Fredrik Lång: Av vad är lycka. En Krösusroman [From what is happiness. A Croesus novel]

4 December 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Av vad är lycka. En Krösusroman
[From what is happiness. A Croesus novel]
Helsingfors: Schildts & Söderströms, 2012. 221 p.
ISBN 978-951-523-002-7
€20.25, hardback

What is happiness? According to the Western thought, happiness is to have, to own, and whenever possible to get even more – it is interesting to find out what our forefathers thought about the question before it was answered. This is precisely what Fredrik Lång does in this novel, the best since the ancient-inspired Mitt liv som Pythagoras (‘My life as Pythagoras’, 2005). Lång describes the Lydian king Kroisos, the richest man of his day, and his attempt to overthrow the wise Greek Solon’s idea that moderation and a contemplative lifestyle lead to happiness. Even if the driving force behind this novel is philosophical, it is brought alive with graphic depictions, extravagant battlefield scenes, intrigue and heartrending romance. Lång’s narrative is often ironic or comical, yet it still manages to emphasise the hard lives of its characters and the complete and utter inequality between master and slave, rich and poor, man and woman. Despite the immersion in the past, it is his own time Lång writes about, sometimes via shameless anachronism, sometimes subtle hints.
Translated by Claire Dickenson

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