OCEANEN – THE OCEAN
By Steve Sem-Sandberg
In the fall of 1765 Jean-Jacques Rousseau spends 45 days at Île Saint-Pierre, an island in the republic Bern. Works such as Julie; or The New Heloise, The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right and Emile, or On Education have in just a few years made the philosopher one of the most spoken of persons in Europe. Not least does the enlightened arguments about religion in Emile, or On Education, raise offense and he is hunted, first from France, thereafter Schweiz, accused of being an apostate.
Steve Sem-Sandberg’s The Ocean is a strong and gripping novel about an uncompromising solitaire whose only refuge he can possibly see lies in the plants that he collects on the island. But soon the philosopher can’t flee any longer. At night come the irreconcilable dreams, and actions from the past he has long chosen to not acknowledge barge in, just like the water rising around the island.
ABOUT THE BOOK
First published by Albert Bonniers Förlag 2022-09-09
RIGHTS SOLD TO
Denmark, Forlaget Palomar
Greece, Alexandria Publications
Sweden, Albert Bonnier
The novel turns into one of the writing’s possible freedom, longing for romantic love and the rare moments of inner peace. Most end up in painful humiliation.
Steve Sem–Sandberg has an extraordinary capacity to bring out the oppressive feeling of being imprisoned by hostile circumstances and one’s own shortcomings. The meeting between him and Rousseau is lovingly, like between two close friends.
Sem-Sandberg focuses on Rousseau’s view on nature, without lecturing but instead lets it become present when the philosopher rows on his daily botanic excursions, preferably with a teachable boy after him like an Émile. As always the stylistic is seductive; the saturated, poetic language that could turn any matter into shimmering gold. It’s almost occult.
Steve Sem-Sandberg writes calmly and flowing and beautifully. Enrolls in a highly literary European tradition, with a clear confidence from international awards and the chair in the Swedish Academy.
– Sveriges radio
”The Ocean” is an aching novel about duplicities. About at once being a loadstar and paria. About human’s never one sided balance act to live a worthy life. I hope it will be read by many.
Maybe it’s imagination, but to me it seems like “The Ocean” in Sem-Sandberg’s authorship marks the transition to a new phase. Here everything melts together in a fortunate symbios, sheer nature writing, playful expositions about medical herbs, theological arguments; a quiet and intense whirl that lets us see the things in a new way.
– Tidningen Vi
And now it has to be said: what a novel this is!
As a reader I follow him closely, startled, fascinated and seduced. I can’t but state that Sem-Sandberg once again has written a nuanced and brilliant portrayal – that essentially is about the difficulty in living as you learn. This is great art.
Shortly: A masterpiece.
– Tidningen Fokus