The Copenhagen trilogy Childhood, Youth, Dependency

Tove Irma Margit Ditlevsen, 1917-1976

Book - 2021

"Tove Ditlevsen's autobiographical trilogy about her troubled life in Copenhagen"--

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BIOGRAPHY/Ditlevsen, Tove Irma Margit
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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor BIOGRAPHY/Ditlevsen, Tove Irma Margit Due Jun 4, 2022
2nd Floor BIOGRAPHY/Ditlevsen, Tove Irma Margit Due Jun 1, 2022
2nd Floor BIOGRAPHY/Ditlevsen, Tove Irma Margit Due May 24, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Published
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2021.
Edition
First American edition
Language
English
Danish
Item Description
"Single-volume trilogy first published in 2020 by Penguin Random House, Great Britain"
Physical Description
370 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780374602390
0374602395
Main Author
Tove Irma Margit Ditlevsen, 1917-1976 (author)
Other Authors
Tiina Nunnally, 1952- (translator), Michael (Michael Favala) Goldman (-)
  • Childhood
  • Youth
  • Dependency.
Review by Booklist Reviews

The three memoirs by Danish poet Ditlevsen, originally published between 1967 and 1971, are here gathered into a single volume, and cover in merciless detail her life from childhood in the 1920s in a working class neighborhood of Copenhagen on through the early years of her fourth marriage. Obsessed with writing poetry and fiction from her earliest years, and continually torn between living a "normal" life as a wife and mother and being a working writer, she married a magazine publisher 35 years her senior when she was 18, and went on to marry and divorce three more times. With a determined refusal of sentimentality, she describes a horrifying backstreet abortion and the even more dreadful period of years when she became addicted to Demerol and other drugs, enabled by her sleazy third husband. By the time the third memoir ends, this addiction persists, and in fact contributed to her death by suicide in 1976. Readers will find her ruthless self-scrutiny both admirable and shocking.Women in Focus: The 19th in 2020 Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

This astounding trio of memoirs by Ditlevsen (1917–1976) comprises three pivotal periods in the writer's life. Childhood covers the author's darkly humorous disclosures on her misfit nature and the "chaos of anger, sorrow, and compassion" instilled by her mother as she struggled to become a poet despite growing up poor. In Youth, Tove celebrates the publication of her poetry and regrets several divorces. Dependency tracks her turbulent adulthood, accented by pregnancies and periods of feverish, prolific writing yet marred by a backroom abortion and a third marriage to a physician who introduced her to opioids in the 1940s, sparking an addiction that would endure until her suicide. Though freely flowing with the cadence of diary entries, Ditlevsen's narration nonetheless maintains intensive focus, demarcated with razor-sharp prose. She describes her father as "big and black and old like the stove" and revels in the way the "festive and exciting" street of her childhood "envelops me completely, as if it were created to satisfy my personal need for self-expression." Though the author died by suicide at 58 after a series of relapses on morphine and mental breakdowns, these volumes coalesce around her defiant will to create. This confessional masterpiece stands as the crowning achievement of Ditlevsen's fiercely adventuresome and maverick legacy. (Jan.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

This astounding trio of memoirs by Ditlevsen (1917–1976) comprises three pivotal periods in the writer's life. Childhood covers the author's darkly humorous disclosures on her misfit nature and the "chaos of anger, sorrow, and compassion" instilled by her mother as she struggled to become a poet despite growing up poor. In Youth, Tove celebrates the publication of her poetry and regrets several divorces. Dependency tracks her turbulent adulthood, accented by pregnancies and periods of feverish, prolific writing yet marred by a backroom abortion and a third marriage to a physician who introduced her to opioids in the 1940s, sparking an addiction that would endure until her suicide. Though freely flowing with the cadence of diary entries, Ditlevsen's narration nonetheless maintains intensive focus, demarcated with razor-sharp prose. She describes her father as "big and black and old like the stove" and revels in the way the "festive and exciting" street of her childhood "envelops me completely, as if it were created to satisfy my personal need for self-expression." Though the author died by suicide at 58 after a series of relapses on morphine and mental breakdowns, these volumes coalesce around her defiant will to create. This confessional masterpiece stands as the crowning achievement of Ditlevsen's fiercely adventuresome and maverick legacy. (Jan.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Tove Ditlevsen's autobiographical trilogy about her troubled life in Copenhagen"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year (2021)
An NPR Best Books of the Year (2021)

Called "a masterpiece" by The New York Times, the acclaimed trilogy from Tove Ditlevsen, a pioneer in the field of genre-bending confessional writing.

Tove Ditlevsen is today celebrated as one of the most important and unique voices in twentieth-century Danish literature, and The Copenhagen Trilogy (1969–71) is her acknowledged masterpiece. Childhood tells the story of a misfit child’s single-minded determination to become a poet; Youth describes her early experiences of sex, work, and independence. Dependency picks up the story as the narrator embarks on the first of her four marriages and goes on to describe her horrible descent into drug addiction, enabled by her sinister, gaslighting doctor-husband.

Throughout, the narrator grapples with the tension between her vocation as a writer and her competing roles as daughter, wife, mother, and drug addict, and she writes about female experience and identity in a way that feels very fresh and pertinent to today’s discussions around feminism. Ditlevsen’s trilogy is remarkable for its intensity and its immersive depiction of a world of complex female friendships, family and growing up—in this sense, it’s Copenhagen's answer to Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels. She can also be seen as a spiritual forerunner of confessional writers like Karl Ove Knausgaard, Annie Ernaux, Rachel Cusk and Deborah Levy. Her trilogy is drawn from her own experiences but reads like the most compelling kind of fiction.

Born in a working-class neighborhood in Copenhagen in 1917, Ditlevsen became famous for her poetry while still a teenager, and went on to write novels, stories, and memoirs. Having been dismissed by the critical establishment in her lifetime as a working-class female writer, she is now being rediscovered and championed as one of Denmark’s most important modern authors.