Jac the Clown

Jac the Clown

Hjalmar Bergman

Translated by Hanna Kalter Weiss

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English translation of the last and arguably the most significant of Hjalmar Bergman's works.
Hjalmar Bergman is one of the most important figures in twentieth-century Swedish literature, and his last novel, Jac the Clown (1930), is widely considered to be his best and most innovative work. Shaped by his own experiences as a Hollywood script writer, and tragi-comic in tone, it tells the story of Benjamin 'Benbé' Borck, who travels to America to visit his famous artist cousin, the 'clown' of the title, Jac Tracbac, alias Jonathan Borck, Bergman's alter ego; his trip is bizarre and almost surreal, as is the eponymous Jac, whom Bergman depicts as attempting to break out of the commercial exploitation of Hollywood. In his catechism at the end of the novel Jac makes public the origins and purpose of his (and Bergman's) art; depending on and provoking an audience's laughter, it is shown to spring from and reflect the fear and anguish which are central to the human condition, but also to allow these emotions to be dispelled through laughter. Dr Weiss's sensitive translation brilliantly conveys the spirit and tone of the original.


"Written in 20 chapters as a radio series, this story of the tragic clown reflects the author's interest in Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd as well as the influence of writers like Dostoyevsky and a host of symbolist and Expressionist painters in Europe. . . . Camden House is to be congratulated for adding another classic to its series of titles in Scandinavian literature and literary criticism. Highly recommended for all libraries." CHOICE

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