Vi, de druknede

Vi, de druknede It Is An Epic Drama Of Adventure, Courage, Ruthlessness And Passion By One Of Scandinavia S Most Acclaimed StorytellersIn A Motley Crew Of Danish Sailors Sets Sail From The Small Island Town Of Marstal To Fight The Germans Not All Of Them Return And Those Who Do Will Never Be The Same Among Them Is The Daredevil Laurids Madsen, Who Promptly Escapes Again Into The Anonymity Of The High SeasAs Soon As He Is Old Enough, His Son Albert Sets Off In Search Of His Missing Father On A Voyage That Will Take Him To The Furthest Reaches Of The Globe And Into The Clutches Of The Most Nefarious Company Bearing A Mysterious Shrunken Head, And Plagued By Premonitions Of Bloodshed, He Returns To A Town Increasingly Run By Women Among Them A Widow Intent On Liberating All Men From The Tyranny Of The SeaFrom The Barren Rocks Of Newfoundland To The Lush Plantations Of Samoa, From The Roughest Bars In Tasmania, To The Frozen Coasts Of Northern Russia, We, The Drowned Spans Four Generations, Two World Wars And A Hundred Years Carsten Jensen Conjures A Wise, Humorous, Thrilling Story Of Fathers And Sons, Of The Women They Love And Leave Behind, And Of The Sea S Murderous Promise This Is A Novel Destined To Take Its Place Among The Greatest Seafaring Literature

Carsten Jensen was born 1952 He first made his name as a columnist and literary critic for the Copenhagen daily Politiken, and has written novels, essays and travel books.Jensen was awarded the Golden Laurels for I Have Seen the World Begin and the Danske Banks Litteraturpris, Denmark s most prestigious literary award, for We, the Drowned.

[PDF] ✩ Vi, de druknede By Carsten Jensen –
  • Hardback
  • 696 pages
  • Vi, de druknede
  • Carsten Jensen
  • Danish
  • 07 April 2017

10 thoughts on “Vi, de druknede

  1. says:

    What do you say about a book that, after you finished it, you sat staring at a wall for fifteen minutes while tears flowed down your cheeks It s miraculous I don t feel that that s enough, this review isn t enough I loved this book, I cannot do it justice Still, it s a good challenge to force yourself to examine what made you love a book, so here we go This book is the ocean.It s about a fight with God The book covers roughly 200 years of history, and the sea is the only constant character, a godlike being, who is of a God to the sailors upon her than God could ever be No one feels like God condemns them to death, but the depths and ice reach out, and grab the sailors one by one, leaving families in Marstal to grieve over a missing body The sea has power over every aspect of their lives and they are enthralled to it.It s a romance A romance with a frontier, the men that pine for freedom, and the women that pine for their men It s all mystery and fate and destiny, and the depths of the soul that, like the sea, are boundless It s about the darkness of men Our bodies are vessels with an ability to store up so much raw power of hate and love There are always seems to be death and darkness waiting back in Marstal, while the sea provides relief Yet in the end men turn the sea into an even larger, dangerous weapon of death, and then, relief can be found back home, in Marstal The tides turn, they give, and they take, just like the book, just like history.I read this and Lonesome Dove at the same time, and I was struck by author s ability to use their narrative form to mimic their respective frontier In Lonesome Dove the words were sparse, the sentences short, the events highly sequential because that s how cowboys are, do what is in front of you, then move on to the next thing This book was like the ocean, it was heavy and large, there were multiple voices, it was chaotic, and you had to follow a lot of characters at once You flowed from one story to the next, and tried never to forget a moment or a person.Occasionally the story was told from one characters perspective, but often it was written in the very rare first person collective, we I loved this It made the story so involving Who was we It was all of us The story is often hard to read Its dark, and it reaches for your heart, but at times there are moments of such humor, such dark humor, that I burst out laughing Then you really feel like you are joining in the sorrows and joys of everyone else in the town LATER NOTE I was just reflecting on the we , perhaps that We, the Drowned and it is they, the missing from Marstal, those unable to participate any, are telling the story at times The book was also a great history lesson I love maritime history I have shelves of maritime history books in my home library I learned a lot about the pains and tribulations of the sailors, which are often left out of historical texts I learned than I probably cared to about WWII The WWII sections were brilliant, and terrible There is no foreknowledge of ships necessary to understand this book, but even if you know a bit, you ll probably learn something.I m giving this book 5 stars, because I loved it Though it does have its fault particularly the middle section felt heavy and a bit flat, I felt that the author could have tidied it You felt as landlocked as Albert Madsen and it was stifling, which may have been the point, but a reader should never be stifled for than fifty pages I was so relieved to finally enter the life of Knud Erik If you ve reached this place and you are struggling, push through The ending is truly one of the most beautiful I ve ever seen We thought we knew everything about him But that s not how life is When all s said and done, we can never truly know one another.

