cover image The Faces

The Faces

Tove Irma Margit Ditlevsen / Author Fjord Press $9.95 (151p) I

In Copenhagen in 1968, Lise Mundus, an acclaimed children's book author who hasn't written a line in two years, is fighting insanity. Her confused, paranoid mind conjures a barrage of private persecutions. Her husband, Kurt, and daughter, Hanne, plot to coerce Lise into committing suicide so they can marry. Kurt chastises her: ``You write in a language only spoken by five million people. It's so important for you to create sentences in that language that everything else takes second place to your perverse obsession.'' Pushing free love, LSD and liberal political rhetoric, the housekeeper Gitte is sleeping with Kurt and with Lise's elder son, Mogens, and threatens to throw sulphuric acid in the face of Soren, Lise's younger son. An overdose of sleeping pills sends Lise to a locked mental ward where doctors and nurses do their best to torture the patient and lie to her, and where voices speak to her from the radiators beneath the barred windows, from her pillow and from the pipes in the toilets. Ditlevsen ( Early Spring ), whose own battles with drug addiction and psychoses ended with her suicide in 1976, is a brave guide to the lonely realm of madness and to the plight of the artist beset by the demands of society. (Feb.)