Pleijel’s novels are constantly moving through the area of tension between antipoles: the lucid and the enigmatic, the empathy of emotional intensity and the intellectual analysis, the fiercely sensual and the slightly dull academia. In Double Portrait she has condensed plot and prose to the maximum: the novel as a haiku. It is wonderful and uplifting reading.
Pleijel creates her own exquisite choreography where dialogue, descriptions and the characters’ reflections are allowed to blend into one. Her prose shifts between distinctly monosyllabic and intractably embellished in its images. All you have to do is to follow. And enjoy.
It is a fascinating fantasy, delightfully incarnated by Agneta Pleijel /… / Parallel to the creation of the coarse 80th birthday portrait, Pleijel, through her novella, successfully produces a double portrait that is more remarkable and appealing, captivatingly nuanced thanks to a precise and sensuous prose.
In fictional works about famous people it is common that the author adds own psychological speculations when the research runs dry. But Pleijel’s invented conversations between the artist and his muse appear so natural and authentic that occasionally I feel like a fly on the wall. The novel is also set in a time when the world was transforming into another, with the protests of 1968 behind and the Americans landing on the moon. Pleijel’s elegant double portrait is from that perspective a mental time capsule about two dramatic shifts in history. But also a cosy, entertaining chamber play about two colourful characters who knew how to find their own way through history.