The third and final part of Tove Ditlevsen’s autobiography almost draws you into a dependency to it until you turn the very last page. After a less engaging middle part, “Youth”, this one has definitely left me under an impactful impression. Just as the title suggests it, this part of the story deals with the parts of the author’s life linked to addiction. After finishing the book, I realised that this must have been the only (or one of the very few books) that I read on that topic. It’s still eerie thinking back to how the author managed to wrap-up some of the most awful days, months and years in her life and transformed them into a beautiful piece of writing.
“I kept standing there, while the yearning for small white pills, which were so easy to get, rose inside me like a dark liquid. Horrified, I realized while I stood there that the longing was inside me like rot in a tree, or like an embryo growing all on its own, even though you want nothing to do with it.” (p. 130)
“It will never disappear completely for as long as I live.” (p. 144)
Even though the style stays less poetic and more similar to the second part, “Youth”, the calm way of the author describing horrific events in her life puts you in a constant state of tension while reading. I devoured this book up within just a single day and have become extremely curious to read some of the author’s other works.
“An hour later the harvester starts cutting out in the field, and the sun lifts its yellow forehead up behind the pine woods.” (p. 55)
“I tell her about my childhood too, and our pasts come alive between us like a section of a wall teeming with life.” (p. 54)
There is an enormous amount of topics touched upon within the brief 144 pages of the book that are just as relevant and important nowadays, as they were at the time of its first publication: The world of marriage and the interactions between couples, the topic of abortion and the freedom of a woman’s decision upon her body (especially due to strict laws currently being put in place in the States and in Poland, completely forbidding it), motherhood, the drive behind passionate work and most importantly, addiction. I believe this book is extremely relevant for those wanting to get an intimate peek into an addict’s mind, which was absolutely eye-opening to me, offering deep psychological insights.
“I say, Now we are a father, mother and child – a normal regular family. Ebbe asks, Why do you want to be normal and regular? Everyone knows you’re not. I don’t know how to answer him, but I have wanted that as far back as I can remember.” (p. 43)
All in all, if I were to judge “Childhood”, “Youth” and “Dependency” all together within a single book, it would definitely be a 5/5 ★ rating for me (with a bit of a slower part throughout about 100 pages in the middle). Reach out to this one if you’re interested in getting into the minds of artists, creatives, writers and all the processes that make them human outside of the works of art that they create.
Edition: ISBN 978-0-241-39174-7
Penguin Classics, 2019