without "specific powers" are testifying.'

'...the only witch in here is the women who turned to be the lake monster after death...other people are normal that is why they killed her'

  • @Chappo when translating this context it make no meaning when looking at it literally. it must mean something else – mami Feb 17 at 22:32
  • @Chappo of course i did before coming here...there is no mention of people having up-normal powers within the people"in the context" so it's not logic to assume that people without "specific powers" are testifying. – mami Feb 17 at 22:36
  • @Chappo Alas! It's not that simple...the only witch in here is the women who turned to be the lake monster after death...other people are normal that is why they killed her! – mami Feb 17 at 22:46
  • @GarethRees well done - it's now a useful (and interesting) question. I've withdrawn my VTC and related comments. And I should note that VTCs aren't about removing questions: the first intent is to flag that the question needs work. I think the "system" has worked well here. :-) – Chappo Feb 17 at 23:10
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    @Mami Would you please edit into the question some of your sentences from comments, the bits about logical assumptions and specific powers would be very helpful in making the thrust of your question clearer. Comments are always at risk of being deleted, so if something is important it should go in the question. if you don't get chance to do this in the next day or so, I'll have a go and you can always roll back my edits if they don't represent your query properly. Cheers – Spagirl Feb 19 at 14:19
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I'll caveat this with the fact that I have not read the work in question and I'm going to some extent off the OP, Mami's comments now edited into the question. Specifically the comment:

there is no mention of people having up-normal powers within the people"in the context" so it's not logic to assume that people without "specific powers" are testifying.

Assuming that 'up-normal' indicates 'super-natural', this makes exactly the wrong assumption. In Icelandic Folk Culture the existence in the general population of people with 'specific powers' is the default.

The Introduction of Icelandic Folktales and Legends By Jacqueline Simpson and Jón Árnason states:

From the earliest times, Icelandic sagas take for granted the existence of 'natural' psychic gifts in certain individuals, in particular second sight (both precognition and the power to 'see' invisible beings and distant events), and the ability to read omens and to 'dream true'.

Further on in 'Independent People', (at page 42 in this Google Books result) Laxness writes:

"Everybody with second sight says this place is haunted"

"I don't care a damn for people with second sight," he snorted. "Give me a man who has some control over his own senses. They go about seeing things and hearing the devil only knows what...

Again, reinforcing the fact that people with 'specific powers' are accepted to be a part of the general population and with that power not being something they control, these people are likely to be seen as distinct from 'witches' who actively use and control their powers.

There is no indication that people are in any way 'divided' by possession of second site, only that it is generally understood that the population is a mixture of those who have it and those who don't.

Therefore the passage from "Independent People" is merely indicating that the phenomena at the lake were so generally accepted and undisputed because one didn't require 'specific powers' to experience them.

  • ... well, I better not flag those comments as obsolete then, even though they're responding to a now-deleted comment :-) – Rand al'Thor Feb 18 at 16:31
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    I did copy the text of the comment to allow for it being removed. Would it be appropriate if edited that comment into the question? I think it explains what’s really behind the confusion. – Spagirl Feb 18 at 19:17
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    Editing the comments into the question sounds good to preserve them. (I would've done so myself, but I haven't read the book/question/comments in enough detail to be confident doing so.) – Rand al'Thor Feb 18 at 19:34
  • @Randal'Thor I've enshrined the comments in the question now, if you want to do a tidy up. – Spagirl Feb 21 at 10:41

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