Doktor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg (continued)

Easy five stars.

A book which reassures me that Swedish writing CAN be good! Never mind the bizarre fad at the moment with badly written Swedish crime/thrillers/procedurals, this book is perfect. Existential before existentialism. Economical of language. Economical of story. The very antithesis of the Stieg and Camilla school of describing a sandwich the long way. I am further reassured that Swedish writing can be successfully translated – ie that the short-comings of Stieg and Camilla in English are not those of the translator.

In a first for novels for me, it begged to be read aloud. I suppose one could argue this was influenced by having seen the stage version in London a while back. But surely it had also to do with the structure – what made it such a slam dunk for the theatre is what made it enticing to read aloud. It is a monologue, rare for a novel. Read this aloud and you are Glas, that lonely, fucked-up individual. You find yourself rationalising murder, descending into the places to which that act perforce takes you. You dream his nightmares, share his breath. And I suppose the bleakness inside you never becomes tears because it does not for him. Splendid.

Recommended for: Anybody who loves Frisch and Durrenmatt, for example, as well as Camus and the non-Maigret Simenon books will love this.

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3 thoughts on “Doktor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg (continued)

  1. Okay, I am curious… I will read this in Swedish and then see if I agree about the translation. Though first I think I need to read at least one of the three Swedish novels currently sitting on the shelf…

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