Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Danish Invasion

When I heard that a record nine titles by Danish authors are to be published in English translation this year or early next, I began to list the Danish authors I had read already. But there was only one: Kierkegaard. No, I've not read Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow. But one of those nine is a new one by Peter Høeg. Four of the remaining eight novelists - Leif Davidsen, Christian Jungersen, Morten Ramsland and Janne Teller - are to make a brief tour of Britain from the 22nd of May. You can see the details on the Book Depository's Editor's Corner.

I hope, among the nine, there is something unusual, something unique. I would so like to point to a novel and say: this is it, this is the real thing. This blog has been quiet lately because I haven't been able to find the words to express how extremely I have felt recently about the way novels are written. How disjunctive to experience they seem; how novelistic; the work of craftsmen and showmen rather than mortals. And I don't mean that they're unrealistic. All genres, including supposedly literary fiction, seem to take for granted the space opened up by writing. Narrative as relief from the insufferable void of experience is indulged, celebrated even. To me, instead, it is a manifestation of despair.

Coincidentally, said Danish writer, the only one I've read so far, expressed such an opinion about the disjunction between life and writing and what it meant for authorship.
It is not improbable that the lives of many men go on in such a way that they have indeed premises for living but reach no conclusions. Such a man's life goes on till death comes and puts an end to life, but without bringing with it an end in the sense of a conclusion. For it is one thing that life is over, and a different thing that a life is finished by reaching a conclusion. In the degree that such a man has talents he can go ahead and become an author, as he understands it. But such an understanding is an illusion. For that matter [...] he may have extraordinary talents and remarkable learning, but an author he is not, in spite of the fact that he produces books. [...] No, in spite of the fact that the man writes, he is not essentially an author; he will be capable of writing the first and also the second part, but he cannot write the third part – the last part he cannot write. If he goes ahead naively (led astray by the reflection that every book must have a last part) and so writes the last part, he will make it thoroughly clear by writing the last part that he makes a written renunciation to all claim to be an author. For though it is indeed by writing that one justifies the claim to be an author, it is also, strangely enough, by writing that one virtually renounces this claim.
Later, he concludes that "to find the conclusion it is necessary first of all to observe that it is lacking, and then in turn to feel quite vividly the lack of it."

I should admit that there is a novel published this month to which I can say: this is it, although it happens not to be Danish. I'm pleased to say it observes the lack. But that'll have to wait until I find the words.


  1. Anonymous9:37 pm

    "I should admit that there is a novel published this month to which I can say: this is it, although it happens not to be Danish."

    Eager to know which book you're talking about.ilvsahb

  2. I'm writing a review of it at the moment. Will appear on RSB eventually.

  3. Anonymous11:08 pm

    Is it dubbed or does it have subtitles?



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