Isaksson, Ulla

   A Swedish novelist and screenwriter, Isaksson wrote mostly about women who, in one way or another, find themselves in extreme situations. Isaksson grew up in a strongly pietistic middle-class family, and her first novels were overtly religious. Trädet (1940; The Tree) and I denna natt (1942; In This Night) both won prizes in competitions sponsored by the Swedish Evangelical National Foundation, but it was not until Isaksson became divorced that her career as a secular writer took off. Ytterst i havet (1950; By the Outermost Edge of the Sea) recounts her spiritual crisis following the end of her marriage; it questions the power of a loving God in a world of evil and misery. Kvinnohuset (1952; The House of Women) depicts the lives of a series of different women, all of whom have moments of doubt and whose illusions are damaged by the truth. Isaksson's survey of types of women was continued in the short story collection "Dädens faster" (1954; "The Aunt of Death"), in which the title character is a truly horrifying person who preys on those around her in their moments of greatest weakness.
   Isaksson's interest in the time of the witch trials is evident in Dit du icke vill (1956; Whither Thou Wouldst Not Go), which offers heartrending portrayals of the treatment of women accused of witchcraft. Klaänningen (1959; The Dress) analyzes relationships between mothers and daughters as they are gradually transformed through the passage of time. Isaksson speaks in favor of illusion as a power for good in human life; human beings are simply not sufficiently strong to be able to bear the unvarnished truth. De tvaå saliga (1962; tr. The Blessed Ones, 1970) further anatomizes love as both a supportive and destructive force.
   The novel Amanda eller den bla sparvagnen: En roman om drom och verklighet (1969; Amanda, or, the Blue Streetcar: A Novel about Dream and Reality) questions the perception, common at the time, that Sweden had created an ideal society. Paradistorg (1973; Paradise Market) offended some radical feminists by seeming to suggest that women have a particular responsibility for serving as nurturers, while the novel Foädelsedagen (1988; The Birthday) returns to the theme ofhow mothers and daughters relate to one another. Boken om E (1994; The Book about E) recounts the descent of Isaksson's husband, Erik Hjalmar Linder, into Alzheimer's disease.
   Isaksson also wrote several motion picture screenplays, most notably those of Ingmar Bergman's movies Nära livet (1958; released in the United States as Brink of Life) and Jungfrukallan (1960; released in the United States as The Virgin Spring).

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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