Memoirs of a Dead Man | Buy Now
Translated by Neil Smith
ISBN-10: 1870041658 ISBN-13: 9781870041652
336 pages RRP £10.95 paperback 2006 Series B No. 37
'Our power, and our sense of security reside in the very fact that we are powerless'
Hjalmar Bergman (1883-1931) is widely regarded as one of the foremost Swedish novelists of the twentieth century. Memoirs of a Dead Man, first published in 1918, follows the efforts of Jan Arnberg, the 'dead man' of the title, to escape the curse that has bound the fate of his family to that of the Arnfelts for generations. The earlier efforts of Jan's father to break free by moving to America foundered in a parody of consumer society and advertising slogans. Jan's own story culminates when he has to flee a small-town scandal in Sweden and ends up in a symbolic kingdom of death in Hamburg, where the family curse is played out once more, and where he comes to realize that abdication from free will is his only option.
Although apparently realistic to begin with, Bergman's novel shifts towards a theatrical, dreamlike world of repetitions and refractions in which the fates of his characters are predetermined and acted out in a macabre mixture of comedy and nightmare.