  2. says:

    Bulgarian review below If you stand on the deck of your life and look at the horizon, you will see them emerge The spectres dwelling in the past and the drowned inhabiting the present You will see how the surf is trying to cast them ashore on some marooned coast, but they are always there reminding you of themselves, and there s no other way Because they are us We, the drowned.Despite its volume, the novel has a lace structure and the text breathes lightly There is lightness to the reader s breath too You breathe in the story quickly like you would gulp for air, and the intoxication goes to your head The style reminded me so much of Eleanor Catton s The Luminaries perhaps because of the adventure theme, the meekness, the soft melancholy and the lack of pomposity in the phrasing Jensen uses his journalistic bias with a deft hand and frequently sets bait sentences that both reveal what follows, but leave enough to the imagination to leave you wondering and craving to unravel the Gordian knot of the plot We, the drowned begins with a departure and a war The departure is to Heaven, where you can see only Saint Peter s ass obviously, and the war well, it is waged against an opponent you know you can t defeat, but it s woven into human nature to never give up Even when the biggest wave has whelmed you and your lungs are burning for a breath of air Especially then The novel is a collection of stories Just as our own life is never completely detached, the characters pass the story as a ball, and the events gradually threaded into a string of pearls that has neither beginning nor end The pearls are gathered from the four corners of the world, but what they have in common is that they were born from the ocean And those who have hunted for them know that one day they might also end up at the bottom of the ocean Some connections, though bitter, are stronger than the self preservation instinct So you learn to shed sadness as unnecessary skin and keep moving forward And tell stories Salty like tears and sea I could navigate from a chart I could determine my position using a sextant I was in an unknown place in the Pacific on a ship with no captain and I could still find my way But I had no way of mapping my own mind or the course of my life Years come and go with the ebb and flow and only the shreds of past remain You observe life through a spyglass, and it spreads before you coaxing you with its alluring colors You rove with an insatiable pale fire and seek something unbeknownst to you, but you also long for peace and quiet You finally get back home Or you don t And you hope to have lived at least a little, to have had a worthy life, and to land on your feet and in your sea boots Two drowning people can t save each other All they can do is drag each other down , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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    It was a big book I read it Now I don t know what to make of it.It was a big baggy monster Its language oddly stiff and awkward It was a tell don t show book And I m not sure why so many supposedly hard boiled people were so shocked at the sight of Captain Cook s shrunken head either.At one point the book reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude and I thought that Jensen wanted to write a Danish version of that, but with a shipyard financial scandal instead of a fruit plantation However the book doesn t retell Danish history between 1848 and 1945 in the same way that Marquez recreates Columbia s history through the experience of one town The Baltic setting invites comparison with Buddenbrooks which similarly deals with the changing generations but in a tighter, focussed way.The narrative is about the inhabitants of the Danish coastal town of Marstal and their relationship with the sea going life There s a sense of the development of the town, increasing prosperity and better material conditions On the whole it comes across as a novelization based on an oral history project backed up by raiding the archives at the town museum.This narrative is made up of different voices which are spliced together in a continuous I or we that represents various individuals or groups through the course of the novel The effect is dislocating It led to me to expect that the narrative voice would ultimately be that of the eponymous drowned but no Nor did I get a sense of why the narrative voice was changing, other than authorial convenience unless of course it really was an oral history project that had gone rogue.It s the kind of book in which things just happen The town grows The violence that seems so ingrained stops A poor person appears, and she s obviously poor because she s described as being part of a culture of poverty even though none of the other townsfolk seem materially any different from her.Much of the book is taken up by the influence of the sea The lure of far places but also the loss of sailors Though the danger and destructiveness of the sea is trumped by wartime violence While this is bowel loosening in the 1848 war unfortunately all the danger is having an erotic effect during WWII on the characters the reader is safe from such side effects The novel stops in 1945 so the issue of how a generation for whom the air raid has become intertwined with eroticism will cope in peacetime isn t explored.Perhaps this is inevitable in a long, modern novel but there seemed to be a lot of recognisable incidents from other places The man with prophetic foresight of those who will die seems to have stepped out of The German Lesson, the baby burnt in firestorm clutched by its mother was that from Winfried Georg Sebald, the incident of shooting at insulators with air gun, don t I remember that from the old West German TV epic Heimat and isn t that Congo story there actually a version of Heart of Darkness but retold in two pages and with the Imperialism dropped But apart from all that it s not a bad book I got used to the style about half way through and if you fancy a novel set on a Danish Island that tells stories across the generations of the men who went to sea and the women who were left behind then this non political One Hundred Years of Solitude could be the book for you Sprawling open ended, non committal epic.

