COMPLETE FREEDOM by Tove Ditlevsen


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A brief selection--eleven small stories--from the lifetime short-story output of Danish poet/novelist Ditlevsen, who took her own life in 1976 at age 58. Marital misery is the predominant chord here: a young widower laments over the swinging open-marriage approach that destroyed his randomly pregnant wife (""Tell me, Sonja and Arne and all you intelligent people, what do you do with the children?""); a scandalously sane woman endures the nonstop psyche-talk of her clinically depressed, self-involved, in-analysis husband; a woman on the brink of divorce #2 has to choose between a return to husband #1 or muddling-through with her current, difficult mate. But the more affecting stories, in fact, are the less intensely one-on-one, Bergmanesque tales: a woman's ambivalent feelings about approaching grand-motherhood; the attempt of grown children to substitute a grand gift to their elderly widower-father for genuine attention or affection; and ""A Good Deal,"" in which a married couple (expecting a child) buys a house from an abandoned woman-with-baby--who's vulnerably desperate to sell. Except for the occasional detail (and one heavyhanded story about implicit collaboration with Nazi anti-Semitism), there are few particularly Danish characteristics in this contemporary gathering. Nonetheless: a quietly impressive sampling from the work of a shrewd, ironic writer who's relatively little-known here.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1982
Publisher: Curbstone Press (321 Jackson St., Willimantic, CT 06226)