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Doktor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg
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Doktor Glas (original 1905; edition 2010)

by Hjalmar Söderberg

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6962513,671 (4.09)74
Member:ulftorbjorn
Title:Doktor Glas
Authors:Hjalmar Söderberg
Info:Stockholm : Bonnier, 2010
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Doctor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg (1905)

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» See also 74 mentions

English (11)  Swedish (5)  Dutch (3)  Danish (2)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  English (25)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Another rare source for my voracious reading machine is the occasional mention in a novel of another novel. Most often these are made up, but every once in a while one turns out to be a published novel. Such was the case with Swedish author Hjalmar Söderberg mentioned several times by Fredrik Backman in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Söderberg’s short novel, Doctor Glas turned out to be a very popular novel by an acclaimed author. According to the blurb on the paper back version, Söderberg lived from 1869 to 1941, He is considered one of the greatest writers in the Swedish language. Doctor Glas, his third novel, was first published in 1905.

The novel has the expected Spartan language, along with a healthy amount of introspection, topped off with some serious angst. Doctor Glas is a young physician in Stockholm. One of his patients is a local parish priest, Gregorious, who is about 20 years older than his lovely young wife, Helga. She comes to Glas for a solution to her unhappy marriage. The doctor falls seriously in love with Helga. Meanwhile, a number of women come to the surgery for help with an abortion, which is illegal in Sweden at the time. He refuses each time, despite some pretty desperate pleas for help. When a couple of feeble attempts at freeing Helga, Glas begins to toy with the idea of “rescuing” Helga by murdering her ageing husband.

In this passage, Glas agonizes in his journal over failed love. He writes, “No, I don’t understand it. Why must it be? Why does it always have to be like this? Why does love have to be faerie gold that on the next day turns into withered leaves, or dirt, or gruel? From the human longing for love a whole branch of culture has sprung up – everything, indeed, that does not immediately pertain to quieting hunger of vanquishing enemies. Our sense of beauty has no other source. All art, all poetry all music has drunk from it. The tawdriest modern history painting no less than a Rafael Madonna and Steinlen’s little worker women, Dödens ängel no less than the “Song of Solomon” and the Buch der Lieder, church chorales and Vienna Waltzes, indeed every piece of ornamental plaster in this modest house where I live, every design on the wallpaper, the shape of the porcelain vase over there and the pattern on my cravat – everything that would decorate and embellish, whether it succeeds or fails, derives from it, though sometimes remotely and circuitously. And this notion is no nocturnal whimsy of mine, but has been demonstrated a hundred times. // But the true name of that source is not love, but the dream of love” (17-18).

Another example of his introspection is his musing on happiness. Glas writes, “And I often wonder what sort of environment I’d choose for myself if I’d never read a book and never seen a work of art – maybe then it’d never even occur to me to choose at all; maybe the archipelago with its little hillocks would be good enough for me. Most likely all my dreams and thoughts about nature are founded on impressions I’ve taken from art and fiction. From art I’ve learned my longing to wander aimlessly among old Florentine flower meadows and rock upon Homer’s wine-dark sea and bend my knee at Böcklin’s Sacred Grove. Oh, what would my own poor eyes see in the world, left to their own devices, without all these hundreds and thousands of teachers and friends from among those who’ve written and thought and seen for the rest of us! In my youth I often thought: But that I might join them! But that I might be capable of joining them, those who for once could give, not just forever receive! It is so desolate to walk alone with a fruitless soul; you never know how you might manage to feel that you are something, that you have some significance, and gain a little respect for yourself. It’s most likely a great boon that the majority are so undemanding in this regard. I wasn’t, and long has it pained me, though I think the worst is over now” (53-54).

I enjoyed this clever little novel. Now all I have to do is figure out how Söderberg’s Doctor Glas fits in with Backman. 5 stars

--Jim, 3/27/16 ( )
  rmckeown | Apr 24, 2016 |
"Can a man allow the one he loves to be violated and defiled and trampled before his very eyes?", 8 September 2015

This review is from: Doctor Glas: A Novel (Paperback)
An extremely compelling read: a diary by the eponymous doctor, a 34 year old who has never been with a woman. One day he is approached by Helga Gregorius, the lovely young wife of the grotesque elderly pastor. She seeks the Doctor's assistance in somehow avoiding the attentions of her husband which are repugnant to her - especially as she has a lover...
As we read the Doctor's diary, we learn of his opinions - forward thinking for the time (1905) - on such matters as euthanasia and abortion, although he dismisses young woman who seek his help for the latter, thinking of his career. But there could be exceptions to the Doctor's professionalism: "Morality is made for man, not man for morality; and it is to be used with discretion, taken 'with a pinch of salt'. It is prudence to adopt to the customs of one's surroundings; it is a folly to do so with conviction."
We read too of his loneliness, and the emptiness of his life, as the weeks roll past in a hot Stockholm summer...
I read this in one sitting. Compulsive - but I would've liked a more definitive conclusion. ( )
  starbox | Sep 7, 2015 |
Brooding. Creepy, but also quite poignant, like a philosophical version of "The Tell-Tale Heart".
  rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
Doctor Glas is a Swedish classic that I hated when I had to read in high school. Now I think it is absolutely fantastic with memorable quotes inserted in the text. The daydreaming doctor who take disgust towards his patient's husband. So bad that he plans to murder him so his wife can escape him. The novel is a unique classic with its melancholy, but thoughtful language. ( )
1 vote Drusus | Sep 8, 2011 |
This short book deals with a doctor's obsession with a married woman abused by her husband. In his solitary life, his outlet for his thoughts and feelings is his diary, the medium by which we learn the story. It is a psychological story turning over moral issues and the effect they have in those tortured by them. Like Ibsen, feels modern for its time in its background of social change, but the ethical questions covered are timeless. ( )
  rrmmff2000 | Jul 18, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hjalmar Söderbergprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hart, Maarten 'tAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raaff, HenkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, RochelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Jag har aldrig sett en sådan sommar.
I've never known a summer like it.
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Man vill bli älskad, i brist därpå beundrad, i brist därpå fruktad, i brist därpå avskydd och föraktad. Man vill ingiva människorna något slags känsla. Själen ryser för tomrummet och vill kontakt till vad pris som helst.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385722672, Paperback)

Stark, brooding, and enormously controversial when first published in 1905, this astonishing novel juxtaposes impressions of fin-de-siècle Stockholm against the psychological landscape of a man besieged by obsession. Lonely and introspective, Doctor Glas has long felt an instinctive hostility toward the odious local minister. So when the minister’s beautiful wife complains of her husband’s oppressive sexual attentions, Doctor Glas finds himself contemplating murder. A masterpiece of enduring power, Doctor Glas confronts a chilling moral quandary with gripping intensity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:47 -0400)

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