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Youth & Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen

April 13, 2021—6:00 pm7:00 pm

Read and discuss Scandinavian literature in translation as part of our Nordic Book Club, now online! Each month we select a novel from some of the best Nordic literary voices. Discussions have typically taken place the last Tuesday of the month at Scandinavia House but will now be taking place bi-weekly as an online meeting.

Book club participants will all appear online at the start of the meeting when they log in so that they are able to take part in the conversation. For participants who would prefer not to be visible onscreen, see an easy tutorial online here on how to set a profile image that will appear onscreen instead.

On April 13, we’ll be discussing the books Youth & Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen, Volumes 2 & 3 in the Copenhagen Trilogy, which has been recently re-released in translation by Tiina Nunnally & Michael Favala Goldman. This session follows our Online Nordic Book Club of Childhood on March 16. The trilogy was the subject of a recent panel discussion with Michael Favala Goldman, Morten Høi Jensen, Rachel Kushner, and Ben Lerner, available to stream here.

Read more about the history of Tove Ditlevsen’s life in an article from The History of Nordic Women’s Literature here; and see a review of the Copenhagen Trilogy from The New Yorker here.

In Youth, following the events in Childhood, Tove has been forced to leave school early, embarking on a checkered career in a string of low-paid, menial jobs. But she is hungry: for poetry, for love, for real life to begin. As Europe slides into war, she must navigate exploitative bosses, a Nazi landlady, and unwelcome sexual encounters on the road to hard-won independence. Yet she remains ruthlessly determined in the pursuit of her poetic vocation—until at last the miracle she has always dreamed of appears to be within reach; in a strikingly honest and immersive portrait of adolescence, filled with biting humor, vulnerability, and poeticism.

In Dependency, Tove is only 20 years old, but she’s already famous as a published poet, and is married to a much older literary editor. Her path in life seems set, yet she has no idea of the struggles ahead—love affairs, wanted and unwanted pregnancies, artistic failure, and destructive addiction. As the years go by, the central tension of Tove’s life comes into painful focus: the terrible lure of dependency, in all its forms, and the possibility of living freely and fearlessly—as an artist on her own terms. The final volume in the Copenhagen Trilogy, and arguably Ditlevsen’s masterpiece, Dependency is a dark and blisteringly honest account of addiction, and the way out.



April 13, 2021
6:00 pm – 7:00 pm