Born 1937 Prolific Danish Author, Screenwriter Psychosocial critiques Social-realistic style of writing Primarily associated with the 1960 new-realism wave in Danish literature Medical advancements in the 1970s Creation of an artificial heart Organ transplants Pills to cure “problems” Thrillers about middle-class people that face the dilemma of materialism versus human value Ordinary persons tempted by theft and moral issues
Materialism / commercialism Human relationships Rat race for status Human values Critically informed portrayer Conditions of life for middle class Debut: The Season of White Nights, 1959
Social criticism – moral questions Welfare state – individual Freedom – responsibility Ethical choices Rootlessness and confusion The past The random scheme of things Mixed motives for the characters A door that is never closed
What if?? Speculative fiction Dystopia or Utopia – or just a technocratic society? Similarities? The Little Mermaid – Hans Christian Andersen, 1835
Novel begins in 1973 Divided into three separate sections 1973, 1995, and 2022 Bruno Jenny Dr. Ackerman “Freezing Down” process allows people to essentially live forever Bruno and Jenny’s relationship is central
Life versus Death Class Division/Life as a Commodity Loss of Humanity Quest for Perfection Entrapment Colors
Central theme of the book Central characters comment on living life to the fullest, contrasting to the dystopia created by “Freezing Down” technology Eternity leads to the loss of meaning in life and the loss of urgency – the fierce urgency of now! “But it’s no longer life that you believe in,” said Bruno. “It’s eternity. The two things have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.” “And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” ~Abraham Lincoln “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” ~Mark Twain “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while you could miss it.”~Ferris Bueller's Day Off
In a consumer-based culture, we always want what we can’t have and we never sit back and appreciate what actually do have The downfall of capitalism and the consumer culture Bruno at first loves Jenny—love at first sight and love in the truest, sincerest sense—didn’t sexually objectify her In the new material society: women become objects for male sexuality there is no emotion in the sexual relations Intensification, establishment of class divisions – Now-Life vs. All-Life – Doctors and Politicians vs. Everyone else Marshall McLuhan: “One thing about which fish know exactly nothing is water, since they have no anti-environment which would enable them to perceive the element they live in.”
Choice -From complete choice, to partial choice, to no choice -reproductive choice -mate choice -Bruno has organs removed without his permission Art/Culture -magazines -music -no literature, just boring books about dull topics (Locomotives) -ballet-timeless Religion Feelings -love?
Body – Freezing Down Language -1984 Technology -synthetic organs Food -Bruno yearns for real food in the end Weather/Nature -control of the weather
The Freezing down process itself 1995: The window in his room facing the billboards 2022: Bruno’s room is completely windowless Pills (Eternol, etc.) Armpit Ticker Wrist Food Tube Using the tube to “escape” Bruno’s Final Prison
Progression to Monochromatic -Move to uniformity -Shows that even the simplest things can be controlled and perfected Uniforms/Clothing – 1973- a woman who drew Bruno’s blood wore a white coat and the patients wore red or blue striped hospital pajamas with black hospital robe – 1995- the nurses wore blue coveralls like the doctors with tight blue caps, which hid their hair, and blue tights and blue boots – 2022-everything is green Green as a Symbol of Youth and Fertility Blue was the doctors’ first choice -Blue is a symbol of unity -Everyone was together as one in the society The men in the yellow suits -yellow Pills, yellow Tulips
Immortality = quantity Living and working to prolong living and working Mice in a wheel Ultimate purpose? Quality of life Living to enjoy Dissipation? Depravation? The Good Life? Life after Death?
1)What is the symbolism of the last three pages of the book? How does the structure of the writing add to the end? 2)How do work and life relate to one-another in changing ways throughout the book? Why is this meaningful? 3)What is the role of women and how do these roles change in the three sections? 4)How is this book a commentary on the time it was written? Is it relevant to contemporary society? 5)What is the significance of Bruno Jr.?