  5. says:

    Like any self respecting Minnesotan, I grew up loving the water During our three warm months, I would fish, swim, and water ski During our nine cold months, I would ice fish, drunk swim, and ice water ski But I don t need to interact with the water I enjoy it just as much if not on a passive basis Just plop me down on a beach with a book and a beer, and I ve found my heaven Water, you see, invites one to contemplate it soothes the soul it stirs the imagination Also, so does beer As a water lover, I always enjoyed my family s twice yearly trips to Duluth, on Minnesota s north shore, which sits alongside the great inland ocean of Lake Superior In the winter, we d go skiing at Lutsen during the day, while spending the night at a lakeside cottage with picture windows facing the water On those blustery evenings, we d light a fire and stare out at the waves, which crashed with a sound like thunder against the breakers In the summer, we d hike portions of the Superior Trail, visit the lighthouse at Split Rock, and search for agates on the beach which I ve come to learn is simply a way to occupy kids, when the water is too cold for swimming I still love Duluth, the coastal feel of it Once, it was the quintessential port city founded by the French near a natural portage situated at a nexus of water and rail at one time as busy a shipping hub as New York City It was a city that thrived on, and was given life by, Lake Superior That was the good The bad, of course, were those November gales made famous by the balladeer Gordon Lightfoot Today, Duluth feels like a college town than a port city Still, when you walk down by the shore, with the dead fish smell, the mournful bellow of a foghorn, the winking lights of navigation buoys, and a long ore boat stretched out on the horizon, you can t help but be swept away by the romance of men setting out to the sea.It was that romance that led me to take a flyer on Carsten Jensen s We, the Drowned, which spans nearly a century in the life of the Danish port town of Marstal Normally, a book like We, the Drowned would give me pause Not only is it 675 pages long, but it s translated from Danish to English And there are few things in book land quite so nightmarish as a bad translation Beyond that is the difficulty in writing generation spanning novels Since the scope of the story is beyond a single human life, an author runs the risk of creating a book without a spine Finally, the first line of the book Many years ago there lived a man called Laurids Madsen, who went up to Heaven and came down again, thanks to his boots smacked of magical realism And I hate magical realism.As it turns out, none of my fears were warranted The translation read clean, the author found a clever way to connect the decades, and beyond that first line, there is very little magic to be found We, the Drowned can be divided into three main sections The first and last sections also the best of the book take place mainly at sea the middle section is landlocked The story begins in 1848, when Denmark went to war against the German state of Schleswig Holstein Almost before you ve met a single character and certainly before you ve figured out who the main character is , Jensen treats you to a singularly ferocious naval engagement, in which Danish ships shell a German shore battery The first hit cleared our aft deck of eleven men We d been calling the cannonballs gray peas, but the thing that shot low across the deck, tearing rail, cannon ports, and people apart in a shower of wooden splinters, was no pea Ejnar saw its approach and registered every meter of its journey as it swept across the deck, shearing the legs off one man and sending them flying in one direction while the rest of him went in another It sliced off a shoulder here and smashed a skull there It was hurtling toward him, with bone splinters, blood, and hair stuck to it He let himself fall backward and saw it shoot past He later said it took off his bootlaces in passing that s how close it came before it tore out through the quarterdeck aft.Denmark loses the naval engagement, and the Danes on the ships are taken prisoner Here, we are introduced to Laurids