Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Ebbe Klövedal Reich. Kong Skildpadde (1985)


The title means 'King Turtle'. I speak no Danish, and know nothing about this book except that (a) the Danish for turtle, 'Skildpadde', is a very cool word, (b) the review below (by Svend Birke Espegdrd Risskov, in World Literature Today) makes the novel sound interesting in a bizarre and reactionary sort of way, and (c) it was, as you can see, originally published with a terrible, terrible cover. From Risskov's review:
The great villain of Kong Skildpadde is the secret organization "Axionion," which combines European Union ideas with a total regimentation of all individuals. The plot of the novel accelerates when Axionion chooses Denmark as the site for initial implementation of its plan. Democracy is put out of power, a hallucinogenic colalike beverage is distributed, and one of the former young rebels, Erling, is assigned to unify the mass media. In reaction against the "imperialistic disease," nature creates a mystical power, the mouthpiece of which is another former young rebel turned vicar, Tue. By a universal transmigration of souls he inherits the power of the late turtle (!) Tui Malila, King of the Tonga Islands (near New Zealand) for two hundred years. Tue gains curative power over animals, becoming a new Jesus of the Gnostic school ... In this fantastic and simplistic story Reich has portrayed his own generation of the sixties in a fierce yet funny way. He shows particular concern for the women of that era, who have never lost contact with nature. As a reader, one can accept Reich's metaphysics and political prejudices because he is a captivating and amusing storyteller. In many respects, in fact, one is reminded of the Czech writer Karel Capek's classic anti-Nazi novel, The War with the Newts (1936).

4 comments:

Jonathan M said...

'Skilpadde' is indeed a good word. But it is not as fine a word as the German word for 'Turtle': Schildkröte

Jessica said...

Or indeed the Dutch for 'spacehopper': Skippybal!

Some dude said...

Skildpadde diretly translated is shelltoad. I think

Adam Roberts said...

Some dude: that makes it even sweeter, somehow.