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08:08 Jun 1, 2001
Swedish to English translations [Non-PRO] Tech/Engineering
Kärt Hellerma’s (b.1956) first novel Alchemistry opens with the shutting of a cell door behind the main character, Sarah. All that follows is the retrospect where the things that have happened, expecting the conviction and the death penalty unfold in her sensations and experiences.
What are the things that really happened and what is the almost middle-aged Sarah accused of doing? In the final chapter of the novel Sarah goes to the flat of her lover Leif, who had had to meet her but had failed to show up, and finds him dead, with the murder weapon beside him, in the flat that had been thoroughly messed up. Sarah is not guilty of Leif’s death, but nevertheless she lets herself be arrested and is desiring the sentence condemning her to the electric chair. The guilt that makes Sarah lie is almost metaphysical, and stems from her disability to realise her love in time. Her guilt is the realisation that comes too late. Sarah is on the borderline of two worlds and two eras, and as a journalist, she perceives it very sensitively. On one side there is the socialist past which has already been thrown to a trash-bin, on the other side there are the industrial landscape and the brave new computer-world, where the relations between people become more and more superficial. The pains and tortures of identity of a person stepping from one world into the other have been depicted with the refinement nearing Emil Tode’s Border State.
Both the author and the main character of Alchemistry are women, and this fact adds to the novel different nuances and new ways of interpretation. The course of time is observed through the ageing body that is fighting the soul, and only love could preserve it and reconcile both halves. This is the very elixir of youth, the philosophers’ stone the alchemists were searching for.