spring

The latest addition to my website is Hans Scherfig‘s Det forsømte forår (Stolen Spring), a book probably written before but published after Den forsvundne fuldmægtig (The Missing Bureaucrat) but which features some of the characters from that book. It is set primarily in a prestigious fee-paying school in Copenhagen, based on the school Scherfig attended as a boy and which he hated. The story starts with the murder of the headmaster, Blomme, one of whose favourite malt drops is poisoned with strychnine. We then learn of a class twenty-fifth year reunion for former pupils of the school. Most of them have gone on to do well (though not all) and we also learn that the murderer is among their number. We then follow this class over a period of years when they were at school, including the actual murder, of which no-one suspects anything, except the perpetrator. In Scherfig’s view, the teachers were almost all borderline psychopaths and frustrated that they have ended up as teachers in a school. They take it out on the boys, with both physical and psychological abuse, though the boys themselves, doubtless following the example of their teachers, pick on the other, weaker boys. In short, Scherfig paints the portrait of a rather unpleasant school, where the only surprise is that only one teacher is murdered and only one of the class ends up in prison. It is not as good as Den forsvundne fuldmægtig (The Missing Bureaucrat), not least because Scherfig’s bitterness predominates.