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Tove Ditlevsen Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Copenhagen Trilogy Books

Publication Order of Collections

The Trouble with Happiness (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Tove Ditlevsen
Tove Irma Margit Ditlevsen was a Danish author and poet. Having written in a variety of genres, she was one of the best known authors in Denmark, at the time of her death. She published 29 books in her life which include memoirs, short stories, novels, and poetry. Recurring themes in her work include loss of childhood, female identity, and memory.

She was born December 14, 1917 in Copenhagen, Denmark and grew up in a working class neighborhood of Vesterbro. Her childhood experiences were the focal points of her work. Tove was married and divorced four different times.

At the age of ten, she started writing poetry, and her first volume of poetry was published during her early twenties. Ditlevsen experienced her first bit of popular success with the publication of “Flickering Lights”, her poetry collection in 1947.

The Danish Broadcasting Corporation commissioned her to pen a novel, called “We Have Each Other”, which was published in the year 1954 and then broadcast as radio installments. She also had a column in the weekly Famille Journalen, responding to letters from various readers.

Three of her books: “Childhood”, “Youth”, and “Dependency” form an autobiographical trilogy. “Childhood” and “Youth” were translated by Tiina Nunnally and published by Seal Press in 1985 under the name of “Early Spring”. The full trilogy, with Michael Favala Goldman translating the third book, was published in a single volume in the year 2019 and referred to as “The Copenhagen Trilogy”.

Ditlevsen struggled with drug and alcohol abuse over the course of her entire adult life, and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital on several occasions, which was a recurring theme in her later works. On March 7, 1976, she committed suicide from an overdose of sleeping pills. She was 58 at the time of her death.

“Childhood” is a non-fiction book that was released in the year 1967. A woman’s journey through friendship, addiction, ambition, and love.

Tove knows that she is a misfit, and whose childhood is made for an entirely different child. In her working-class neighborhood in Copenhagen, she’s enthralled by her red-headed and wild friend Ruth, who initiates her into more adult secrets. However Tove can’t reveal her real self to her or anybody else.

For ‘mysterious, long words start crawling across my soul’, and she comes to realize she’s got a vocation, something unknowable inside of her, and that she has to one day, painfully yet inevitably, leave the narrow street of her childhood behind her.

This is a visceral portrait of female friendship and girlhood, told with vivid intensity and lyricism.

“Youth” is a non-fiction book that was released in the year 1967. A searing portrait of a woman’s journey through friendship, addiction, love, and ambition from one of Denmark’s most celebrated twentieth-century writers.

Tove, having been forced to leave school early, embarks on a chequered career in a series of menial, low paying jobs. However she is hungry for both love and poetry, as well as for her real life to begin.

While Europe is sliding into a war, she has to navigate a Nazi landlady, exploitative bosses, and unwelcome sexual encounters on the road to her own hard-won independence. But she is always ruthlessly determined in the pursuit of her poetic vocation. Until at last the miracle that she has always dreamed about seems to be within her grasp.

This is a strikingly honest and immersive portrait of adolescence, which is filled with poeticism, biting humor, and vulnerability.

“Dependency” is a non-fiction book that was released in the year 1971. Tove is just twenty years old, however she is famous already, a published poet and a much older literary editor’s wife. Her path in life appears to be set, but she’s got no idea about the struggles ahead of her: artistic failure, destructive addiction, wanted and unwanted pregnancies, and love affairs.

While the years pass by, the central tension of her life comes into painful focus: the horrible lure of dependency, in all of its forms, and the possibility of living fearlessly and freely, as an artist on her own terms.

The last of the “Copenhagen Trilogy”, and arguably Tove Divletsen’s masterpiece, this is a blisteringly honest and dark account of addiction and the way out.

“The Faces” is a stand alone novel that was released in the year 1968. A haunting and searing novel about a woman on the edge, depicted with all of the vividness of lived experience.

Copenhagen in the year 1968. Lise is a children’s books author and married mom of three, and is increasingly being haunted by disembodied voices and faces. She’s convinced that her husband, who is already extravagantly unfaithful to her, is going to leave her. Most of all, she is afraid that she is never going to write again.

But while descending into a world of hospitals and pills, she starts wondering if insanity could really be something to be feared, or could it actually bring a sort of freedom?

“The Trouble With Happiness: And Other Stories” is a powerful new collection of short stories by Tove Ditlevsen. One newly married female longs for a silk umbrella, irrationally. While a betrayed mom impulsively sacks her housekeeper, a husband chases away his wife’s beloved cat.

Underneath the surface of these precisely observed stories about family life and marriage in mid-century Copenhagen pulse currents of violence, desire, and despair. All while men and women struggle to escape out of the roles assigned to them and dream about becoming happy and free—without ever fully understanding what that may mean.

These understated and poignant stories, written in the fifties and sixties and never before translated into English, offers readers a new opportunity to encounter the quietly devastating work of one essential twentieth-century writer.

Tove’s writing is both wholly controlled and engulfing. She is simply a master at conjuring up a whole entire world in only a few words. The greatness of her writing feels like some unsolvable mystery: up above and far away. She is a master of slow realization, concise ironies, and quick characterization.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Tove Ditlevsen

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