Madsen, who was blown into the air by an explosion, but landed on his feet Shortly after his introduction, though, Laurids ships off to sea and disappears The story then begins to tighten around Laurids son, Albert Frankly, it took awhile for me to get my bearings with We, the Drowned There was no immediately discernable plot, only events there were no sharply etched characters, only names And Danish names, no less, which don t exactly roll off the tongue Indeed, for a time, I thought the novel seemed a collection of short stories about Marstal than a complete novel There was no narrative through line rather, it was vignette after vignette, each anecdote connected only vaguely to the one before This is not to say the vignettes were without quality There is an amazing chapter about Marstal s school and its brutal, terrifying teacher, Isager Though the novel s main characters barely appear in this chapter, if at all, it reverberates throughout the rest of the book This early uncertainty is compounded by Jensen s choice of narrative viewpoint or, specifically, his refusal to settle on one narrative viewpoint The point of view in We, the Drowned is always shifting At times during the novel, Jensen utilizes a standard, third person omniscient viewpoint For one section, he switches to the first person singular The bulk of the story, however, is told in the rarer first person collective, using the pronoun we The advantage to this point of view is that it gives you intimacy you are made part of the unfolding story without sacrificing scope unlike the first person, singular, you see things through many eyes The problem, though, especially at the start, is that you aren t quite sure who the protagonist is supposed to be, much less the identity of the authoritatively voiced we Things get on track and for the most part, stay that way once Jensen latches the story to Albert Madsen, who leaves Marstal to find his father This leads to a series of high seas adventures that include a shrunken head, a fight against cannibalistic natives not politically correct, but entertaining , a murderous first mate, a shipwreck, a ship stalled in the doldrums, and visits to a half dozen or exotic ports of call This happy momentum slows a bit when We, the Drowned makes its first big temporal leap With jarring suddenness, Jensen ends one chapter with Albert still a young man, and opens the next with Albert nearing old age He has become a wealthy broker however, he has never married or had any children He is introduced to a young widow, Klara, and her young son, Knud Erick Albert and Klara begin a relationship that, to Jensen s credit, is thorny and complicated and realistically awkward Albert s relationship with Knud Erick is the stuff of novels, as Albert teaches Knud the things he will need to know for the third part of the novel, when he will become the main character That the middle section of We, the Drowned is slow is not solely a function of Jensen suddenly losing his talent mid book Mostly, it s the result of the varying settings the thrall of the wide blue ocean verses the sedateness of a provincial Danish village Moreover, Jensen uses this time to introduce female characters into the heretofore all male world of sailors Indeed, one of Jensen s main themes is the odd life cycle in the town of Marstal The men go down to the sea on ships, leaving the women and children behind The men drown the boys grow up and follow their fathers and drown and the graveyards of Marstal are filled with old women Klara, who has been made bitter by the loss of her husband and the pull of the sea, gives voice to this theme Still, Jensen is not entirely blameless He lets this land based section get baggy and shapeless Most of this time is spent on Klara s King Canute like crusade to destroy the shipping industry in Marstal, and therefore stop the men from drowning This episode is far longer than necessary, and includes pages worth of excessive dialogue and extraneous characters belaboring a rather simple plot point Just when I was at the point of despair, when I thought of how such a promising novel had faltered, the novel enters its third act Knud becomes a man and goes to sea