Boken om Blanche och Marie / The Story of Blanche and Marie (2004)

Blanche Wittmann was admitted as a young patient to the psychiatric clinic at the Salpètriére Hospital in Paris. Her doctor was J M Charcot, renowned throughout the world as the first doctor to use hypnotism in the treatment of women who suffered what was then called hysteria. Among the visitors to his public seances were August Strindberg, Axel Munthe and the young Freud.

When Charcot died, Blanche got better and started working as an assistant to the Polish-French Nobel laureate Marie Curie. They became very close and Blanche knew of Marie’s misfortune when her love affair with a married colleague Paul Langevin caused a scandal at the same time as Marie received her second Nobel Prize for her discovery of radium. Blanche died in 1913, seriously injured by the radiation she had been subjected to.

Press Voices:

“The more you read, the more dazzlingly impressed you become… Enquist has never written any prose freer and more beautiful than this.”  Leif Zern, Expressen 

“In his new novel, Per Olov Enquist makes his way into those innermost points of pain where love is concerned… Enquist writes around a little extract from contemporary history in a manner that resembles a still, late-night conversation between two friends, a conversation without prestige, open, full of invention…” Anders Paulrud, Aftonbladet “… an exceptionally heartfelt and beautiful novel…” Annina Rabe, Svenska Dagbladet

… a seductive mixture of fictional and authentic material and with a mocking personal sub-text… the gently rhetorical style has a poetic pull which is hard to resist… a book about the entry into 20th century modernity: control and chaos, rationality and confusion, religious and erotic passion, the link between politics and science.”  Gun Zanton-Ericsson, Östgöta Correspondenten

“… majestically rich and captivating about the sort of invisible radiation that is known as ‘love’… Per Olov Enquist’s distinct language – often with a poetic gloss – is, as usual, one of the most beautiful in our literature… Love does exist, it is dangerous and easily turns ugly. But be that is it may, it is all we have even though its duration may be limited. That is P O Enquist’s most important purpose with this book, steeped with melancholy and sorrow, yet not without a significant tone of comfort.”  Bo-Ingvar Kollberg, Uppsala Nya Tidning “With Boken om Blanche och Marie, P O Enquist is embarking on the quest for the love that creates a sense of belonging… a bold and naked attempt to explain that which cannot be explained. It can’t get much better than this.”  Ingrid Elam, Göteborgs Posten “Enquist’s new novel places love in the focal point, this being the aspect of human life most susceptible to pain, but [the novel] also wants to catch all the movements in the late 19th century which came to leave their mark on the following century. His new book is rich and with so many angles…”  Carl Magnus Hedefalk, Värmlands Folkblad “As always when it comes to Enquist, it is difficult to know where the documentary ends and the fiction starts. Plain facts are interspersed with dazzling poetry… however reluctantly he deals with the overwhelmingly rich, almost too powerful story, it grabs hold of you, sweeps you along, forces itself onto you. And it ends up a magnificent
, majestic song of love, dirty and beautiful and broken.”  Ann Lingebrandt, Norrköpings Tidningar

“… this novel is irresistible.”  Maj Britt Lundström, Smålands Tidningen

“Per Olov Enquist’s style is suggestive. Regardless of whether he expresses himself in short, abrupt phrases or in longer sequences, he causes the reader to listen to his narrative voice… a masterly construction of a novel.”  Per-Ove Ohlson, Borås Tidning “…this novel… manages to hit me spot-on, in my deepest experiences of being a woman.”  Eva Hultin, Nerikes Allehanda

“… he is one of the contemporary novel’s greatest human investigators.”  Paul Binding, Independent on Sunday


In October 2014 the opera Blanche & Marie premiered at Norrlandsoperan in Umeå to fantastic reviews. “A timeless opera well suitable for international opera houses” Kulturnyheterna, Swedish Television


International Editions:

Denmark – Samleren 2004
Latvia – Atena 2004
France – Actes Sud 2004
Germany – Carl Hanser 2004
Norway – Gyldendal 2004
The Netherlands – Ambo/Anthos 2004
Finland – Gummerus 2004
Great Britian – Harvill/Secker 2004
Italy – Iperborea 2004
Russia – Limbakh Publs 2004
Lithuania – Lithuanian Writer’s Union Publishers 2004
USA – The Overlook Press 2004
Spain – Destino 2004
Hungary – Europa 2004
Romania – Humanitas 2005
Croatia – Fraktura 2005
The Czech Republic – Host 2005
Slovakia – Milaneum Press 2005
Poland – Santorski 2005
Korea – Woongjin Thinkbig 2005
Greece – Papyros Publishing group 2007
Serbia – Evro Giunti Publishers 2007
Vietnam – The Literature Publishing House 2009
Bosnia Hercegovina – Vrijeme 2009
Slovenia – Studentska Zalozba Academic 2010
Turkey – Everest Yayinlari 2015
Macedonia – Antolog 2015
The Ukraine – Old Lion Publishing House 2015

Blanche2004O_Boken om Blanche och Marie_UKO_Boken om Blanche och Marie ITO_Boken om Blanche och Marie_DEO_Bogen om Blanche og Marie_Denmark