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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Seducer

Henrik Stangerup

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Seducer

Title: The Seducer
Author: Henrik Stangerup
Genre: Novel
Written: 1985 (Eng. 1990)
Length: 316 pages
Original in: Danish
Availability: The Seducer - US
The Seducer - UK
The Seducer - Canada
Le sééducteur - France
Es ist schwer, in Dieppe zu sterben - Deutschland
  • It Is Hard to Die in Dieppe
  • Danish title: Det er svært at dø i Dieppe
  • Translated by Sean Martin
  • With a Preface by the author

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Our Assessment:

B+ : heated, but interesting

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
TLS . 15/6/1990 Paul Keegan
TLS . 26/7/1996 Carolyne Larrington

  From the Reviews:
  • "(I)t lays bare, not the essential ideas of a philosopher, but rather the Zeitgeist within which that philosophy flourished. The intense passion which Romanticism engendered, particularly when yoked with nationalism, and the familiar themes of Danish provincialism and French avant-gardism are worked through once more. The Seducer depends heavily on hallucination and dream; unfortunately, Moller's impassioned invocation of Hans Christian Andersen as the greatest genius the Danish people has bred produces a form of Gothic in these scenes which stops just short of the parodic." - Carolyne Larrington, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Like The Road to Lagoa Santa, The Seducer re-traces the life of a (semi-)famous Dane who went (and died) abroad. In this case it is Peder Ludvig Møller, a leading 19th century Danish literary critic (and early supporter of, for example, Hans Christian Andersen), as well as an acquaintance of Søren Kierkegaard -- and a "seducer incarnate", as Stangerup calls him in his Preface.
       Like The Road to Lagoa Santa it is very much a life-story, based closely on fact. Perhaps because Stangerup is closer to the material, it feels more convincing: much of The Seducer describes the struggles of the would-be writer and critic, Møller a man who is constantly scribbling, writing, judging. Not quite an artist, he's constantly struggling (often signing his name as: Pauvre Louis ('Poor Louis'))) -- but has an eye for the talent around him, including Andersen and Meïr Aron Goldschmidt, whom he helps shape the novel En Jøde (A Jew) in some of the book's strongest scenes. And then there's Kierkegaard, the figure at first easily (and cruelly) lampooned but who ultimately establishes himself much more easily in Denmark while Møller goes on to lead a dissolute life abroad.
       Møller does write one work of fiction, Janus, yet another seducer-tale, which Stangerup effectively uses in the book. But while Møller is a man of great drive and passion there's also a self-destructive bent to him: as much as (and whatever) he writes -- and there's barely anything else he can or wants to do --, he rarely gets ahead. All he has are small triumphs (the aesthetics prize at the University of Copenhagen he wins in 1857, for example).
       The Seducer is particularly successful in situating and describing Danish literary culture in 19th century Europe, with all the major players appearing -- and Stangerup showing their relationships, strained and friendly, with one another.
       Møller is an intriguing and dramatic figure, taking literature, sex, and drugs to excess, and Stangerup offers an impressive portrait of the man and the times. Fairly intense, but worthwhile.

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Other books by Henrik Stangerup under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Danish author Henrik Stangerup lived 1937 to 1998.

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