like Albert before him, he has various adventures that tie into the mythology of Marstal The most powerful and gut wrenching of these escapades is the cataclysm of the Second World War With Denmark occupied by the Nazis, Knud escapes to Great Britain and becomes a captain of a merchant ship Jensen s portrayal of convoy duty is as memorable and lasting as his earlier description of wooden sailing vessels at war Escort vessels sailing at the rear of the convoy were tasked with picking up survivors, but they were often prevented from doing so by the wrath of the bombers or forced to divert their course to avoid torpedoes Then the shipwrecked men would drift behind and disappear on the vast sea The last trace of them would be the red distress lights on their life jackets When a ship was torpedoed, the destroyers would speed over to the attacking submarine and drop their depth charges Any survivors in the water would implode from the enormous pressure, strong enough to rip away the U boat s ard steel plates, or be propelled into the air on a powerful geyser of water, with their lungs forced out through their mouths tattered human remains of which not even a scream was left They had orders not to deviate from course because the danger of colliding with the other ships in the convoy Knud had stood on the bridge his hands on the wheel, and sailed right into a whole poppy field of red distress lights in front of the Nimbus s bow He d heard the frantic pummeling against the ship when the life jacketed survivors drifted alongside and desperately tried to push off, so as not to be caught by the screw propeller The ship s wake foamed red with blood from the severed body parts being churned around, while he stood on the bridge wing, looking back I haven t read the Danish version of We, the Drowned for the fundamental reason I don t speak Danish I do have three and a half years of high school German, though Ich mochte ein bier, bitte Accordingly, I cannot speak to the faithfulness of the translation I can say, however, that I had no trouble reading it We, the Drowned has been transformed into direct, plainspoken English, with few flourishes The only problem I had on this point was the book s tendency towards lazy idioms and shopworn clich s I cannot say, however, whether the fault lies with the translators or the author I will blame Jensen squarely for the bloated middle section I discussed above There seems to be a definite dichotomy in his writing style When Jensen is dealing with naval battles or storms or a scene of dialogue between two sailors, his prose is terse, carefully hewn, and evocative But when Jensen is on land, his prose often gets soggy, swollen with Hallmark card corniness and penny ante philosophizing Other minor annoyances include a heavy reliance on outrageous coincidence with so many characters finding each other, one starts to doubt the size of the ocean , and a few too many facile references to Homer and Conrad All this is to say, I suppose, that We, the Drowned is wildly inconsistent in tone and quality But it is also wildly ambitious and consistently entertaining Even those sections on dry land about which I have griped at length have pleasures to offer the reader Messiness in an epic novel is not as fatal a flaw as it would be in a slim work of literary fiction To the contrary, messiness can be endearing Here, Jensen starts with a small town, but everything else is big big characters, battles, storms, adventures A big ocean upon which all these things play out We, the Drowned is proudly overstuffed By the end of the novel, this overstuffed quality has become its crowning virtue All the accumulated details combine for an effective emotional punch in the solar plexus We, the Drowned does not follow the traditional structure of a novel There is no overarching plot heading towards resolution It would be wrong, as well, to call this a journey Instead, We, the Drowned is like a visit Jensen invites you to share the life of a town, and the lives of its villagers, and to experience their stories of battles and loves won and lost, and to share with them their transfixion with the sea, which like a god, gave all and took all.

