Per Olov Enquist

Per Olov Enquist was born in 1934 in Hjoggbölle, a village in northern Sweden. A leading figure in contemporary European letters, he resides in Stockholm as a novelist, essayist, playwright and a political commentator. His literary debut was in 1961 with The Crystal Eye. Numerous novels followed, including: The Magnetist´s Fifth Winter (1964), The March of the Musicians (1974), Downfall (1985) and Captain Nemo´s Library (1991). “His work is a meditation on language, silence, suffering mixed with the mystery of resurrection.” Recently, Enquist has focused on drama : The Night of the Tribades (1976), Strindberg: A Life (1984), The Hour of the Lynx (1988), The Magic Circle (1994) and The Image Makers (1998), which will be premiered in Czech at the Komedie Theatre in honour of his visit to Prague.
Downfall (part)

They lived and died trapped in each other. At first unhappily, then – it must have been happiness. He carried her as a miner carries a lamp on his forehead; through this lamp came darkness and light, just the way it always is.
In the mirror he could see her face, the eyes that opened and closed, the helplessly blinking eyelids, as in a captured young deer, the mouth. He touched her cheek slowly. He had wanted to kiss her, but of course could not. He thought that she was beautiful. He had not wanted to keep her trapped, but still he was her prison. There was a time when she hated him for it.
Then she had understood.
She was trapped in his head, he trapped in her. Trapped in each other they lived close to the outermost limit, their marriage was a situation not out of the ordinary, though possibly more explicit. For his whole life he carried her, first with rage and hatred, then with patience and resignation, then at last with love.
The last years he always wanted to fall asleep with his hand against her cheek.
He died in the evening on 21 April 1933 in a hospital in Orange Country, Los Angeles. The nurse who had looked after him during the last year, and whose name was Helen, stayed at his side all the time. His death was painless: when he died, and the large, dark face was still and the arm fell, then it was as easy as when a bird rises from a lake, soundlessly and lightly, rises through the night mist and disappears; completely quiet, silent. Then it is gone.
According to the case notes, Maria died eight minutes after him.
When he died she had first opened her eyes wide, with an expression of unspeakable terror, as if she had at once understood what had happened; her mouth, which had attempted to transmit message all her life, moved as if she was asking for help. But no sound came out, not this time either. Not a sound. For a few minutes it was as if she was desperately trying to shout out a message to someone out there, maybe it was meant for him, maybe in her terror she tried to call him back. But the bird had flown, the night mist lay unmoving over the lake again, and she was alone.
What did she want to call out? No one knows. One should not attempt to explain love. But if we did not try, what would we be?
Then suddenly she became quiet calm, and her eyes filled with tears. The bird had flown, and she was alone; this was the second they had seen her cry. The first time was when she had been sitting on the steps of the caravan, after the crisis was over, and the dogman had caressed her cheek with a feather from a bird’s wing. Now was the second time, but she was calm. She was prepared to take the unbelievable step in that short span of being alone, straight out into the giddy emptiness, but she would make it. She lay there quiet still now, staring straight up, looking straight through everything as if nothing could have stopped her. Then her lips parted slowly, in a very faint but unmistakable smile, she closed her eyes, and died. That was eight minutes after him.
For eight minutes she had been alone.

Dreamt tonight again about Pinon.
We were on an enormous ice plain; it must have been near the Pole. Our ship had been ground to pieces by the ice, and we were marching; but the Pole was not our goal.
It was a very small expedition: it consisted of Pinon and his Maria, myself, K, his wife, the boy, and Ruth B. Ruth was carrying the hatbox in her hand, and looked sweet,
for the first time she looked happy, chatting with the head in the hatbox; it was as if they had finally come together and all the old things were forgotten. No more rows. Clear air, high sun. We walked quickly, almost floated ahead through the landscape, it was as if there were no obstacles. Our feet hardly touched the ice. Pinon walked in the lead, holding his huge, double head high. Maria’s eyes were open, scanning from side to side.
How quickly we walked. How weightlessly. How easily we moved. We journeyed smilingly, as if knowingly. It was not only the fantastic whiteness, the enormity of the blocks of ice, but also the feeling that we liked each other so much, that we had learnt so much from each other. We formed an organism, we had suddenly understood that. Together we could solve the problem, for it was only together that we made up a human being. Together we would reach the goal, carry out the enormous task.
It was a feeling of quiet happiness and resolution, we were all going to help. Ruht and the boy and K and his wife and I and Pasqual and Maria. Together we formed a human being.
We knew where we were going. We had all, for a long time, seen the sign far away in the distance: it was the albatross which circled and circled high up there. High, a thousand metres high up, it looked as if had been stuck up there, that was how still its flight was.
That is where it must be.
How quiet it was, how silent. Without effort we floated onwards, hand in hand, all almost with a smile on our lips.
Then all of a sudden we arrived. We arrived at the grave in the ice. It was Pinon who found it. It was of course also self-evident, he had walked ahead, it was he who would find the way for me. He pointed. Maria’s eyes blinked intently, she looked at the ice-grave, then at me. I felt the boy touched my hand, as if he had wanted to help me, or tell me not to be afraid. But I was not afraid at all.
We are there now, Pinon said.
I saw at once who it was. He was lying stretched out on his back in the ice-grave. It was Daddy, just as in the corpse picture. The Italians had left him here. They had taken off almost all his clothes, taken his food, cut out a coffin in the white, blue-shimmering, almost transparent ice, and laid him there while ha was still alive. The melting water had frozen to a thin film of ice, but it was transparent, one could see that ha was lying with open eyes, looking straight up, looking straight up through the opaque film of eyes.
And Pinon said: now you have arrived. Now it is your turn.
He gave me the bird’s wing feather. It was white, I recognized it. I bent over and looked: and so still had bird been, hovering high up there, that its lines had etched themselves into the film of ice, drawn their outlines on the ice. I leaned forward, breathed on the film of ice, stroked it with the feather at the same time. The ice bird disappeared slowly, the face emerged, and it was I.