Vi, de druknede

  • Country in which the text is set
    Denmark and international locations
  • Featured locations

    Marstal, Ærø

  • Impact
    We, the Drowned opens in 1848, amid the gunpowder smoke and thundering cannons of the first Schleswig War, and closes in 1945, as RAF bombers open fire on a ship’s deck. The broad-based narrative follows three generations of sailors from Marstal – and one pair of boots.
    When Laurids Madsen’s ship is blown up in 1848, he is hurled high into the air, only to land back in his boots again. But his experiences in the war and the strange significance of the boots weigh more heavily upon Laurids than anyone suspects. He later disappears, leaving the boots and his family behind. When his son Albert grows up, he puts on the boots and sallies forth into the world to find his father.
    Before Albert hangs up his boots, or rather dies standing in them as a monument to his life, he must first bear witness to the fall of the men of Marstal during World War One. The legacy of the boots then passes, at least in a metaphorical sense, to Knud Erik Friis.
    His mother does not want her boy to go to sea, but the decision is not hers to make. So with his inheritance from Albert and a somewhat embittered heart, Knud Erik departs, only to meet, like Laurids before him, death, love and his own moral disintegration.
    In addition to the three main characters, who are related by either blood or spirit, a chorus of boys’ and sailors’ voices tell the tale of Marstal. But We, the Drowned is not simply the story of the town’s men. Women also have a role to play, especially in the second half, both as a part of the chorus and as individuals. One particular female character’s drive pits her against the men. At first she is bashfulness personified, but when she attempts to pursue her dreams upon coming into money, she finds herself living a nightmare. Like a female Captain Ahab stranded upon dry land, she fights a long, hard and ultimately futile battle against the sea.
    Carsten Jensen has produced a masterpiece: a historical novel of life, death and war at sea, reminiscent of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The brutalised, resourceful sailors, the ‘We’ of the title, drive the narrative forward with a kind of morbid glee that elicits both cramped palpitations and robust laughter from the reader. Instead of looking inwards, contemplating their bruised and battered psyches, Jensen’s sailors choose to go out into the world and act. As the book approaches its conclusion, the dramatic tension reaches unbearable new heights, but Jensen skilfully holds all the strands together.
    We, the Drowned has been a bestseller both in Danish and English.
    Ide Hejlskov, critic and writer
  • Balticness
    Much of the story is set on the Danish island of Ærø in the Baltic Sea. The first chapter displays the Danish-German battle of 1848 in the Bay of Eckernförde.
  • Bibliographic information

    Carsten Jensen, Vi, de druknede, Gyldendal, 2006. ISBN: 13-978-87-02-04723-3.

    Carsten Jensen, Wir Ertrunkenen. Albrecht Knaus Verlag 2008.

    Casten Jensen, We, the Drowned, Harvill Secker, 2010.

  • Translations
    Language Year Translator
    English 2010 Charlotte Barslund
    Finnish 2009 Pirkko Talvio-Jaatinen & Jelena Vallenius
    German 2008 Ulrich Sonnenberg
    Norwegian 2008 Mie Hidle
    Polish 2008 Iwona Zimnicka
    Swedish 2008 Leo Andersson
  • Year of first publication
  • Place of first publication

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