  6. says:

    I know I absolutely loved this book, but I fear I will be unable to properly explain why It is all in the lines Some are beautiful, and yet their beauty is not the main thing It is that each line had me thinking Something happens, a person does something and then a line expresses the dilemma a person now faces This is what made the book for me Life is complicated, people are complicated and I like books that show you this I felt that over and over again, in every paragraph, I was drawn into a character s search for understanding War, nature, friendship, love all pull you in than one direction Look at the sea Look at the havoc and destruction of a storm there Flip the coin and look at the beauty it holds Even during war there can bee kindness and goodness Love can rip you apart Am I comprehensible Does this above sound way too philosophical It is done with a light touch Never heavy The characters are not good or bad Each is good and bad, all in the same person This is a book filled with adventures storms and travel and murder and love and friendship Superb description of ten year old boys.and what they get up to Their escapades are equally exciting The plot keeps moving I was constantly surprised at the twists and turns of the events There is history too The story starts and ends and intermittently returns to a small town in Denmark That town really exists It is Marstal on the island r It is a seafaring town The book can be classified as historical fiction too, following the events of the townsfolk from 1848 through 1945 It starts with war, the German invasion of Denmark in 1849, the border moved further north in several steps, continues through WW1 and concludes with WW2 Shipping in wartime is an unbroken thread Dangers at sea too How did the wars and a seafaring life affect not only the men but also the women and children of the island What holds these people together That is a central theme Over a century you watch generations of boys learn how to become men Women learn how to cope without men Yet look at the title We, the Drowned That first person plural means something It says something very strong Community We are the people of Marstal There is a touch of magical realism woven into the book This makes it a piece of art, of imagination It frees the reader from the restrictions of logic and reason Through the addition of magical realism the events don t have to conform to reality, which is something I usually want, but I don t need it here, not in this book The magic is cleverly woven into the story It serves a purpose It leaves a message The audiobook narration by Simon Vance is absolutely stellar You never think about it it flows so smoothly It is read slowly when it should be read slowly and fast when it should be read fast It is read with pretty good Danish pronunciation I only know Swedish, but it sounded right To my ears the name Knud, sounded occasionally like Knuth, just a minor blemish though.Read the second chapter of this review again That is why I love this book.

  7. says:

    A revised version of this short review of my favorite work in translation appeared on the National Book Critics Circle blog in September 2018 I spent five days utterly submerged in this magnificent Danish seafaring epic From the first line onwards, it is an enthralling combination of history and legend Many years ago there lived a man called Laurids Madsen, who went up to heaven and came down again thanks to his boots Jensen traces the history of Marstal, a small island off the coast of Denmark, from war with the Germans in the 1850s through to the aftermath of World War II Over the decades readers meet four generations of fathers and sons, whose journeys reflect the island s dependence on the sea.Although Jensen also includes first person and third person omniscient sections, his predominant use of the first person plural is particularly clever because the identity of the narrating group shifts as the story progresses first it is Marstallers generally, then it is schoolboy peers, later it s the widows left behind on the island.Having this mutable body of observers almost like the chorus in a Homeric myth allows Jensen to show every situation from the inside, but also to introduce occasional doubt about what has happened A good example is the masterfully postmodern chapter following a central character s death Here are a few lines We don t know if that s how it actually happened We don t know what he thought or did in his final hours We don t really know anything, and we each have our own version of the story This book is marvelous my only complaint about it may be that there was a bit too much to take in too many events, too many brilliant scenes, too many memorable images I might have been content for it to have centered on the character of Albert alone, with just a flashback to his father s mythical escape from death But of course that wouldn t have fulfilled Jensen s intention of tracing Marstal life over several generations of war, peace and seafaring adventure.The book has many clearly identifiable influences, from Homer to Heart of Darkness via Robinson Crusoe, and reminded me of Matthew Kneale s English Passengers in tone and scope Perhaps the two most impressive things about it are the unusual blend of narrative perspectives and the fact that, although it is a translation from the Danish, it reads as fluently and beautifully as any English novel I ve read I can only think of perhaps one or two instances in nearly 700 pages where the translation read somewhat awkwardly, but the language certainly didn t inhibit my enjoyment of the novel.At a time when all things Scandinavian are in vogue, I can t see why this glorious epic shouldn t take the world by storm Part of this review appeared in an article on the first person plural at Bookkaholic.

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