Willumsen, Dorrit

(1940-)
   A Danish short story writer, novelist, and dramatist, Willumsen was abandoned by her parents and grew up with her grandparents, who were kind and loving people. The emotional scars resulting from the abandonment show up as early as in her first book, the short story collection Knagen (1965; The Hook), where the personal sense of loss is combined with a portrayal of the loss of social stability that resulted from Denmark's rapid process of modernization after World War II. While the novel Stranden (1967; The Shore) tells about a young man who feels like a failure after running away from his wife, Willumsen returns to the theme of social change in the novel Da (1968; Then), which draws on her experiences growing up while living with her grandparents in Copenhagen in the 1940s.
   One of the persistent motifs in her early work is the doll metaphor, which in Jungian thought represents the child archetype and gestures at the presence ofunresolved childhood experiences. Willumsen uses the doll imagery as an indication of narcissism in the lives of some of her female characters, who do not have a clear sense of where the boundary lies between themselves and other people, or between themselves and the world. The result is inevitably both a feeling of grandiosity and a sense of powerlessness, which are destructive to these characters and to the people around them.
   Psychic disintegration is also a main theme in the novels The, krydderi, acryl, salær, græshopper (1970; Tea, Spices, Acrylic, Fee, Grasshopper) and Neonhaven (1976; The Neon Garden), in which male fantasies are the agents of destruction. The short story collections Modellen Coppelia (1973; The Model Coppelia) and Hvis det virkelig var en film (1978; tr. If It Really Were a Film, 1982) likewise contain many portraits of precarious mental life in modern society.
   In the novel Manden som paåskud (1980; The Man as Pretext), Willumsen attempts to show how women and men actually relate to each other in modernity. By being evenhanded in her treatment of the subject and refraining from assigning blame, she succeeds in providing a different perspective on an age-old debate. The novel Programmeret til kærlighed (1981; Programmed for Love) features a female robot, created by a woman scientist, that is supposed to be the perfect partner for a man.
   Willumsen has written several historical novels. Marie: En roman om Madame Tussauds liv (1983; tr. Marie: A Novel about the Life of Madame Tussaud, 1986) surveys the life of the woman who created the famous wax museum. Suk hjerte (1986; Sigh Heart) covers 50 years of life in a working-class neighborhood in Copenhagen. The life of the Empress Theodora, wife of Justinian, is the subject of Klædt i purpur (1990; Dressed in Purple). The biography ofthe Danish writer Herman Bang (1857-1912) is fictionalized in the novel Bang (1996).
   Willumsen returned to contemporary life in Koras stemme (2000; Cora's Voice), a soap-opera tale about life in postmodernity,in which a woman believes that she has gotten pregnant by watching a certain pop star on TV. The novel offers a vivid portrait of both personal and social confusion and fragmentation at the beginning ofthe new millennium.
   De kattens feriedage (1997; Cat Vacation) is a short novel told from a cat's point of view. In Tøs: Et hundeliv (2001; Tøs: A Dog's Life), the animal lover Willumsen writes a sort of biography about her dog. Willumsen has also written the drama Caroline (1985) as well as a number of radio plays. She was awarded the Nordic Literary Prize in 1997.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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  • Dorrit Willumsen — (born 31 August 1940 in Nørrebro, Copenhagen) is a Danish writer. She made her literary debut in 1965 with the short story collection Knagen. She was awarded the Nordic Council s Literature Prize in 1997 for the novel Bang: en roman om Herman… …   Wikipedia

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  • Nordic Council's Literature Prize — Nordic Council Literature Prize Awarded for a work of imaginative literature written in one of the Nordic languages Presented by Nordic Council Date Annual, winner announced in the spring Country Nordic countries …   Wikipedia

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  • Theater —    During the Middle Ages, Scandinavian theater followed practices common in Europe at the time, with mystery and morality plays being performed in churchyards and marketplaces, and in connection with religious festivals. After the Reformation,… …   Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater

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