Larissa's Reviews > The Conqueror

The Conqueror by Jan Kjærstad
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's review
Sep 30, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: in-translation, norwegian, for-review, 2009, read-while-traveling, open-letter
Read in July, 2009

Expanding on the story developed in The Seducer, Kjærstad's The Conqueror dispels much of the hero/victim/creator/imitator/murderer mythology surrounding Jonas Wergeland, and complicates both the factual details and the narration enough to keep readers engaged. Perhaps by virtue of the framing story--a professor is commissioned to write Wergeland's biography, but finds himself unable to do so without the unexpected aid of a mysterious woman who knows innumerable intimate details about Wergeland's life--this installment seems a little more accessible. Nesting stories, self-reflective narrators, and a hazy boundry between fact and fiction defines this expansive story, recalling both (forgive me) the 'pre-postmodernism' of Don Quixote and, of course, Kjærstad's beloved Arabian Nights. As this volume deals more with the darker aspects of Wergeland's life, he also feels like a more fully realized, tangible character than beforehand.

I'll be more articulate about this once I've finished the trilogy, but for now, I'll simply note that if you're going to read one of the Wergeland books, my money's on this volume. (I'll get back to you after I finish The Discoverer, though...)

(Update, 9/30/09: Review of the whole Wergeland Trilogy here:
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