Alan's Reviews > Melancholy

Melancholy by Jon Fosse
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's review
Apr 07, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: novels, read-in-2008, disappointments
Recommended for: no one
Read in March, 2008

** spoiler alert ** Can't recommend this, incredibly repetitive and dull. It enters the mind of a real Norwegian painter of the mid 19th Century who has a breakdown at the German academy he attends. There is also a 'coda' in the shape of a writer (a fictionalised Fosse?) in the 1990s who sees the painter's work and realises he must write about him. There is one great moment, but mostly it is a real chore to get through.


Here's the one moment I did enjoy, a marvellously simple piece of writing that shows the unstable mind of the painter and his anxieties, unfortunately there wasn't another (moment):

Helen Winckelmann stood there and looked at him, with hair falling down from the center part over her small round face with pale blue eyes, with a small little mouth, a small chin. Hair falling down over her shoulders. Pale, flowing hair. And then a smile on her mouth. And then her eys, that opened toward him. And from her eyes came the brightest light he had ever seen. And then he, Lars from Hattarvag, stood up. And lars from Hattavarg stood there, in his purple suit, made of velvet, he, Lars from Hattarvag, stood with his arms hanging straight down and he looked at the hair and the eyes and the mouth that stood there in front of him, he just stood there, and then it was as if the light from her eyes surrounded him like warmth, or not like warmth! like light all around him! and in this light he was someone different from who he had been, he was not Lars from Hattarvag anymore, he was someone else, all his anxiety, all his fears, everything he lacked and that always filled him with anxiety, everything he longed for was fulfilled by the light from her eyes, he was calm, he was fulfilled, and he stood there, with his hands hanging straight down from his body, and then, without meaning to, without thinking, without anything, he just walked up to her and it was like he entirely disappeared into her light, into the light all around her and he felt so calm, like he had never felt before, he felt, and he put his arms around her and he pressed himself against her. He stands with his arms around her, he is so calm, so filled by something, he doesn't know what. He is where she is. He is no longer himself, but he is where she is. He is in something, he doesn't know what. He is where she is.
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