Lewi’s Journey, by Per Olov Enquist

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In a review I saw online (and I don’t remember where), I read that this was a difficult book to read but well-worth the effort. Well, it was indeed difficult to get into. The peculiar writing style (which I assume is well rendered by Tiina Nunnally who is usually produces very good translations) creates an unusual atmosphere. How unusual? It is at once playful, meditative, skeptical and ironic. The characters have many quirks which are described with anthropological detachment. The book is fiction but is based on the history of the Pentecostal Church in Sweden. The author puts a great deal of effort in describing the nature of the religious faith of the church’s followers and the qualities of the religious sentiment that inhabits them. The story is told through the voice of an unnamed narrator who obtained information through the reading of church members’ memoirs, or Lebenslauf. This device helps create that impression of detachment and lends a certain academic tone to the book.

I am really curious at this point to find out in what style Enquist’s other books are written. I may find out soon since another volume I ordered, The Royal Physician’s Visit, was shipped by Amazon on May 7.

Interesting tidbits:

  • This is a historical novel about the evolution of the Pentecostal Church in Sweden.
  • Information can easily be found on the Web for the two main characters, Lewi Pethrus and Sven Lidman.
  • Sven Lidman marries the daughter of a rich industrialist called Thiel, whose villa is now a museum, the Thielska galleriet.
  • Sven Lidman hangs out with Hjalmar Söderberg, the author of Doctor Glas (see posting about this book).
  • This book, as Doctor Glas, describes Stockholm as a bleak place, where one finds filth and bad odors.

Reference:

Enquist, Per Olov. Lewi’s Journey, Overlook Duckworth, New York, 2005. Original Swedish version published in 2001.

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2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Per Olov Enquist, Une autre vie (Ett annat liv) « Sylvie's World is a Library

  2. Pingback: The Visit of the Royal Physician, by Per Olov Enquist | Sylvie's World is a Library

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