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The Royal Physician's Visit: A Novel by Per…
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The Royal Physician's Visit: A Novel (original 1999; edition 2002)

by Per Olov Enquist, Tiina Nunnally (Translator)

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918309,559 (3.68)40
Member:saucybetty
Title:The Royal Physician's Visit: A Novel
Authors:Per Olov Enquist
Other authors:Tiina Nunnally (Translator)
Info:Washington Square Press (2002), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
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The Royal Physician's Visit: A Novel by Per Olov Enquist (1999)

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» See also 40 mentions

English (15)  Italian (5)  German (3)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I don't know anything about the history of this novel. I can't compare it to anything factual, and I can't criticize what facts are or aren't included in the story. What I can do is look at this book as a reader and try to describe what a joy it was to read. I found the characters to be real, with the goodness or flaws of any normal human being throughout time. I found good events and bad and was faced with things happening to characters that I couldn't at all agree with, but there were also triumphs within the characters that occasionally made me smile with pride or pleasure.

I loved the writing style, putting you in to a history that your mind usually sees with detachment. It isn't often that you can read a historical novel and experience what is written as if it had happened before your eyes or in your recent memory, especially when there are torments and trouble involved. The Royal Physician's Visit does an excellent job bringing the feelings of the past back into the history we so often cast aside as an unemotional piece of writing on a dusty shelf. I enjoyed every page of this book. ( )
  mirrani | Dec 15, 2013 |
I started reading this one summer several years ago, but got stuck somewhere about two thirds in, and abandoned it. Feeling I should really try to read in Swedish more often, before I forget everything I know, I picked it up again and went back to the beginning. My Danish history of the 18th century isn't really up to scratch, and having finished this novel, I think I'd rather like to read a non-fiction treatment of the period.

The focus in the Livläkarens besök is in the four or five year period in late 1760s and early 1770s when Christian, the young king of Denmark, is looked after by a German doctor with ambitions to put enlightenment philosophies into practice and who ends up with the power to do just that as well as falling for Christian's English wife. The book follows several characters, mainly ones who are or have in a position of influence over Christian, and I think I'd have preferred if it had mainly focused on just one, but on the whole, it was OK. ( )
  mari_reads | Sep 6, 2012 |
Reading historical novels like this one, I find myself wondering why I don’t delve into this genre more often. Enqvist’s book is well-researched, opens up a part of my regional history I had no idea of - and reads like a thriller.

In Denmark in the middle of the 18th century, the nobility is holding the power. A string of weak kings, more interested in drinking and sleeping around than ruling, have in practice left the reins to the people around them. Strong powers of course wishes things remain this way. Therefor focus on the upbringing of the young Christian is on breaking him down. It’s quite horrid the brutal and contradictory treatment he goes through, and by the time he as a teenager inherits the throne he is psychotic and paranoid, broken and scared.

A Royal Physician is hired, with the specific task of looking after the king. The German Struensee is reluctant at first, but soon realizes the potential in this spot. Struensee is very involved in the Enlightenment movement, and after winning the king’s trust and channeling it through him, he quietly and methodically starts a Danish Revolution from his desk. He is changing things radically – cutting down funds for the army, giving legal rights to bastard children, reducing taxes, intorcucing freedom of speech. And he strikes up a strange friendship with the troubled young king, who is all too thankful to have someone else doing the ruling.

The other two major players in this novel are the young queen Caroline Mathilde, youngest sister to the mad king George of England, who is thrown into this retarded little backwater country and given a husband who is insane – but who realizes she is both capable and eager to exercise power. She becomes Struensee’s strongest ally, and his lover. And finally Guldberg, an upstart at the court, from common background like Struensee, but one who is working his influence on the other side of things. The reaction that is bound to come towards the ungodly conduct of the dirty English harlot and her German lover. The future, when everything is to be set right again.

Enqvist has a tone telling this mind-boggling story of philosophy, madness, idealism and power that invokes absolute confidence. There's no doubt this book is very well researched. But even when he must be guessing, he is utterly believable in his low-key matter of fact style, which still lends itself to a kind of poetry. The characters are wonderfully drawn in frailty and complexity. And the plot itself is often nail-biting and chilling suspense, even if the inevitable, tragic outcome is clear from the get-go.

A warning that there are some disturbing elements here –including cruelty to children. But if that doesn’t deter you, this is a read I’ll heartily recommend to anyone interested in historical fiction. ( )
7 vote GingerbreadMan | Oct 14, 2011 |
The book covers a lot of historical fact written as history, then slipping seamlessly into the narrative. The author often uses a style of short sentences and repetition, perhaps echoing the dislocating turmoil of the time the book is set. The story was new to me, and presented from the point of view of the royal physician and his good intentions and lack of control (whereas the general view is of him as an adulterer and power politician). A fascinating and engrossing read, 8/10. ( )
  rrmmff2000 | May 5, 2011 |
Historisk roman om Christian den 7. Caroline Mathilde og Struensee. Spændende og medrivende historie. ( )
  silkeborg12 | Apr 26, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Per Olov Enquistprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Giorgetti Cima, CarmenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nunnally, TiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polet, CoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Oplysning er menneskets udgang af dets selvforskyldte umyndighed. Umyndighed er manglen på evne til at bruge sin egen forstand uden en andens vejledning. Selvforskyldt er denne umyndighed, når årsagen ikke er mangel på forstand, men mangel på mod til at bruge forstanden. Til oplysning fordres intet andet end frihed, den frihed som indebærer i alle henseender at gøre offentlig brug af sin fornuft. Thi det er ethvert menneskes kald at tænke selv." (Immanuel Kant, 1784)
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Johan Friedrich Struensee was appointed Royal Physician to King Christian VII on April 5, 1768, and four years later he was executed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743458036, Paperback)

An international sensation, The Royal Physician's Visit magnificently recasts the dramatic era of Danish history when Johann Friedrich Struensee - court physician to mad young King Christian - stepped through an aperture in history and became the holder of absolute power in Denmark. His is a gripping tale of power, sex, love, and the life of the mind, and it is superbly rendered here by one of Sweden's most acclaimed writers. A charismatic German doctor and brilliant intellectual, Struensee used his influence to introduce hundreds of reforms in Denmark in the 1760s. He had a tender and erotic affair with Queen Caroline Mathilde, who was unsatisfied by her unstable, childlike husband. Yet Struensee lacked the subtlety of a skilled politician and the cunning to choose enemies wisely; these flaws proved fatal, and would eventually lead to his tragic demise.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Set in Denmark in the 1760s, The Royal Physician's Visit magnificently recasts the dramatic era of Danish history when Johann Friedrich Struensee, a German doctor from Altona, student of Enlightenment philosophers Diderot and Voltaire, and court physician to mad young King Christian, stepped through the aperture history had opened for him and became for two years the holder of absolute power in Denmark." "Dr. Struensee, tall, handsome, and charismatic, introduced hundreds of reforms, many of which would become hallmarks of the French Revolution twenty years later, including freedom of the press and improvement of the treatment of the peasantry. He also took young Queen Caroline Mathilde - unsatisfied by her unstable, childlike husband - as his mistress. He was a brilliant intellectual and brash reformer, yet Struensee lacked the cunning and subtlety of a skilled politician and, most tragically, lacked the talent to choose the right enemies at court, a flaw which would lead to his torture and execution."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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