Date Published: April 1993
Number of Pages: 256
Print Price: $4.88
eBook Price: $
Faith, sin, and the abuse of power permeate Bathsheba, a spare and disturbing retelling of the familiar Biblical story by one of Sweden’s most internationally successful writers.
Torgny Lindgren is a former teacher, former politician, and one of Sweden’s most successful contemporary writers. He is a member of the Swedish Academy. This novel was published in 1984, around the time of his conversion to Catholicism, and published in English five years later.
In spare, gritty language, not dissimilar to the blunt storytelling in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings, Lindgren recounts David’s later years, his struggles to retain power, and the machinations of his family. The story, however, belongs to Bathsheba, a woman victimized by powerful men who learns to acquire and wield power on her own.
The source material tells the story of David’s seduction of Bathsheba and murder of her husband. Lindgren’s description is to that of rape, followed by the political and religious manipulation of an innocent man, who runs to his own death. Bathsheba quickly learns that she must learn to take power or be destroyed.
The Bible is then silent about Bathsheba until she reappears at the end of David’s story to remind him that he promised his throne to Solomon, not to any of his other sons. Lindgren’s story fills the gap, showing us Bathsheba at David’s side through family rivalry, rebellion, and catastrophe until all other contenders to his throne are dead or neutralized.
The story illustrates power and its abuses—by men over women, by rich over poor, by strong over weak, by priest over believer—from the first page to the last. It is the abiding theme of the novel. Along the way, Lindgren misses none of the seven deadly sins. The action is driven forward by lust, greed, envy, pride, wrath, and even gluttony and sloth. Every character in the book, including Nathan the prophet, exhibits at least one of them; no one escapes. Even as they are engaged in games of power, two questions continually reappear: “What is the nature of the Lord?” and “What is the natural of Love?” Lindgren’s answer is that they are the same and they are great and terrible. We, sinners all, long for both.
The book is difficult and uncomfortable to read. It is however, impossible to ignore.Publisher: HarperCollins
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
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