Thursday, 8 April 2021

Förförelsen (Glahn) by Knut Faldbakken


I bought this in a second hand shop, and had never heard about the author. The text on the back cover caught my attention and for that I am happy. This is a gem of a novel. It is the love story between a teenage girl and a mature man. My first thoughts went to Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, but it is a totally different book. The story turns out to be a re-writing of the novel Pan by Knut Hamsun

Thomas Glahn is a man seemingly roaming around without a goal. He meets and old friend, Mack, and his teenage daughter Edvarda. He is totally smitten by her from the first sight. Glahn is drawn into Mack's family life, with its mysterious relationships. Glahn has difficulties interpreting the relationship between Mack and his wife Eva. Although Glahn realises it is best to stay away from the family, it is like a magnet is drawing him in. 

Glahn and Edvarda start a relationship which is not consummated until much later. Both are afraid to commit, and when they do, their commitments come at different times. Jealousy is a constant undercurrent. Although Glahn, at a first glance, seems to be a man rather sure of himself, he is lost in his feelings for Edvarda, and his own sexuality. Always looking for love, without really finding it.

Simultaneously, we understand that Glahn is in therapy. His psychiatrist encourages him to write down his thoughts and actions, and these talks interlopes with the ongoing story. It is only when we reach the end that we realise that things are not what they seem to be.

 I learned, after reading the book, that Knut Faldbakken studied psychology at Oslo University. That is well visible in the construction of the novel, where he goes into the psyche of his characters, primarily Glahn and Mack. The ending, which came as a total surprise to me, gives another dimension to the love story and the actions of the main characters. 

It is a novel to enjoy, partly due to the psychological delusions. However, you don't really realise the scope of the story until you have finished reading. It is not a difficult read, on the contrary. Although given the emotional depths with which it deals, it is a comparably easy read. 

Checking out the connection between Pan and Glahn I found an article by Stefanie von Schnurbein which sounds interesting if you want to venture further into the stories: Failed Seductions: Crises of Masculinity in Knut Hamsun's "Pan" and Knut Faldbakken's "Glahn".  This is where I am heading now. 

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